Three people one showing tiredness, disappointment, and pleading

Am I Unreliable Now?

It’s 4 PM, and I am exhausted.

Earlier I’d driven twice in one day, which is more than I can typically handle. My roommate pouts across the room after I’d told her I couldn’t give her a ride to her impromptu tattoo appointment. “You can find a different way there today or ask if they can schedule you another day.”

I could see the disappointment on her face. As an artist, I genuinely enjoy watching tattoos being done. Whether I’m on the table or standing next to it, I find it to be a fun activity to do with friends.

Does narcolepsy make me unreliable?

However, as a person with narcolepsy, I had already spent all of my safe-driving energy for that day. And I was beat. I felt the need to honor my own needs in that moment. Later on, I caught myself spiraling into shame over my limitations and asking myself some intense questions.

Does this make me a bad friend?

Has my narcolepsy made me unreliable, or am I just unreliable?

My personal safety rule about driving

As a general rule, I’ve had to limit myself to driving once a day due to the severity of my narcolepsy symptoms. I’d previously stopped driving for over a year due to the severity of my symptoms. I’m still trying to figure out my limits with the new medication I am on.

I have fallen asleep behind the wheel a number of times, endangering my life and deeply wearing myself out. Driving is an obstacle in my daily life. It is for this reason, and many others, that I find myself saying "no" to people on a regular basis, even people that I care about.

Keeping plans is not easy

Ever since being diagnosed with narcolepsy, my ability to attend events has been reduced. Even keeping my word with other people is more difficult than it used to be. Sometimes my condition gets so bad that I have to cancel plans that I had made previously. I honestly frequently notice myself making plans, only to back out at the last minute due to my symptoms.

Unfortunately, I have quite a few bad narcolepsy symptom days. This is especially the case when my depression flares up above its normal limits. It is especially during these times that I find myself saying “no” to a lot of things.

The stressors of going out

As a single 24-year-old, I often want to go out with friends. However, most times, late-night activities are cut off early or not attended at all. When I do attend these events, the stress of the driving, attending the event, and getting myself home safely when I am in an impaired state from the level of tired that I am, is all too much.

Confronting my people-pleasing tendencies

Over time I am learning that I have to say “no” to others sometimes in order to be able to say “yes” to myself. Leaving behind the shame and fear of not being enough is the hardest part of that for me.

Getting narcolepsy forced me to confront my people-pleasing tendencies. This was especially the case after I started to notice how ragged I was running myself in my attempts to please others.

Do you find yourself saying “no” to friends more because of your narcolepsy symptoms?

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