I'm a first year, narcoleptic university student from Northern Ireland, studying in Glasgow, Scotland.
My dream was to have been able to attend university back home so that I would be near my family (I come from a large family of 7 kids, we are all pretty close and so it is tough moving away! Constant homesickness), my friends and my dog that I love more than anything!
However, towards the end of 2015 I began my extremely long (ongoing) journey towards being diagnosed for narcolepsy- meanwhile it is rapidly getting worse. I was on track to get the grades in order to study in N.I. as at AS level I had obtained ABB in my exams, was targeted by my schools career teacher to achieve AAB at A level, and needed ABB at overall A level in order to study my desired course at home.
I had studied hard, I was on a track and therefore I wasn't worried, I was sure that I would be able to study at home. Studying back home meant being able to keep my job on the weekends so I wouldn't drown under all the costs necessary to be a uni student (textbooks, accommodation, travel, groceries, clothes, socialising etc).
Due to my confidence on this matter I took out credit cards in order to help myself pay for my holiday with my bestfriend (stupid I know, it's a big regret due to over-confidence) so that we could de-stress after exams and have a great time together before university started and we had to be adults. I thought that I would still have my job on the weekends if I were to attend uni in N.I. to help me pay for these credit card bills.
Weeks before my first exams started I was prescribed medication (modafinil) for my narcolepsy- something I was obviously overjoyed about! However as those weeks progressed and my medication had not had a good enough effect (I was still falling asleep very often) after the initial first week, and I could see my condition continue to get worse, I contacted my GP for help. However GP's being ignorant to anything about narcolepsy (and me not having direct contact to a neurologist. Appointments were made through the GP unless I was contacted by the neurology department for an appointment), I was told to just give it time.
This was obviously frustrating for me. My medication had worked for the first week, then nothing. My condition is always getting worse and my exams were to begin in a number of days.
Skip on a bit, and I ended up falling asleep in the majority of my exams. It was heart breaking, and I came out of too many exams feeling like crap. In the end, my a level grades were BBC and I didn't get into university in N.I. which is how I ended up in Glasgow.
However I think I have hit rock bottom. I just can't afford to continue my education here as the cost of living is not something I can afford on my student loan alone. My accommodation is £470 a month alone. I had to borrow £650 off my brother in order to pay for my deposit for my university halls accommodation which I promised to pay him back from each of my 3 student loan payments. On top of this I'm also paying back my credit cards that I stupidly took out, paying for my mobile phone contract and of course paying for other things such as laundry, groceries, socialising, textbooks, clothes etc.
Moreover, I have to pay for flights and transport back home whenever I am contacted about a neurologist appointment. I didn't swap over to a doctor in Scotland because the NHS waiting lists for neurology are too long (I was on the waiting list from october/November 2015 until the end of March 2016) and I don't want risk being put on to a massive waiting list again and slow down any progress I am making on the journey to being diagnosed (I'm currently on a presumptive diagnosis and undergoing many processes in order to be diagnosed e.g. Sleep tests, blood tests, MRI scans, genetic testing etc). This could mean that it would take longer for me to receive better medication (I'm still on my original modafinil medication. I'm only prescribed to take 400mg per day however this has no noticeable effect to me even though it is something to have an all day effect, and even 600mg only lasts a few 3 hours or so if I'm lucky, not even a full day of classes) and that's not something I want to risk as I'm already falling asleep in my university classes and am in the hope that I could possibly be helped for my first year exams.
Then there are the costs of just visiting my family back home too and I'm rapidly being snowed under with bills, and it's now gotten to the point where I think I'm going to have to try and search for a job here in order to help ease the burden a little. My parents asked me ages ago if I could at least hold off until after Christmas to get a job as it is one of the busiest times of the year for part time workers and I wouldn't be able to get the time off work to come home to visit my family for Christmas. They're also worried that work could tire me further. However I don't think I have a choice now and will just have to go for it anyways. The life I'm living here is no life at the minute. I can't afford to visit my family and friends that I miss desperately, I can't afford to socialise with the friends I have made here, I'm stressed out over all of this and it's interrupting my sleep at night (further tiredness), and I really don't want to drop out of university. I don't see a good life for me without it, and I know I am smart and it would be a waste of my abilities.
Receiving financial help from my parents isn't really an option and I wouldn't feel right asking. My father works as a Hermes delivery driver and my mother as always been a stay at home mum (something I've always been in awe of... for people that say it isn't a job, try raising 7 kids. She is amazing), and 3 of my siblings still live at home. As a result my parents aren't really in a financial position to help me, and due to some other family issues they are already quite stressed out, and asking them for money just is not something I can do, as I know they would never say no and would scrape together every penny possible to help me, no matter the effect it would have on them.
And so people if you have gotten this far into my my massive essay I firstly commend you and thank you, and secondly ask for any donation that you can spare! I will get a job and miss Christmas and miss seeing my family if I have to, but it's something that breaks my heart to think of and so I ask for your help!
Please, thank you, and all my love.