A personal trainer who falls asleep up to 16 times a day because of her medical condition says strangers are the sleepiness of being drunk.
Belle Hutt, 24, from Oxford, was diagnosed with severe narcolepsy after having a swine flu vaccination in 2009.
The condition made her suffer from hallucinations and sleep paralysis, making her aware of her surroundings but unable to move or speak.
It left her terrified of her constant naps, unable to tell between reality and what her hallucinations produced.
Miss Hutt fell asleep during classes, was unable to keep a job or drive, and her love life was destroyed because she regularly fell asleep on dates.
But after years of a living nightmare, Miss Hutt said she was finally able to control her condition because it keeps her energetic.
Belle Hutt, 24, was diagnosed with severe narcolepsy, which can be caused by a change in hormones or infection, following a vaccination against swine flu in 2009
Miss Hutt from Oxford suddenly falls asleep up to 16 times a day (photo)
The bizarre situation meant that she fell asleep during classes, was unable to keep a job or drive, and her love life was destroyed because she regularly fell asleep on data. Depicted, sleeping in her garden
Miss Hutt, who now lives in Amsterdam, said: & # 39; I was often accused of waste in public places, a woman once asked me if I & # 39; had drunk in the morning.
& # 39; Even my doctor asked me how much alcohol I drank when I went to see him for help.
& # 39; I would rarely go alone. It is very difficult to explain and I sound drunk and my eyes drop.
At the age of 17, Miss Hutt was diagnosed with narcolepsy, after a Mexican flu shot had her tired, exhausted and asleep during class.
Narcolepsy is a rare brain disease caused by the lack of a brain substance called & # 39; orexin & # 39; that regulates vigilance.
It causes sleep attacks – when the person suddenly falls asleep, sleep paralysis, fatigue and hallucinations, and is thought to be caused by an infection, psychological stress or hormonal changes.
Miss Hutt said: “I was in school and I was really struggling – it would start in the classroom and I couldn't control it, it might happen four times in each lesson.
& # 39; I was diagnosed fairly quickly, the results came back that I had severe narcolepsy. & # 39;
As Miss Hutt's condition worsened, she had hallucinations that & # 39; very frightening & # 39; were audio, visual and even physical.
She vividly remembers once she was convinced that two men were in her bedroom, and once filmed herself asleep out of curiosity.
Miss Hutt, always in and out of sleep, said she felt she was always in a & # 39; dream state & # 39; used to be.
Miss Hutt's love life suffered when she slept on dates. Recently pictured
Miss Hutt, who now lives in Amsterdam, said that she very rarely goes out on her own, because when she is sleepy (photos & # 39; s), she can sound drunk and let her eyes fall
To make matters worse, narcolepsy caused Miss Hutt to suffer from hallucinations and sleep paralysis, making her aware of her surroundings but unable to move or talk. She said she was too scared to sleep. Pictured when she filmed herself to see what happened
WHAT IS NARCOLEPSY?
Narcolepsy is a rare, long-term brain disorder that causes patients to fall asleep suddenly at inappropriate times.
It affects around 30,000 people in the UK and 200,000 in the US.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Falling asleep suddenly without warning
- Temporary loss of muscle control, leading to weakness and collapse
- Sleep paralysis
- Excessive dreaming and & # 39; waking up at night
Narcolepsy is caused by a lack of chemical hypocretin in the brain, which regulates vigilance.
This is thought to occur because of attacking cells of the immune system that produce hypocretin or receptors that make it possible to work.
It can also be caused by hormonal changes, stress and infections.
There is no medicine.
Sufferers are advised to sleep frequently during the day and to adhere to a strict bedtime routine.
Medication can help to reduce daytime sleepiness and prevent loss of muscle control.
Source: NHS Choices
She said: “I also get sleep paralysis, so while everything was going on I couldn't move my body and I was pretty scared of what the next step with narcolepsy would be for me because it just got worse every day .
& # 39; The first two years of hallucinations were very difficult for me because I was reluctant to go to sleep, I hated going to bed because I was so scared that I would hallucinate again.
& # 39; So I was very reluctant to rest, and I was on more medication. I tried to keep myself awake all the time.
& # 39; I was also drinking a lot of coffee and that is really not the way to do it. & # 39;
Miss Hutt realized that her exercise made her feel more alert and could therefore control her condition.
According to the NHS, there is no cure for narcolepsy, but sleepiness can be managed by arranging naps all day.
Miss Hutt said: “As a child I was always busy running and I knew when I ran away, I felt completely crazy about my narcoleptic self, I felt so alive.
& # 39; I realized that exercise was the best way to keep my condition under control – so I needed a job that meant I was never quiet. & # 39;
Miss Hutt became a personal trainer and said healthy eating – especially with a lot of proteins and vegetables – also improved her quality of life.
She said: & # 39; I can schedule naps in 10 minutes between my lessons and then I feel fine.
& # 39; The more I went to work, the more I felt awake and actually eliminated my hallucinations and my sleep paralysis. & # 39;
Miss Hutt realized that her exercise made her feel more alert and could therefore control her condition. She naps between classes. Pictured in the gym
Miss Hutt is now happy with her friend Maikel, who was forced to live with Miss Hutt and her mother so that he could get a better understanding of the situation before they brought the couple together
Although her narcolepsy was the reason her previous partners ended their relationship, Miss Hutt is now happy with her friend Maikel in Amsterdam, whose last name has not been revealed.
She said: & # 39; Previous friends had a real problem with my narcolepsy. I did not want to lie in the morning, I hate it, for me it is terrible because I am starting to hallucinate.
& # 39; When we went to dinner and I fell asleep, they would really be embarrassed and terrible for me.
& # 39; Now I am so happy that I have found someone who is supportive and understanding. When I met him, I told him about it and he was so crazy about it, he said, "I just want to get to know you".
& # 39; My mother actually let him come to us before we went to live together, she said: "You should see what it's like to live with Belle". He came and he realized, not that I am difficult, but it is different.
& # 39; Every time I fall asleep, he holds my hand and just gives him the chance to watch football, so he doesn't mind. & # 39;
Miss Hutt credits Maikel and her mother to guide her through difficult times with her condition.
Her advice is to remain active as much as possible & # 39; and says & # 39; you have narcolepsy and it doesn't have you & # 39 ;.
You can follow her journey Instagram.
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