Why am I removing toilet paper rolls from the holder simply to place it on the bathroom floor? This is a question I had to ask myself recently after realizing I was doing so with zero memory of the events.
This revolution came after I decided I had to stop isolating myself from people. Spend more time with friends and try to fight away depression.
The most comfortable “baby step” into being more social was to spend more time with a new friend, Tyler, who also am advocates for mental health awareness. He wasn’t scary because he “got it”.
Finding a supportive friend who understands has helped tremendously. We spend a lot of time together. Time I would normally be held up alone in my real Nap Nook.
Last week Tyler asked me, “why do you take the toilet paper off of the wall and place it on the floor?” His voice was kind as though he anticipated the answer I would give. “What? I don’t. Do I?”
It turns out Tyler has been “watching” me. He first noticed the bathrooms at my house. Toilet paper on the wall and later on the floor. He didn’t say anything but made a note to watch. He found I had done it for sure at my home and his home several times (that he noticed). After he had enough evidence to say with certainty, he brought to my attention.
I believed him without question. I realized immediately, I had been finding myself picking toilet paper off the floor often but never questioning how it got there.
I cried. I was scared. I was doing this odd task with zero memory. I wondered what else I was doing no one had noticed yet. I wondered why I was doing this.
I reflected and spent time tracing memories back to find any details that would lead me to the answer for “what memories do I have of these days/nights and do they have any similarities for a clue?”
Following my memories, not only gave me a clue but answered my question.
I have Narcolepsy, Depression, and Anxiety with Panic Attacks
During my panic attacks I often cry... a lot. Ugly tears. It was sad for me to go to my friend and say, “I’ve been taking the toilet paper to wipe the tears from my face and not putting it away”. I felt like it was such a “pathetic” and embarrassing thing to admit. Not only did I not remember doing this but it’s because I was crying.
Narcolepsy is often triggered by emotions. Panic attacks are, well, emotional, right? ...but why the black outs? Automatic Behavior. The emotions from my anxiety are triggering my Narcolepsy and the symptom roaring in these moments are automatic behavior symptoms. For me, this wasn’t as “funny” and “light” as the examples I’ve always been given “socks in the freezer” being one great example of automatic behavior.
Narcolepsy Network defines Automatic Behavior as "A complex behavior or set of behaviors carried out by a person who appears to be awake but is actually between sleep and wakefulness. The behavior typically initiates while the subject is awake but continues into the semi-sleep state.”
I am becoming so sad, I will lose time, cry on the bathroom floor, steal toilet paper, and no one noticed until now.
I can’t help but wonder, “if this was noticed, what else am I doing that isn’t going noticed” and I’m comfortable admitting this scares me. It also makes me realize the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive people. The type of people who will “watch your back”
For now, I’ll be shopping for kleenex and hope I leave the toilet paper out of it but more importantly, I wanted to share this experience for others who may be going through something similar.
I just wanted to remind anyone who needed it, you are not alone.