When i was born, my mum noticed i was unusually sleepy. When she mentioned this to the doctors, they simply told her i was a sleepy baby, and that i would grow out of it. Except i didn’t. I had to be woken, to be fed – which normally, should’ve been the opposite!
My mum just thought she was fortunate though, that she had such a quiet baby.
School was very difficult – not just for the bullying, for being different. But also it was difficult to form and keep friendships, because i wasn’t there for half of the time. Me and my parents got in a lot of trouble for my absence. Which of course just made things worse, and it created a lot of trouble at home, in the form of physical abuse from my mum. She vented all her fear, frustration and stress out on me, which has created a long term emotional effect on me, sadly.
I did manage to pass all my GCSE’s, by revising like mad! But unfortunately i wasn’t able to complete college, till i was much later.
I was officially diagnosed with Non-24 Circadian Rhythm Sleep disorder when i was 19. It was first picked up when i was sent for a psychiatric assessment for severe depression. The nurse felt my problems with depression were caused by my poor sleep pattern, than vice versa. I had to go to a special clinic in London where i had an overnight observation – and i didn’t sleep very well at all!
I was very isolated in my late teens and early 20s, till my sleep pattern stabilised in a better way. During this time, i got engaged to my first love – but it fell through partly due to our age, it being a long distance relationship, but mostly to do with the strain N24 put on our relationship. I was very depressed, and regretfully took it out on him without being aware of it. I felt completely emotionally removed from him, but i knew deep down that i still very much loved him.
I had a hard time forgiving myself for the things that i had done, and the way i had treated him. After the relationship ended, it had a negative effect on him and how he treated women and gay people afterwards.
I got a new and more local set of friends, and got involved with a youth group – which did the world of good for me. I had a string of relationships afterwards, that never amounted to anything, until 2010.
Where i met a guy who would turn into being my fiancee one day. With him i had my longest relationship too, and the first time living with someone.
I had been on long term welfare benefits, and with the change in the benefit reform i was passed over to be assessed for employment and support allowance (ESA), which i failed. I failed because the assessment criteria doesn’t cover complex neurological conditions, such as N24, so couldn’t be properly scored. It’s actually more ridiculous than it sounds.
I was stripped of all my benefits, and was facing losing my home. I had no where to go, and no money to fall back on. Fortunately my boyfriend had a good job, and saw the situation i was in, and stepped in. He took on my flat and all the bills, and i attempted to get back into work.
The jobs i found were horrid, and i experienced assault and discrimination. By the time 2013 came round, we were in considerable amount of debt and were looking at moving. Fortunately, a new position came up in a branch of the company he worked with, in Cornwall – where he had always been wanting to move back to ( he originally came from Cornwall). He was successful in getting the job and we started looking for places. I stayed in our flat, while he moved back to his parents – this was a temporary measure. In the time being, i started my claim for JSA. Our relationship fell apart, and i stayed where i was.
I continued on JSA, and in 2014 started back at college, in a part time basis. I did advanced IT and book-keeping. I very much enjoyed it there, and eventually found a job as a classroom assistant. I enjoyed that job immensely and have been there for nearly a year. With it, i have found a very good employer. And during the time i volunteered with a local disability advice service.
My sleep pattern has gotten better and better over the year and i’m just starting to be able to get up before noon every day.
Recently I’ve accepted a job offer to be an after-school play worker with a local school. The hours are perfect for what i’m looking for. I’ve also got a driving test coming up too, the ability to be able to drive has always been a long time dream and goal of mine, which i seem be fulfilling.
All those years ago, when i first got my diagnosis. I thought and felt like my life had ended. All i could see in my future was an black, never-ending abyss of nothingness.
Well, i guess it goes to show – life is full of surprises.