Grooming With Narcolepsy

Grooming with narcolepsy isn’t for the faint of heart. As a person with narcolepsy, every little bit of effort that I dedicate to one part of my life is unable to be used for other parts of my life. Thus, the daily investment that is required to keep up certain grooming practices is often too expensive for me to afford.

Here are some things I’ve noticed about grooming practices when living with narcolepsy.

I'm treated differently when I don't groom 'properly'

When I am preparing to leave the house, grooming is necessary beforehand to make myself appear more appealing towards the outside world. This is especially important for those of us that fall asleep suddenly in public — people react differently to "messy" versus "neat-looking" people, and it may be difficult to get my needs met when I am not looking my best.

For example, if I were to have a sleep attack in messy street-clothes with greasy hair and no makeup, people passing by might assume that I am suffering from something like a drug addiction instead of a medical condition. Making sure I am well-groomed before venturing out in public feels like a safety protocol of sorts.

Makeup is a societal expectation

As a person in a femme-appearing body, there is an automatic expectation for me to wear makeup. Even in academic settings, I've noticed that women who do not wear makeup are usually less respected by both genders.

Don’t get me wrong, I love putting on makeup! I feel more confident, my outfits feel more stylish with the addition of makeup, and I love admiring my reflection with makeup art on my face. Makeup can be so creative and fun! It adds a little spice to life.

However, when done as a daily routine, putting on makeup every day just isn’t possible for me. Not when I am struggling with my narcolepsy symptoms to the point where it is difficult for me to get basic needs met, like preparing myself healthy foods or taking care of my service dog.

Even though grooming feels like a necessity, when it comes to other necessities in my life, it is lower on the priorities list. For example, when getting ready to run an errand, it is more important to me to remember to bring everything I need (including caffeinated beverages), to get dressed in day-clothes, and to get all these things done and still be alert enough to drive. Often this means skipping makeup.

Shaving habits and body hair

I haven’t shaved my body hair in years.

Personal grooming choices are just that — choices. But what if I choose against shaving just because I don’t have the energy for it?

I stopped shaving my body hair when my narcolepsy symptoms were so severe that I couldn’t even leave the house for months. As my body hair grew back in full force, I came to get used to it. I even prefer having leg hair now because it helps me feel nature’s breezes and feel more connected to my body. Aesthetically, though, I sometimes miss the feeling of silky, satiny, freshly-shaved legs. However, I just don’t have the energy for maintaining this ideal.

Thriving in our grooming choices

People can be judgmental when it comes to grooming choices that I make for my own body. Little do they know these choices are often due to trying to survive and thrive with a chronic illness like narcolepsy!

Have you noticed that narcolepsy impacts your grooming choices? Tell us your stories!

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