How My Narcolepsy Diagnosis Changed My Mindset on Happiness and Self-worth
As far back as I can recall, my happiness and self-worth were solely based on achieving goals and success. In college, I had to get all A's. At work, I strived for perfection. And as a wife and mother, I gave my all to make sure my family was happy.
Pushing myself to perfection
In college, if I had all A's and one B in a class, I was disappointed in myself. Although a sea of A's surrounded the B, I felt like I failed myself.
At work, I cared for my patients like they were my grandmother, mother, sister, or friend. I was determined never to miss a finding or have a radiologist scan behind me and find something I overlooked. I pushed myself to be present every day, no matter how I felt physically.
Self-medicating with caffeine and headache medicine
Headaches and body aches plagued me constantly. I self-medicated with 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day. I would make it strong and say I needed it to put hair on my chest. Excedrin with Motrin became my go-to headache cocktail. I gave my all, and I still felt I was not good enough.
Going through a divorce
Divorce was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I did everything I could to make my husband and children happy. I felt like a failure, and I blamed myself for not being able to keep my family together. I started therapy and over and over, I was told I could not make anyone happy but myself.
My narcolepsy diagnosis opened my ears and heart
When I was diagnosed, I thought so many others around me must have narcolepsy too. My diagnosis helped open my ears and heart to what so many therapists told me in the past.
Once a therapist explained that reliving the past causes depression and worrying about the future causes anxiety and panic. I not only had narcolepsy with cataplexy – I also suffered from depression and anxiety.
Setting healthy boundaries
With the help of talk therapy, I began setting healthy boundaries for myself. I let go of my tendency to rely on people, money, or things for my happiness. What do these 3 things have in common? They come and go and I needed more and more to keep the happy feeling.
Depending on people for happiness made me lonely and bored when no one was around. Money, there is just never enough. The same is true for things; they break or become outdated. Then I felt compelled to purchase the latest and greatest, which cost more money. Do you see the vicious cycle?
True happiness comes from within
This cycle was broken when I wholeheartedly believed true happiness comes from within. All I needed to do was love myself first, and everything else fell into place. I attracted like-minded people and began getting invited to do fun things. If I felt up to it, I said yes. If I did not, I declined without guilt. Money became less important, and things were no longer a priority.
Today, 14 months after diagnosis, I can genuinely say I am happy and feel worthy. Why? I work daily to preserve my self-love, joy, and peace. It is not easy, but practice makes perfect!
What is the hardest part of coping with narcolepsy?