The Challenge of Revealing a Narcolepsy Diagnosis

How would you feel if someone you love, someone you care about more than anything else in the world, needed brain surgery to remove a tumor and, right as that person is being wheeled into the operating room, you find out that the surgeon has narcolepsy?

Would it make you any more worried than you were already? Should medical conditions limit the jobs people are allowed to have? Would it be better if, instead of a brain surgeon, the doctor with narcolepsy worked as a general practitioner?

Maybe those questions simply make you angry as you wonder how, in 2016, can people still be discriminated against for health conditions, despite the laws designed to protect against such behavior.

Where do your personal scales fall on all this? Source:

In an anonymous post on, one person highlights her journey to diagnosis and the mixed emotions about revealing her status to others. Even as she’s about to become a doctor and enter the medical field, she’s “still limited by the misconceptions” around her narcolepsy.

“this diagnosis has become my secret to keep.”

Unfortunately, this is a situation that too many people face. All too often, the general public thinks of narcolepsy as a condition that will make you immediately fall asleep without warning, like Rusty, the Narcoleptic Dachshund.

The anonymous poster has obviously decided not to reveal her diagnosis. Why? Because her “dreams […] would be ruined” if residency programs had a reason to view her “as a liability.”

It’s a catch-22: If she were to “out” herself, she could potentially increase people’s perception of narcolepsy, but because it isn’t understood she feels she can’t say anything.


James Ernest Cassady

James Ernest Cassady

Though "Ernest" is a family name that's been passed down for generations, James truly earned his middle moniker when, at the age of five, he told his mother that "laughing is stupid unless EVERYBODY is happy." Since then, the serious little bastard has been on a mission to highlight the world's shortcomings (and hopefully correct them). In addition to his volunteer work at hospitals and animal shelters, James also enjoys documentaries and the work of William Faulkner. He is originally from Oklahoma.

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