Chrissy was having trouble remembering who she was when she woke up. First she thought it was early-onset dementia, then she thought it was schizophrenia. She had recurring hallucinations about being stalked by a beast that would talk to her while she slept.
A doctor eventually told her she was waking up frequently throughout the night, some 30+ times per hour. It was this inability to maintain a regular sleep cycle that helped her get a diagnosis of narcolepsy, explaining Chrissy’s excessive sleepiness, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and sometimes episodes of cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle control after having a strong emotional response).
Chrissy’s diagnoses frightened her. She tried to pretend it wasn’t true. This attitude drastically changed one day when she woke up in traffic, driving 100kph with her kids in the back seat. She finally accepted her illness, recognized it as a beast, and looked for ways to feed it that wouldn’t affect her children. She says that’s the only way it’s won—if it gets her kids.
This episode was produced by Bec Fary. Bec is a freelance audio producer and creator of the podcast Sleep Talker. Bec’s show is about sleep, dreams, and nightmares, and she’s covered narcolepsy before. That’s how Chrissy got in touch with Bec to share her story. If you have a story you want to share with us, get in touch.
This episode was edited by Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman. Our editor at KCRW is Nick White.
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