True Life: I Have Narcolepsy

This episode of True Life is about two women ( young women ) that have been diagnosed with Narcolepsy. People that have this condition are overcome with the urge to sleep at the wrong times. The girls, Julie and Katy, also have an accompanying disorder, Cataplexy which consists of muscle failure, much like a temporary paralysis.

The type of narrative for this type of disease is the Chaos Narrative because it is a chronic, degenerative type of condition.  It does include social suffering. There is a social stigma for someone suffering with this condition.  It is difficult for them to explain this to others and for others to understand and empathize.

The persons that are sick need to acknowledge that they have a problem.  They need to seek the care of a professional and be excused from regular responsibilties.

Illness narratives are very useful, people’s illnesses do not occur in a vaccum (from the lecture).  The narrative helps the person telling it (the person who is sick) make some sense of his suffering and feel empowered.  The illness has not taken them over–they have some sense of control over their pain.  People talk about their illness and how they feel and perceive the problem to be, from their perspective. The Restitution Narrative works with a patient with a temporary illness that will have a cure at some point. The Chaos Narrative works with a chronic, degenerative condition and does include social suffering.  It helps the sufferer to talk about this and feel like they are not alone. The Quest Narrative is a journey.  The emphasis is on emotional and spiritual healing over physical restoration.  One example mentioned in the lecture was breast cancer survivors, and another that was mentioned was Alcoholics Anonymous groups.  Any social support group such as a substance abuse group or other group would serve the same function.


1 thought on “True Life: I Have Narcolepsy

  1. The individual in the video titled, “My Day Out With Narcolepsy Part 1,” explains his life with the illness. His life is extremely similar to the two young women discussed in this post, through he does not depict his situation as chaotic as the two women. He has learned to cope with the illness, recognize its onset, and evolved to adapt to life with narcolepsy. He also does not have the secondary affliction cataplexy, as one of the young girls do. I am not sure to what extent the girls have narcolepsy, but this individual has a severe case. When he falls asleep, he cannot be woken up until his body is prepared to. He has tried keeping an alarm on him for when he falls asleep, but it does not work. Even other people have tried to shake him awake when he passes out, but to no avail. He has had to learn to quickly recognize the symptoms of each episode’s onset so that he can find somewhere he can “rest” that is safe and won’t be harmful to him. such as a bench, chair, or soft ground. He knows that he will not be cured from the disease, especially with the fact that very few medications actually work. He was mostly influenced by the biomedical standpoint of the disease. Other influences were not explicit in the video, but I am sure his kept appearance has prevented someone from assuming him to be a vagabond, while he sleeps in random places. I am sure he would have a harder life with the disease if he had been of a lower socioeconomic status. Overall he accepts his illness, and has adapted to its demands.

    My Day Out With Narcolepsy Part 1 [Video]. Retrieved July 28, 2012, from

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