November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving – more than an American tradition

Daily Thoughts  – How i cope with Narcolepsy on the daily

Welcome to my first ‘Daily Thoughts’ blog. I decided to split my blog in two because whilst writing about the past and how I was diagnosed, I realised I have a lot of thoughts in the present that I want to document. To be honest, it’s as much for me as anyone else. I have given myself 30 minutes to write something so here we go..

Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving today and it got me thinking. Firstly, I experienced the tradition first hand during my year away. I spent my time in Nashville with my friends and I absolutely loved it. That morning at like 8am we ran a 5k called the ‘Turkey Trot’, I was so unfit but I loved seeing all the costumes and everyone just generally loving life. We got home and then it was time to travel to her uncle’s house. The dinner was amazing but even this horse couldn’t finish the portions. After dinner, we talked about what we were thankful for and then her Grandpa wanted us to talk about each of our countries and tell them a bit about our traditions. He had looked them up on google and had done some research – it was really lovely! American Football is big on Thanksgiving too kinda like Boxing Day football here so that was on the tv in the background. We had an amazing time and it was class to be exposed to a different culture and their traditions first hand.

Making time to think about what we should be thankful for should be something we think about everyday. Yes, I can hear people saying but I’m struggling with this and I’m not happy with that. Believe me, I used to hate it when I was having a bad time and my ma would be like ‘awk but sure it could be worse, John down the road there has two broken legs’. It used to drive me mad. I suppose what I am saying is that thinking about your life and what you are grateful for on the daily really does make you have a more positive outlook in life. I am not saying though that this works for everyone, I’m just talking about my experience in the event someone else feels the same.

When I was undiagnosed and in the early days of being diagnosed with Narcolepsy I was so angry. I compared my life to everyone else and just felt that I had been dealt an unfair hand in life. I thought my life was so much worse that everyone else’s because I had this condition to deal with and they didn’t. As dramatic as it sounds, I really felt sorry for myself. I was in victim mode all the time and everything became about being tired and being less than as a result. I spent some time in hospital nearly two years ago now and that really put everything in perspective, as my Ma had said it really could be worse. When I returned to work, I wasn’t the same person. I no longer wanted to focus on the negative and I realised that I also no longer wanted to be in the corporate world. I left and honestly I felt like a cloud was lifted. I had finally done something that was only for myself. Whilst people were understanding, I think behind closed doors they thought I was mad to walk away from my career.

Why did I make the change? …I had gained perspective on what was most important in life. I knew that I wasn’t happy and that I needed to make a change. Change is hard, no one likes change but honestly making a decision that you know is the best thing for yourself is the most valuable thing you can do. When I started my new job and again in the new year, I made a resolution to myself that I wouldn’t let this condition define me anymore. I was gonna be happy – bring it Narcolepsy. The first thing I did was Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Caroline McMenamin of Replenish. If anyone reading this is struggling and wondering if they should talk to someone, please do. I had been dealing with a lot on my own and it really transformed and enhanced my perspective. It transformed my life from surviving and just getting through the day to actually living. I cannot recommend it enough.

One of the things I do every night is write down what I’m grateful for and a to do list for the next day. This has really helped me clear my mind for the night as I always think about what I have to do the next day as soon as my head hits the pillow! Writing down what I am grateful for grounds me and even if my day was shit it reminds me that it was just that,a shitty day, I don’t have a shitty life!

Oops it’s been 35mins now and honestly I’m not sure if the above is even making sense. I just feel strongly that even if you are struggling or having a bad time with illness or whatever it is, trying to find a bit of happiness in every day or thinking of what you are grateful for can really transform your mood. If you’re reading this and thinking, ah but sure that’s ok for her she’s not doing as bad as me…believe it or not I have had a really bad couple of days. Even with naps, I have had a lot of involuntary sleep attacks and the nightmares have been on a different level of frightening. I’m just trying to say that when you feel awful, please check in with yourself to remind yourself that there are things in your life that bring you happiness. If there isn’t, are there things that you could make some time for? I hate to say self-care as it’s overused but making that time for yourself is so key. My mammy used to say I was the worst at looking after myself, and it was true. Yes, it was and is so tough living with a sleep condition but I noticed that I just felt worse when I got into a negative spin and hated life. I don’t have it all figured out, I have to actively check in with myself. It’s work, there is no quick fix but I just was sick of feeling sick and then my mind having a go at me too. There’s no point thinking negatively when you already feel like crap. What good has thinking negatively ever done? So why not give daily gratitude a go? Write down your to-do list for the next day and then something you are grateful for or maybe something good that happened that day. Life is too short not to find some happiness in every day.

Ok I really need to finish up I’m way over time haha. Basically, happiness cannot be found in the external, it has to be you that makes yourself happy and gratitude is a great way to start that process. My inbox is flooded with Black Friday discount and I noticed recently that my mood was being affected by being on Social Media too much. Even though I know they are the highlight reel of people’s lives, you can’t help but compare. Someone you went to school with has bought their first house or getting married or getting a promotion….it makes you feel like you’re behind. Then, there’s all the ads that are constantly making you feel like you need to buy new makeup, dress a certain way, cosmetic surgery etc. Everything makes you feel less than and that is so messed up when you think about it. They say that if everyone was happy with themselves the beauty industry would go out of business and it’s so true. I really recommend stepping away from social media and the comparing and just thinking about your own life. Are you happy with it? If you are then frig all that crap that’s constantly in your face via Social media. If you aren’t then why not? Is there something you want to change or is this constant comparing making you want things you don’t actually want? So what if you haven’t bought your first house yet, you’ll get there! Maybe you aren’t at a place in your career that you want to be, frig that too…for all you know the person that got promoted hates their life on the daily. Please don’t seek validation in the material things, it will never make you happy in the long run! The below meme is basically my life haha

Here are some things that I am thankful for:

  1. First up is my job, without being offered this job I would never be in the place I am now – learning to manage my Narcolepsy via CBT, nutrition and naps was like a weight off my shoulders.
  2. Family and friends – this is always on my list
  3. My health – you might be like ehhh girl you have an incurable sleep disorder. Yeah…I know but I’m still alive haha.

Ok so that was nearly an hour….that was deep…all from getting too many Black Friday discount emails haha. Some good dealz don’t get me wrong but just don’t be putting your happiness on a lot of material stuff okay? I dunno if I got the message across so here’s a helpful video if you think I’m talking shit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9dZQelULDk

P.s. This is just my experience, I am not a life coach hahah just ranting. If you disagree with what I say that’s fine you do you boo. Everyone is different.

P.P.S Jade Bradley at Restore Nutrition is the best!! Please contact her if you want to see how it can help with a chronic condition or just in general…this reminds me that I needed to write a testimonial for her…god damn short term memory!!

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