>One year ago, I found myself struggling and lost in my handling of my narcolepsy. While I had clearly identified that I needed to make some changes at my job, I had yet to connect in a meaningful way with any other people with narcolepsy. I knew that living with this condition was difficult, but had no context for my situation. Was it normal to still feel this run down? How much did my doctor honestly know? Where any of my other “health problems” connected to my narcolepsy? The list of these questions was endless, but where could I even start to get answers. Worst of all, I knew I needed to process my own feelings and frustrations, but I felt like burdening my wife would be wholly unfair. She is my partner, lover, and best friend, but she could not be the sole repository of my stress and anxiety. I also had my Men’s Group, but was finding it harder and harder to discuss my struggles, because narcolepsy sounds ridiculous when you explain it – I am tired during the day, and I don’t sleep well at night. It invites the suggestions of getting more sleep, and the sympathetic replies of “I am tired too.” Then, in a whirlwind week, everything changed.
First and foremost, I “discovered” Facebook and MySpace. It may sound insane for a forty-year-old to claim that social networking saved his life, but I am living proof. Since my daughter’s school was moving to one-to-one computing in the middle school (each student has her or his own computer) and because of my own interest in using technology in the classroom, I thought I should start understanding what social networks truly were. I played with my profiles for a few days, but then I wondered if other PWNs could be found in either one. Turns out, I found support groups in both locations. The Facebook group Narcolepsy Support Group became my home away from home. I think there were around 400 members when I joined. As of today, the group is a single person away from 1000 members. Touching base with other PWNs had a huge impact.
In fact, the great irony is that the member who literally joined next on Facebook was a former student at my school. I could not believe it. I sent her a message on Facebook, feeling horribly awkward. But, within hours, we were trading emails since she too had narcolepsy, as did other family members. She has subsequently become a major factor in helping to lead the local MOONS-MN support group. So, Facebook not only put me in contact with other PWNs, but also provided me with my first face-to-face interaction with other PWNs.
The best was yet to come, though. The same motives that drew me to Facebook also had me curious about blogging. Since I was planning to use it in my classroom, I thought I might start a blog. After looking for other blogs about narcolepsy, I realized that only a handful of PWNs were sharing their stories. But, it was also clear that writing about it was helping the PWN authors and their readers. Thus, Narcoleptic Knights was born – one year ago today. I love that this one year anniversary has fallen during my break week at school. I have been privileged to blog every day over this hiatus. It has reminded me how important it is for me to write about my condition. Whether I am up or down, I need this release.
I know that some of my depression and stress over the last few months has been the limited blogging that I have done. Seeing that string of months with only two or three posts per months saddens me. I know that I was doing other things that needed to be done, but it reminds me of how far I must go to find more equilibrium in my life. It also blows my mind that I could go 3-4 months writing only a handful of posts and still average a post every three days for the year. I do remind my students regularly that I am overly verbose.
The final piece that makes this blog so important to me is that so many people have come here to read it. In one year, Narcoleptic Knights has had 891 unique visitors from 33 different countries and at least 47 regions/states within the U.S. There have been over 3300 total visits and still about a quarter of the visits come from new visitors. I am awed and honored that people from around the globe would spend even a few seconds looking at what I have said here. I do hope that I have helped some of them. At the same time, I want you all to know that you have helped me (and continue to help me). By visiting this site, you motivate me to continue writing. I have mentioned it here before, but I have never been good at keeping a journal. I always start strong, but rarely do I even make it a month when I try to regularly record my thoughts. But, because of the visitors to this blog, I have not only reached the one year mark, but also I am heading into the second year of Narcoleptic Knights with more fervor than ever. Whether you have left many comments, one comment, or simply read a portion of a post, please know that I am eternally grateful. I often avoid injecting my religious faith into this space, but it is not lost on me that today is Easter (at least it is for Roman Catholics and Protestants). The fact that we are honoring Christ re-born on the day that my blog reaches it one year mark (and it is a huge piece of my re-birth) is a gloriously wonderful thing. Thank you all for being a part of my life.