The Student Who Overslept (Aimee)

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Hi there, dear readers!

It’s funny how the most important life-events pass quietly – unnoticed.

One of these, for me, happened seven years ago.

Rewind to 2010… *cue flashback music* Little me (isn’t she sweet!?) is on holiday in Lorne and her (my?) mum is putting on a DVD. As the opening credits roll, little Aimee, with the awful fringe (code-red mullet!) falls asleep; only to wake up long after the movie has finished. Mum is a bit miffed that I (she…? Never speak about yourself in the third-person!) have missed the movie, but nothing much is said and we move on. Little do we know that it’s the first in a long series of unscheduled naps and unexplained tiredness. These will be passed off with that delectable little word: hormones.

Fast-forward to 2017 and grown-up Aimee (still with a funny haircut and equally awful fashion sense!) is more than a bit sleepy. Things have started to happen which I can’t explain. I keep zoning out in lectures and regaining concentration five minutes later. Finding the right words in a conversation is like retrieving a bobby-pin from a sea of treacle. Recently, I even forgot the name of a friend who I’ve known for a year. (Very embarrassing given that my housemates and I used to have dinner with her every week! What’s-your-name – I’m unimaginably sorry!!) The doctors are befuddled and prescribe iron tablets, calcium tablets, bed-rest, exercise and… well, just about every cure you can think of… except perhaps the best cure-all there is: chocolate. (Ahem!) Then, something happens which – if you’ll forgive the pun – wakes everyone up. I fall asleep in a university bathroom.

Believe me: there is no bigger wake-up call than waking up on the toilet! Frankly … pun-incoming … it stinks!

Though it wasn’t big on dignity, this little stunt did change things for the better. My doctor rushed me off to a specialist and on Monday, I finally got an answer…

I have Idiopathic Hypersomnia.

Honestly, what a daft name! Idiopathic Hypersomnia is doctor-speak for: ‘sleeps a lot, but we don’t know why.’ It’s a bit like people in Harry Potter saying ‘he-who-must-not-be-named’. So far, saying my condition out loud has not resulted in a Death Eater attack… but I will keep you posted!

Anyway, to cut a long and boring definition short… Idiopathic Hypersomnia is a neurological disorder which usually starts in adolescence. Basically, the brain goes on strike and stops regulating alertness. Instead my brain functions like yours would if you’d just taken a very big sleeping pill. It means that I can’t drive without medication and drinking could leave me unconscious. (So, you can just imagine what happens if I drink AND drive!) It also means, unfortunately, that I am constantly tired. Not just tired as in “sleepy”. I mean tired as in the feeling your I-Phone has when its charger is broken and it’s running on 2% battery. If you want to know more, I’d recommend this fantastic Wikipedia page: (At the moment, beautifully-written definitions are not my strong-point!)They’re in the process of prescribing me some very exciting drugs (partyyy!) and needless to say, my journey is just beginning.

Reader buddies, I’m not putting this in a blog-post just to have a whinge. (Honest!) Although, if anyone’s handing out free hugs… ME FIRST! I just want you to know that if you’re struggling – with disability, mental illness or just life in general – there IS a way forward! It turns out, I’ve been getting H1s in my sleep. (Literally!) If I can do it, you ABSOLUTELY can, too! Without sounding life-time movie-ish, you never know what wonderful things you’re capable of! Even if it’s something relatively small. Even if it’s just finding the motivation to try. (This, I’m learning, takes guts!)

It’s not always easy having a misbehaving noggin, but there are PLENTY of positives! I now have an excellent excuse to take a nanna-nap whenever I like. (Rowden White Library – here I come!) I’m entitled to loads of amazing support services at uni and, unlike a lot of students, I’m practically insomnia-proof!! (If anyone feels like a sleeping competition – count me in!)

One thing, above all, has left me deeply chuffed…

Idiopathic Hypersomnia is a proven cause of clumsiness.

After 20 long years, modern science can finally explain why I’m always bumping into things!

Until next time, my dear, lovely reader pals!