How Did This Woman With Cataplexy Wake Up in the Morgue?

Picture this: Little ol’ you enjoying a night at the theater. Mid-movie, you drop to the ground, completely paralyzed. Your limp body looks lifeless; but you can still hear and feel everything—the frantic screaming, the urgent nudging of your body. You’re rushed to the hospital where you hear doctors pronounce you dead. Desperately hoping someone can hear you screaming, no one does. You’re then sent to the morgue and left in a cold, dark room surrounded by dead bodies of all sorts.

Literally terrifying.

That’s June Burchell’s story. She’s been mistakenly sent to the morgue not once, not twice, but three times. The first time it happened, she was a teenager. To her horror, June was pronounced dead upon her arrival to the hospital and awoke several hours later surrounded by dead bodies. Her fear, she says, is not death, but being buried alive.

She tried to put the experience behind her, but it was difficult. Especially because the same scary scenario happened again the next year.

It wasn’t until much later in her life that June was finally diagnosed with cataplexy, a mysterious medical condition that often coincides with narcolepsy.

June, specifically, found that she collapses when she’s overcome with strong emotion. And when she does collapse, she’s remained in the state for minutes, hours, and even days. She’s currently documented as one of the worst cases of cataplexy in the world.

Fortunately, June’s story is not common. There are more than two million people who suffer from cataplexy worldwide and research continues to bring hope and treatment options.


Winnie Nash

Winnie Nash

Winnie Nash, born and bred in Charleston, South Carolina, likes to think she’s sweet as tea. Passionate for people, stories, and a little bit of glitter, she has an especially soft spot for patients and their journeys. A writer with true disdain for clichés, Winnie catches every detail of a story—intently listening—craving the next word. Some may call it nosiness, but to her, it’s just wholesome curiosity.

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