Adult man pats himself on the back

I'm Proud of You

“I’m proud of you,” my friend said, smiling. And my stomach dropped.

I’d taken extra stimulants, four caffeine pills, and two cups of coffee to get through this day of back-to-back events with them. I was exhausted. My service dog was exhausted, too. On this day, my service dog had been working from sun-up to past sundown.

I didn't feel proud in that moment

“I’m proud of you.” The words rang, sour to my ears. They were proud of me, for what? Overextending myself so much today that my symptoms will likely flare and be even worse for the next following weeks? Proud of me for missing my scheduled nap, and therefore having a sleep attack in public? Proud of me for going along with what everyone else wanted to do, instead of setting limits by simply saying, “I’m gonna sit this one out?”

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In this moment, I wasn’t proud of myself. In fact, I was disappointed. Disappointed that I let myself get carried away by other people's expectations. Disappointed for taking so many stimulants that made my heart race and my anxiety spike through the roof.

What I realized in this moment is that I don’t have to do what others perceive as “successful” in order to be proud of myself.

How I can be proud of myself

I can be proud of myself for simple things like:

Advocating for myself

Advocating for myself takes a lot of energy. I already WANT to be able to do the things that people pressure me to do. So when people ask me to do things that are well out of my ability as a person with narcolepsy, such as hours of back-to-back events, even though it is within my best interest to set limits and advocate for my needs, it can be difficult to do so. Because I miss being able to do things like that. And I don’t want to inconvenience anyone. However, making my body and mind suffer isn’t fair either.

Self-advocacy is a learned skill. And I am getting better at it. I can be proud of myself for setting limits.

Taking that nap

Being proud of myself for taking a nap?

Sounds contradicting in this day and age. But really, I think dedicating time to rest as a person with narcolepsy is a productive use of time. Perhaps the most productive use of time is resting, for us, because our bodies are constantly in sleep debt.

I can be proud of myself for sticking to my prescribed nap schedule. Doing so ensures that my body will be stronger for today, and the next day.

Being kind to my body

I can be proud of being kind to my body. Not forcing it to fit society’s expectations of what I “should” be able to do.

When I am kind to my body, it is kind to me. And remember, my body is doing the best that it can, just like I am.

For simply being

Even if I am simply being sleepy. I can be proud of myself for existing. Existing as a person with narcolepsy is not easy. Most able-bodied people couldn’t imagine living with the levels of fatigue that we live with everyday.

Just the fact that I am still here, and trying, is a win in my book.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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