For my entire adult life, I have experienced sleep paralysis, usually with hallucinations – and not just a random bout, but frequently, often occurring during afternoon naps. I thought this was normal, that everyone had it, and I’d always request that my dating partners awaken me immediately if they heard me make a noise in my sleep, as that would mean I was feeling trapped. Sleep paralysis is as terrifying as it sounds – I have “seen” figures in my room, pulling the sheets off of my bed while I was unable to move.
I’m tired 100% of the time. I can sleep anywhere, anytime, and have fallen asleep during movies, at school, at jobs, and very nearly while driving. Chalked it up to side effects from depression or Gaucher’s.
While we were in LA this summer, we drove down to Redondo to visit my Boston Terrier friend, Tammy and her wife. Through the course of conversation (and a few local beers!), I learned that Tammy used to be a sleep specialist, and it was she who told me that what I was experiencing was definitely not normal. Tammy urged me to get a sleep study done with an MSLT, which I did last month and I was legitimately happy to have a diagnosis. I just started medication and already feel less lethargic and more alert, less cranky & more positive. It’s also nice to be able to say “fuck you” to the ex-boyfriends who thought I was “lazy” because I needed to sleep. 😉
Throughout these past few months, Tammy texted me information, explained the process of the tests, and looked up medications for me. I am so grateful for her knowledge and support, and so lucky to know her. What’s wild about this is that we met through our dogs’ Instagram accounts several years ago – you never know what kind of amazing people will come into your life via the world of social media!
I’m sharing a cool article about sleep paralysis for you to read here, but I’m also going to encourage you do something else. The whole time Tammy was helping me, she was also kicking ovarian cancer’s ass – a fight that’s not quite finished.
Sometimes it’s the kindness of people you may not know super well, or who you’ve only known a short amount of time that can make the greatest impact. Tammy took the time to not just listen, but engage, and support. She didn’t have to do that – we live on opposite coasts and it would have been easy to say good luck and forget all about it. But she didn’t. She stayed present and is the very epitome of present – documenting her experiences through her photos on Instagram, showing us the beauty in everyday life – a cat eating fish on a street in Italy, dragon kites flown at the beach, shadows of palm trees on Union Station. In this way, she forces you to be present. To view what we may feel are our ordinary lives as extraordinary. For me, this is street photography at its finest.
So here’s the thing: Tammy literally gave me free medical advice without having her own medical insurance. It was terminated – without warning – January of this year. While battling stage IV ovarian cancer, and the multitude of repercussions as a result from that – physical, emotional, financial. This is where my ask comes in – a request to join me in showing gratitude for kindness. Gratitude for keeping us present. Gratitude for her joy.
Just click on Tammy, and you’ll know what to do from there. 💙
*title taken from the song ‘Night Nurse’ by Dean & Britta.