Julie’s Case Study

Julie came to see me because she didn’t feel well. Her doctor recommended she take an amphetamine due to her narcolepsy diagnosis. Narcolepsy is a label given to those with excessive daytime sleepiness and/or sudden episodes of falling asleep. She was hoping Chinese Medicine could help.

At her first visit, she told me her story — years of pushing the envelope against her normal sleep cycles. As we talked, I asked questions to unpack the meaning in her language. I wondered, if her mind wanted to keep going and her body did not, was it possible her body had an automatic off switch that was overriding her mind when she was pushing too hard? She hadn’t thought of this disease framed in that possibility.

Next, I asked how her body felt with the new reframing. She stopped talking, got quiet, and she said there was a big difference in how her body felt — much lighter and with a certain “up” feeling. She called it relief. The narcolepsy diagnosis had felt heavy, especially because she understood it would have to be managed for the rest of her life. She was always worried when “it” was going to happen.

Next, I asked, “Are you in charge of the coming and going of heaviness and lightness in your body?” This question is always met with a bit of hesitation and a quizzical smile. This question is particularly important in the process, because it reminds us that with more awareness, we have more power. Now Julie’s job was to notice where and when she felt her body sensations and to notice if any patterns emerged.

Next, I asked if she knew the body sensations she feels when she needs more sleep. She was able to identify that her body felt heavy and her mind had trouble focusing. Once we had this information we decided that when she felt these sensations she would take a nap, or at least find a way to rest.

After three meetings, she had a huge reduction of episodes of falling asleep during the day. Over the course of our time together, she also resolved some personal and professional issues she hadn’t observed also lived in her body. Now she is much more tuned in to her body. She recognizes and trusts the sensations that arise before the sleepiness that means she’s pushed herself too far. She knows that it serves her, and those close to her, that she gets the rest she needs. Now that she is aware of her physical and emotional sensations, she is able to expand her awareness to address other concerns by practicing the wellness skills.