Gaming With Narcolepsy

The world of gaming is a vibrant, albeit intimidating, space. The intersectional nature of my identity greatly impacts my experience. As a gamer who identifies as female and is a member of the Queer community, I find it difficult to tolerate the misogyny and homophobia that is unfortunately prevalent in the gaming community. There is a level of additional frustration that occurs when my multiple disabilities get in the way of my performance and communication.

How narcolepsy affects my gaming

This is where narcolepsy comes in to play its ever-present role in disrupting my life activities. My type 1 narcolepsy symptoms really get in the way of my gaming performance. When they do so, it is difficult for me to decide whether to disclose my condition or just deal with the friendly (and not-so-friendly) heckling.

There are many ways that my narcolepsy symptoms affect my gaming performance. Type 1 narcolepsy is characterized by symptoms such as cataplexy and perpetual sleepiness that often result in uncontrollable sleep attacks.

Gaming with cataplexy

My cataplexy is currently experienced from strong emotions resulting in partial paralysis of my body. My worst cataplexy triggers include laughter, joy, anger, and intense competition – all prevalent emotions while I am gaming.

When I become paralyzed, my hands are obviously rendered incapable of defending myself with the necessary controller maneuvers. Cataplexy often occurs during the most crucial points of a game, which is why I find it so disabling to my performance.

Sleep attacks come on slowly

On the other hand, sleep attacks come on slowly but surely while I am gaming. I can normally sense a fogginess approaching my vision and watch helplessly as my scores start dropping. The best thing that I can do in this case would be to log off and take a short nap before playing again.

No energy to fight back

When I am playing live games with my community and my performance drops, I am subject to trash talk (as all of our members are). Even though my disability impacts my ability to play, I usually just banter back and forth. When my symptoms get really bad, I don’t always have the energy to fight back.

I hope to learn to listen to myself and speak up about my issues when they are relevant to the issues I am facing. Explanations of my symptoms have been invalidated and overlooked by my family, my doctors, friends, and strangers over and over. It becomes exhausting to not only live with a condition like this but also to have little to no support because of it.

I hope to learn to advocate for myself in such a way that is easily understood by others who may not have been exposed to the concept of narcolepsy.

When to disclose narcolepsy?

I often struggle to know when to disclose my condition to others. This problem is not specific to me or my experience. I’ve heard from many people with narcolepsy that disclosing their disease can make things harder on them when others are not receptive to understanding.

I would imagine that disclosing my condition to a group of supportive people would go down much differently. Regardless of how my proclamation would be received, I plan to listen to my gut and speak up for myself when I feel comfortable.

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