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Living with narcolepsy: I have to take four naps a day

Cristín McNeill has type 1 narcolepsy, a neurological disorder that causes excessive sleepiness, sleep paralysis and hallucinations, and sudden loss of muscle tone. She lives in Maynooth, Co Kildare with her husband and five-year-old son, and is the owner of Willow Bridal Studio

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Cristín McNeill. Photo: Tony Gavin

Cristín McNeill. Photo: Tony Gavin

Cristín McNeill. Photo: Tony Gavin

‘I started showing symptoms of narcolepsy in late March 2012, after my mother passed away very suddenly. She was 47 and she passed away in her sleep.

I was 23 at the time and her death was such a shock to my system that my body nearly went into shutdown mode. I had a bit of a cough already and I ended up with pneumonia. It eventually cleared but I was still experiencing fatigue and suffering from terrible insomnia, and I was nodding off without much prior warning.

I went to the GP and it was obviously chalked up to grief and depression, which I fully accepted. But then, three months later, I started to notice there was stuff happening to me that couldn’t be explained by grief, and I started experiencing symptoms of cataplexy, which is sudden loss of muscle tone in response to strong emotion.


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