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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Accused of Laziness Has Diagnosed Sleep Disorder

DEAR ABBY: I am a female in my mid-20s. My whole life I have been in a constant state of exhaustion. When I was in school, I'd try so hard not to fall asleep in class. (I actually enjoyed school and got good grades.) But when I got home, I'd have to take a nap before doing my homework or chores because otherwise I would fall asleep in the middle of it.

Fast-forward to now: I am a working adult. I'm going back to college, and I have been recently diagnosed with hypersomnia/borderline narcolepsy. I'm on stimulants to help me through the day, but they don't always work. Some days I struggle to find the motivation to do the simplest tasks because my body just wants to rest.

Do you know of any support groups for this condition so I can talk with others who deal with this, too? No one I know seems to understand, and I'm often regarded as lazy. Please help! -- SLEEPY IN WASHINGTON

DEAR SLEEPY: There are misperceptions about narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder that affects 1 in 2,000 individuals in the United States. Fortunately, there is an organization you might find helpful. It's the Narcolepsy Network, which is based in your state. It provides support and education for persons with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, their families and others. It also helps with coping skills, family and community problems. There are support groups in many states as well as online support. To learn more, go to narcolepsynetwork.org or call toll-free 888-292-6522.