Narcolepsy Makes Housework Hard
Last updated: May 2023
I’ve always been the kind of person that kept their personal space clean. Even as a kid, it was a ritual for me to make my bed every morning. To this day, every time I make my bed I feel a tiny burst of personal accomplishment fluttering around in my stomach. It puts a little pep in my step.
Cleaning up other people's messes was normal
When it became time to go off to college, I was THAT girl – the one with an immaculate room with everything in its place. I was raised by a mother with her own chronic illnesses, and I took on a great deal of household responsibilities at a young age.
When it became time for me to get roommates, this pattern continued. I even won an award in college for “best roommate.” It was pretty normal to see me cleaning not only my own messes, but other people's too.
My new limitations are not personality defects
However, after my narcolepsy onset in my college years, I suddenly found myself unable to muster the energy to keep up on other people's chores. My symptoms were so bad that I started to struggle with my own chores, too.
This caused some tension in my living situations, because people were used to me overextending myself on their behalf. Suddenly, I was unable to lift my own weight fully in the household!
It was a big change for all of us, and I felt a lot of shame around it at first. I’ve since learned to accept my limitations as burdens for me to bear as opposed to being personality defects, like many people around me assume.
Overworking myself worsens my narcolepsy symptoms
Some of the symptoms that interfere with housework for me are my excessive daytime sleepiness, general fatigue, and my sleep attacks. Each household chore that I invest my energy into takes a toll on me. This means that I have an extreme limit on what I can achieve in a day. Overworking myself leads to worsened narcolepsy symptoms in the long run.
Once I realized that overworking myself despite my narcolepsy was a sacrifice of my own health, I decided that I’d rather care for my own well-being than accommodate other people's expectations of me. In the end, people are going to believe what they believe about my character. It is my responsibility to be attentive to my own needs, and no one else’s.
I am worth more than what I can give others
I still struggle with household chores to this day. Despite my many narcolepsy medication treatments, and landing on the “best” one for me, my kitchen sink gets filled with dishes faster than I can empty it on most days. It can sometimes feel like I am always playing a game of catch-up – and losing, badly.
I’ve learned to be more gentle with myself and not berate myself internally for my physical limitations as a person with narcolepsy. I remind myself often that I am worth more than what I can give others or achieve. I am worth being cared for, properly.
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