Argh. I am in my 4th week of a 5 week block of music teaching at a high school. Thus far I have taken a day and a half off - a whole day just before my exam to sleep and recoup and study a little, and the first half of one day to actually do my exam, coming back to school to teach the rest of the day. Right now, this Tuesday afternoon.... I am hitting the wall, big time. In terms of sleep, I have really made an effort the last 4 days to get as much as possible. I've gone to bed REALLY early (9.30pm people... and that took effort), I have had naps during the day and after school, I've been prepared for all my lessons.... but I am dead. I was feeling really tired yesterday but I thought it may partially be because I was dreading double Year 8 the following morning, so I thought I would tough it out and see how I felt afterwards. As the day wore on today I was getting worse and worse.... I could feel my body starting to give up during my classes. I even saw my head teacher at lunch before my last period and made sure there was going to be someone around in the staffroom just in case I felt myself giving up. It's happened before, at the vet - at the end of a day my facial muscles have just packed it in and stopped emoting and I've really had to make a huge effort to focus on particular jobs just to keep myself going and staying awake til the end of a shift. That's all good when you have almost no clients and don't have to talk to anyone. Not acceptable when you are responsible for 25 hyped up teenagers hell bent on exploiting any moment they can to leave the classroom when they think you're not watching.
I've been really split on the the issue of whether I should take a day off tomorrow. I mean... I need it. I'm so tired. My body has really missed the mid-week sleep in, and having days off where I can just slow down and rest. But I also need money, and I don't know how I'm going to cope income-wise after this block is finished. What I just needed was for someone else to say, "Yes, it's ok to think about your health and put that first." So I emailed my parents, asking for that. And I know they mean well.... but all I got was an awesome guilt trip. That I could stay home and recharge, or I could push through tomorrow and the rest of the block and uphold my reputation as a reliable, competent teacher.
This is what I hate the most about having narcolepsy. The misconception that my desparate need for sleep equates to being lazy, rude, bored or incompetent. If I can't even convince my parents that this is not the case, what hope to I have convincing people like potential future employees, long term partners, or friends that I am really a good person, just a bit sleepy all the time?? It's like I have my own personal sabotage button... whenever I get onto a good thing, narcolepsy sneaks in and ruins it. Now, by taking tomorrow off (or any other day) I am running the risk of appearing unreliable and incompetent. How can I explain to people that I do things like this in order to remain reliable and competent?? If I don't get enough sleep, I run the risk of being unintelligible in class, unable to focus/teach/maintain control, facial cataplexy and the very likely situation of going somewhere for a nap and completely missing a period. Yet I take a day off, in order to be better equipped personally and mentally and I risk being written off as a liability.
I'm not. I am great, and I can contribute great things. I'm just not perfect. I'm sorry.