While most of us would probably love to spend as much time as possible in bed, for a few people it’s less of a choice and more of a complex disorder.
21-year-old student Rhoda Rodriguez-Diaz is such a person. Contrary to popular opinion, students rarely sleep 22 hours a day. Rhoda, however, lives with Kleine-Levin Syndrome, and suffers from recurring periods of excessive sleep, often spending days or even weeks in bed, unable to rouse herself for more than an hour or two.
Because of this, the student has unfortunately been labelled ‘lazy’ by others who are unaware of her condition.
The rare neurological disorder can become debilitating for sufferers. Rhoda herself failed her second year of university because she slept through her exams.
The 21-year-old said:
Life goes on whilst I’m sleeping. Reality hits me when I wake up and realise I’ve missed like a week of my life.
I feel a huge setback when it does happen. I miss out on so much. That’s the hardest part of it.
It’s hard to explain to people where I have been. Because it’s so rare a lot of people struggle to understand.
People suffering from Kleine-Levin Syndrome can sleep for up to 22 hours a day, with episodes lasting between a few days to a few weeks. During an episode, sufferers can also display excessive food intake, irritability, childishness, disorientation, hallucinations, and an abnormally uninhibited sex drive, according to rarediseases.info.
It’s really annoying when people call me lazy. I do struggle to deal with the effects of it.
But I’m determined to not let it have a big impact on my life. It is one part of me and not who I am.
It’s frustrating because people think I’m just lazy. But I’m not, I can’t help it.
After being dismissed from her university course due to the condition, Rhoda has now re-enrolled to start her second year of university again.
I missed so many exams. 60 per cent of my course is exams and I missed half of them.
It wasn’t my fault. But they said this is an ‘exceptional case’ so I am allowed to go back. It’s a big relief but I have to redo a lot of work I did in second year. It was difficult for me.
People with Kleine-Levin Syndrome usually grow out the condition, and Rhoda is learning to manage it more these days.
I’m more aware of it now. I know when I’m going to have an episode. This is just a hiccup in my life and I am just waiting until it fades out. I want to be taken serious in life and this isn’t helping.
Hopefully it won’t be long before it fades out altogether.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.