Narcolepsy Friends Are Better

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting one of my friends who has narcolepsy in person for the first time. This friend visited me in my new city, and we had so much fun exploring it together. My narcolepsy did get in the way here and there, but we worked around it together and made the most of it.

Meeting others with narcolepsy is rare

Before last week I had only met one other person with narcolepsy in my lifetime – a stranger standing in the waiting room at a mechanic’s shop who overheard me speaking about my narcolepsy and chimed in that they suffered from the same disease.

I’d been so excited to meet someone else with narcolepsy at that time. However, I wasn’t able to ask them all the questions I had for them since we were just strangers in passing.

Friends who also have narcolepsy are special

Last week when my friend visited, I felt like she was the first other person with narcolepsy that I’ve really been able to get to know in person. This was a special experience for me, and I felt so validated in our discussions about narcolepsy. Usually when one of us got tired, the other one was still okay and could take control of the situation in public until recovery.

There are a few reasons that make friends with narcolepsy even better than regular friends, for me.

1. They respect your limitations

I find driving to be difficult at night. My friend’s plane was delayed, potentially forcing me to have to drive at night to pick them up. When I told them that I could call them a Lyft instead of picking them up – my treat, since I had made the commitment to drive them — my friend insisted that they could call their own ride. After all, it wasn’t my fault that their flight was delayed and it wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t drive at night. I was impressed with how gracious and understanding they were. This is just one example of many.

2. Neither of you are going to say no to a nap

After hiking, I need to nap. It’s just what happens to my brain after physical, mental, or emotional exertion. When I brought this up to my friend, instead of being potentially annoyed that we had to take a break from activities, she sighed in relief – she needed a nap too!

3. Sleep attacks and cataplexy don’t feel shameful around them.

My cataplexy can be triggered by laughter. When my cataplexy kicked in, I didn’t feel the need to mask it as much as I would have around someone who didn’t have narcolepsy. I still try to avoid cataplexy attacks for safety reasons, which is why I try to make myself stop laughing if I feel the paralysis creeping in.

I also felt more comfortable having sleep attacks around this friend, because I knew they would understand – and they did. Being able to share my struggles with someone who has experienced them firsthand has been healing in many ways. I am so grateful for my friends with narcolepsy.

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