All of us have been there: you’re at work and an important deadline is coming up–your boss is breathing down your neck, and your co-workers are micro-managing the project.
It’s tough enough when you’re completely healthy, but throw in a chronic condition such as narcolepsy, and you have a recipe for unbelievable stress, panic over the thought of losing your job, and resulting feelings of low self-esteem. And it’s not even your fault!
You didn’t choose to have narcolepsy, any more than someone else would choose to have diabetes. You know narcolepsy causes excessive daytime sleepiness, but how do you keep explaining your narcolepsy over and over again to you co-workers who suspect your inability to stay awake at times is because you’re leading some type of nefarious night life. If only. Sometimes you just want to say,
“Yeah, I throw on my Bat Cape and dash out into the night as soon as I punch out of work.”
Luckily, narcolepsy is classified as a disability that entitles you to certain protections in the workplace, but chances are you’ll have to fight for your rights. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a person because of their race, color, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.
If you feel like you’re being discriminated against at work because of your narcolepsy, you should file a charge with the EEOC.
You are also entitled to reasonable accommodations at work, such as a quiet place to nap during your lunch hour. It’s definitely worth knowing your rights–but don’t expect your employer to be happy about your proactiveness. Sometimes, you just have to have nerves of steel.