Running, Narcolepsy, Julie FlygareI have a new inspiration, Julie Flygare.  She is the author of the book, “Wide Awake And Dreaming: A Memoir of Narcolepsy”.  I never thought that a book that I downloaded to keep me occupied on a train ride would rouse me with the story of a smart, strong female runner, blogger and yogi.

I’ve always liked books about people who find their way in the face of an obstacle of some sort – addiction, poor parent guidance, financial struggles, injuries, disabilities or in the case of Julie Flygare, the neurological disease narcolepsy, which she was diagnosed with in her twenties while in law school.

I have my own sleep issues (I’m an insomniac) but I knew very little about narcolepsy and nothing about cataplexy – the sudden loss of muscle tone often brought on by strong emotions.  

By reading Julie’s book, I learned more about the neurological autoimmune sleep disorder that affects 1 in 2,000 Americans (including talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel ).  The disorder is caused by the brain’s inability to maintain normal sleep and wake cycles.  See here for more Narcolepsy Quick Facts from Julie’s blog.

Julie’s book explains how she began to show symptoms of narcolepsy, the difficulty in being diagnosed, reactions from her friends and family once she was diagnosed and her own emotional, physical, mental and medical adjustments to living a life she didn’t envision for herself.  The writing is honest yet accessible and you can’t help but feel like you want to be Julie’s friend and supporter.

For me, the book hits home when Julie decides to shift focus and utilize her love of running to begin the blog REM Runner while training for the 2010 Boston Marathon – the Boston marathon, people – to raise funds for Narcolepsy research.  I ran my first (and only) marathon for cancer research and I still use the desire to help others to help fuel me in my running.

Watch this video of Julie, a Fly (Runner) Girl, finishing the 2012 Mount Washington Road Race (the steepest road race in the US) and get a little inspiration yourself:

I reached out to Julie on Twitter (@remrunner) and through her blog to let her know how much she inspired me.  I’m honored that she gave me her approval to write her story on my blog.

You can buy Julie’s book, “Wide Awake And Dreaming” from this link and if you are in the Washington DC area on March 3rd, show your support by taking part in the 3rd Annual National Sleep Walk celebrating sleep health and sleep disorder awareness.

I have no professional affiliation with Julie Flygare, Mill Pond Swan Publishing or the National Sleep Walk and have received no measure of compensation for this post.  All opinions stated here are my own.