The big question: How does having Narcolepsy and employment work? This one took me a while to figure out. Saying that figuring out how to make a living while dealing with this disease was difficult is an understatement. I’ve been through the ringer trying to solve this problem. I’ve had to quit a family job I thought I would have for the rest of my life, I’ve been fired, and I’ve jumped around industries.
My struggles with Narcolepsy and Employment
Honestly, there was a time in my life where I thought I would never be able to produce income on my own because of my narcolepsy. I told myself that story over and over. It was a narrative that was on repeat inside my head. I had to quit my family business straight out of college, the stress of working for AmeriCorps NCCC rendered me useless at times because of my EDS, and I practically gave up multiple times with looking for work. Thankfully, I made a vow to myself to figure it out, and relay my findings to others who have narcolepsy, so that I could perhaps help them. Below are my findings, tips, and overall guidelines for narcolepsy and employment.
Narcolepsy and Employment
First off, let’s try to help you out with your exact challenge.
Why are you here? Which exact bucket do you fall in:
Are you a person with Narcolepsy that is looking for work?
Do you currently have employment but are you struggling with work?
Looking to change jobs entirely?
- You have Narcolepsy and you are actively seeking work.
First things first, you need to upgrade your mindset. I know you’ve probably been down before. You’re probably telling yourself a story in your head over and over. One that says “I’ll never be able to work with this disease” or “no one understands me”. I’ve been there before. In fact, I’ve spent years with those stories on repeat in my head. Everything changed for me when I went to a unleash the power within seminar and realized that I was placing limitations on myself that I didn’t need to. I was firing myself from jobs I didn’t even work at yet. Will replacing a negative mindset about work with a positive mindset melt away all your problems? Of course not. But it will give you permission to try your damn hardest. Sometimes, that is the only thing that was holding us back.
Secondly, get your diet and stress-management on track. I can’t stress enough how much my diet and ability to handle stress DIRECTLY affect my EDS. I need you to understand that once you eat cleaner and pick up tools like meditation, things will change for the better.
Next, be sure to know your legal rights. Those with disabilities are protected under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Narcolepsy falls into this category. You are given the opportunity to work and your employer is legally required to provide reasonable accommodations. Don’t be afraid to fight for that ideal time slot or ability to take power naps at work.
Sidenote: I’m not an attorney, so I can’t determine what qualifies as “reasonable accommodations”.
It’s my rule of thumb to not disclose my narcolepsy until I am offered the job. Even though it would be illegal for the company to discriminate against me because of it, I want to be sure that I have the best opportunity to be hired.
Lastly, be realistic. There will be jobs that work in congruence with this disease and there will be jobs that don’t. Sometimes you have to let go of some dreams in order to embrace others.
2. Making your current job better
So you currently have a job but you’re struggling with it? Let’s see if I can help. Again, let me drill this into you, is your diet on point? That should be the first and foremost thing you do in order to help with work. If you continue to put garbage into your body, you will get garbage out. Changing my diet has been hands down the most impactful thing I’ve done to reduce the symptoms of my EDS.
Are you aware of your legal rights? Check out this article on narcolepsy work accommodations to be more informed.
Next, be aware of the products that can help:
Pre-workout supplement (for emergencies)
How is your work structured? Structuring your work could be choosing the ideal timeshift where you’re working during your most alert hours. It could mean adding in periodic naps. Essentially it’s anything to optimize your wakefulness while diminishing your EDS to help with narcolepsy and employment.
Don’t be afraid to have those hard conversations with management. Fight for your right to the ideal shift or ask for that standing desk.
3. Changing jobs entirely
Do you work in a career that just isn’t the best for you and your narcolepsy? Consider changing jobs. I know it’ll be hard, trust me, I’ve been there several times before. But once you find a means of employment that you know you can do with your narcolepsy a level of stress will be lifted from you that you can’t even imagine.
I’ll be writing a larger post on the ideal jobs for narcolepsy and how to get hired. It will be posted on my blog soon.
Bonus: How to increase your income through freelancing
We live in a world today where you can make money, ethically, through countless ways online. Here’s a summary of the ways:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Web Services (Web Design and Graphic Design)
- Selling physical products
- Information content
- Online Courses
- Business to business services
- Content writing
- Product Reviews
- Task Rabbit
Below are my favorite resources on how to make money online: