A woman crouched down looking at a butterfly that is perched on her spilled ice cream

Narcolepsy Imagined as a Trickster God

It’s early Monday morning and you’re late to work. You’re sitting in the front seat of your car and the engine sputters to life. Suddenly, you feel a sudden sleep attack beginning to onset.

Of course, this had to happen right now, this morning of all mornings!

You mutter angrily to yourself.

If you suffer from narcolepsy, this scene may be all too familiar to you. Like Murphy’s Law, living with an incurable illness is almost a guarantee that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

Narcolepsy symptoms messing with my life

Most days, my narcolepsy symptoms feel like a trickster god trying to mess with my life in any way it can.

Did I get overexcited over the prospect of buying an ice cream cone? Yes, and my trickster god made sure that my cataplexy kicked in and forced me to drop my treat on the ground. (It’s a true story, although I added the trickster god part in post-production).

Did I take a nap before an important appointment to ensure that I would be more awake for the meeting? Yes, I did, but my trickster god made sure to turn off the alarm on my phone, so I slept through the first half of said important meeting.

My trickster god cackles with pleasure when it is using my illness against me, which is most days.

Sending nightmares and cataplexy my way

I imagine that the narcolepsy trickster god sleeps soundlessly on a warm, soft bed. Its dreams are filled with colorful fantasies of narcolepsy impeding me.

For every pleasant dream it has, it sends a gruesome nightmare my way. For every fantastic emotion it feels, it causes my cataplexy to flare up at the most inopportune times.

My trickster god uses these events to convince me that narcolepsy has sucked away my spirit like marrow from a bone.

Life is still worth living

Every wild sunset I see, every full moon that beams down on me, reminds me that life is still worth living. Even if my trickster god is hell-bent on using my narcolepsy to ruin my life, I refuse to let it keep me from seeing beautiful moments happening right in front of me.

I realize now how privileged I am to be experiencing consciousness in any form, even if I have to fight against my own body to appreciate it sometimes.

Finding a greater purpose

They say that the monarch butterfly only achieves transnational flights every couple of generations. That means that only a fraction of monarch butterflies ever get the opportunity to fly to their breeding grounds hundreds of miles away. These monarch butterflies are the strongest, fastest, and have the best senses. They are born that way, their genes determining their fate as the “better butterfly.”

They are born with an instinct that tells them that there is something more for them out there. Their lives are filled with tragedies and great escapes, times of fat and times of lean. Some might say that their lives are defined by struggle.

However, they might experience a far more fulfilling life as they travel to their bigger purpose. In fact, they were born exactly for that. I hope that one day instead of impeding me endlessly, my narcolepsy will allow me to see colors brighter and horizons closer than they are.

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