Living One-Third of My Life with Narcolepsy

by julie on September 19, 2019

Twelve years ago today, I was diagnosed with a classic case of type 1 narcolepsy with cataplexy, just four days after my 24th birthday. So as of today, four days after my 36th birthday, I’ve now spent one-third of my life officially as a “person with narcolepsy” (not counting the years of symptoms before diagnosis).

For fun today, I searched my emails from that fateful day, Sept 18, 2007, and interestingly, I didn’t mention “narcolepsy” once via email that day, but I did send a lot of writing samples and cover letters for law firm job interviews… Interviews for fancy jobs I would never secure, and visions of “success” I would never realize.

“Futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.” ~Veronica Shoffstall, After A While

It took a while for me to realize I wasn’t going to “get better and go back to my life as planned” after starting treatment. The emails to my dad proclaiming: “I HATE narcolepsy” started a few months later. For me, the hell of the next several years was a lifetime low.

“Innovation doesn’t happen because there’s some person who’s in some great circumstance and everything is going well and they get on a roll and they make something for the world. Innovation happens—art happens—because of suffering.” ~Claire Wineland, Klick MUSE New York

So here I stand, just four days away from the inaugural World Narcolepsy Day on Sept. 22, 2019. This week, I’m seeing posts from Japan, Australia, Brazil, Myanmar, Argentina, Spain, Finland, the UK, Ireland, and Israel. It’s totally surreal.

This is one of those moments that have made the past one-third of my life the richest years, with lessons learned about pushing beyond my comfort zone, letting go of other people’s expectations, standing up for what i believe in even when its not popular, and finding the courage to build my dream organization Project Sleep to align with like-minded people who want to disrupt the status quo and innovate for a brighter future.

No matter where you are, I want you to know that it is temporary and will not last forever. It’s a bubble. Things will shift or eventually, you can change bubbles. I never could’ve imagined where i would turn up 12 years after my narcolepsy diagnosis, it’s much bigger and more meaningful than anything i ever dreamed for myself.

I never could’ve reached this reality without your support. Thank you to YOUR kindness, trust and love over so many years.❣️

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