...why not boast about Leopold and Loeb?
ANOTHER REASON FOR RITALIN
While “Behind the
Campus Buzz” highlighted the abuse of prescription ADHD
drugs by students seeking performance enhancers beyond caffeine,
my own GPA is evidence that I didn’t succumb to the temptation.
However, for the past year or so, I’ve
legitimately taken Ritalin pills every day. I don’t have ADHD;
I have narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is the disorder people laugh at in
the movies when they show characters suddenly stiffening and falling
over, fast asleep. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders
and Strokes describes narcolepsy as a “disabling neurological
disorder of sleep regulation that affects the control of sleep and
wakefulness.” According to the Stanford Center for Narcolepsy,
the disorder affects more than one in 2,000 Americans, most of whom
go undiagnosed and untreated. The symptoms vary in combination and
intensity and include excessive daytime sleepiness, abnormal REM
sleep, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, and cataplexy.
Physicians trained in pulmonology or sleep medicine
diagnose narcolepsy with a nocturnal polysomnogram and a multiple
sleep latency test, or by measuring hypocretin levels in cerebrospinal
fluids. Stimulants such as Ritalin or Provigil are prescribed to
manage the symptoms of diagnosed narcoleptics.
Sometimes narcoleptics can be misdiagnosed, as
I was, with depression and be prescribed medications that aggravate
their narcolepsy symptoms.
Occasionally nodding off during a lecture class
or while studying is typical. Being frustrated with not having enough
time to study is normal. It is atypical and abnormal to be frustrated
because you can never stay awake. If more than 40 million Americans
suffer from a sleep disorder, a few people might recognize themselves
in this letter and see their doctors.
Elizabeth Magno Pangerl, SB’98
White Bear Lake, Minnesota
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