New to this Forum - Medical Student with Type 2 Narcolepsy

Sharing my story!

During my undergrad years, I always knew caffeine didn’t work on me. So I kept myself busy: volunteering, customer service work, research, etc. Many active activites.

During my gap year, I realized coffee didn’t work at all. In fact, it made me more sleepy.

I started medical school in the US and this is when I recognized this as a big issue. I slept 10 hours a night and still took naps b/c most my activites are passive (studying at home). I felt discouraged and disappointed in myself. I was passing classes but was losing motivation. Everyone was always studying and I wasn’t. I was depressed. I started seeing a therapist and psychiatrist. My Lexapro did help but I couldn’t help my sleepiness. Tbh, I felt kind of gaslit into thinking my sleepiness was a manifestation of my depression, even though I knew it wasn’t it. I went down a rabbit hole of resorting to illegal stimulants to keep myself up at night to study. After a few months, I finally saw a sleep doc. Even here, I felt like she was against diagnosing me with Narcolepsy. She said it isn’t common for Narcoleptic patients to not feel energized after a nap (for me, I take 2 hour naps and still feel exhausted).

After my sleep study and clear diagnosis of Narcolepsy, I was relieved. However, my sleep doc is very unresponsive so it has taken weeks-months to finally figure out medications that kind of work for me (tried modafinil and now on adderall).

I am more awake now, which is great since I’m headed into clinical rotations. But I am still depressed and lack motivation. I drink almost every night as an escape (though I can stop when I need to and know I will have to when I start rotations). My friends know about my narcolespy (not of depression and drinking) but they just don’t understand. I feel disappointed in myself. I don’t do as much as others because of my lack of motivation and I’m still sleepy in the early evening (yes before I drink; still working on med management).

I am happy to have found this forum since it’s private to those with Narcolepsy (unlike reddit). I just feel so defeated. I’m going into clinicals soon and am scared to turn back into a robot where I just live life everyday unhappily.

Any guidance or experiences or words of encouragement to those who may have had similar experiences in life?

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Unbelievable! – To be told “it isn’t common for Narcoleptic to not feel energized after a nap” … Some days are worse than others. Some days (like yesterday) I had to take three naps for more than 45 minutes each. Did I feel energized after each nap? Nope! I felt groggy and sleepy. It was also raining and gloomy outside.

Today, It’s still raining and gloomy outside, but after my morning nap of about 40 minutes … today, I feel energized, but it’s not the norm.

I’ll post more when I have time (or when I have time AND wakiness). But the best way around the narcolepsy gremlins is to keep them guessing what you’re going to do next. I like to move from one thing to the next otherwise I’ll spend all day doing absolutely nothing when I try to accomplish just one task. I have so many projects and things I’m working on that sometimes I feel overwhelmed with their number.

But keeping many tasks at hand and switching right away to another, when I start to get sleepy, and doing only a little bit for each task (just to keep it going) makes me more productive all day. Just one 5 minute lesson on Duo Lingo, just one or two pages of my favorite book, checking the mail while standing, exercising for 1/2 hour at minimum three times a week… Bye for now. Stay strong and be proud of yourself. It’s not easy but being strong is the key and knowing that you’re not alone.