I have chronic sleep paralysis.
I have talked about it on here before, but nothing really any detail that I recall, so here it is again.
I take a sleeping pill to help me sleep, sure, but mostly as a way to stop the sleep paralysis. And it works! At my most anxious times (anxiety played a huge role in when I would get this), especially if I was travelling for work, and extra especially if I had to wake up early for a very important meeting, I was likely to be visited by specters and paralyzed with fear no less than five times in a single night.
I say specters, if you don’t know, because it is extremely common to see ghosts or demons or humans just slightly out of your view during sleep paralysis. They tend to be in the doorway or at the foot of your bed. Simultaneously, it feels like something is sitting on your chest and it is so difficult to breathe during it that you will die. I imagine 99.99% of ghost encounters are sleep paralysis.
I have mentioned numerous places before that the tipping point of all of my recent mental health issues was on the first day of registering for our wedding at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I had my first panic attack ever, not knowing what was happening, and I have been working back towards normalcy since.
But in terms of sleep paralysis, this is not the case. It has gone on since early college, it did peak right around the time of my first panic attack, continued to be an issue for years until I got where I am today, medicated and relatively free.
I still get them. Once every couple of months my wife will mention to me in the morning something about sleep paralysis the night before and I am generally devoid of all memory of it. I can deal with it this way. I don’t want to know it exists.
The reason I am writing about this now is because I have been doing a bit of research on narcolepsy. I don’t have narcolepsy. No one has ever suggested that I have narcolepsy. The reason I am reading about it is because of sleep paralysis, which is a common symptom of narcolepsy.
Other common symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, something else I muddle my way through. Although, I want to note that the most common reason for daytime drowsiness is sleep apnea, which I do have.
Oddly enough, people with narcolepsy have disrupted night time sleep, so do I. I wake up three or four times a night, even on sleeping pills. This is the main reason I take an extended release sleep pill instead of just an Ambien alone.
Weight gain. Most narcoleptics are overweight. Again, it is far more likely I look like this based on my shitty diet and lack of exercise but there you have it.
One surprising other symptom is depression and hallucinations. Clearly I suffer from both at times, great deal more the former. And the last time I talked to my shrink about my visions he said specifically they were not psychosis. Maybe they were from Narcolepsy?
But the big thing about being narcoleptic is having Cataplexy, that is the big one, the one that changes lives. I have never experienced that, and I don’t want to.
Narcolepsy usually appears in people between the ages of 10 and 25, similar to most mental illness. It has been found to be a common crossover in bipolars.
Do I think I am narcoleptic? No, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I had some extremely mild form of it, but I clearly do not have a text book form of the disease. The most important question is, do I want to get tested? And that answer is also no.
The reason is the treatment. Even if I was diagnosed (long shot) then they would have few options. SSRI’s are normally used to treat this disease, but bipolars cannot take them. They also use amphetamines to treat daytime sleepiness, no thank you. Sodium Oxybate is used to put you to sleep as well as fight off Cataplexy, but I don’t have cataplexy.
All in all they would probably put me on a sleeping pill and call it a day.