Exciting News! Giving a TEDx Talk in San Diego

SO beyond excited to share this news: I’ll speak at TEDxSDSU on March 22, 2020 in San Diego, CA!

Giving a TEDx talk has been a major life goal for about 7 years now, when i put it in my art journal as one of my major aspirations. And I’ve applied to many over the years.

“Your dream doesn’t have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and try again.” —KT Witten

So securing this talk at San Diego State University was a huge surprise and surreal moment of pure joy — which definitely caused me to have cataplexy when i first opened the “congratulations” email.

You might’ve seen my somewhat secretive IG stories recently about working hard on a “important first draft.” This was for my TEDxSDSU talk.

Is my first draft perfect? NOPE.

But it WILL come together. It always does… even if the process is kind of intense and overwhelming to me, it will be worth it for the moment I walk onto that stage in two months.

As always, I hope to make you proud and to effectively share a message I believe in. Thank you for your incredible support — this community inspires me and gives me courage every single day!

I’ll share more details about the TEDxSDSU event as they become available and as tickets go on sale in February! For now, please send extra spoons and smart-thinking speech-revising vibes my way.

from Julie Flygare http://julieflygare.com/exciting-news-giving-a-tedx-talk-in-san-diego/…

You’re Invited! Join Me for Project Sleep’s New Year’s Celebration

Tune in this Saturday, Dec. 28th, 2019 at 12:00 noon ET for a very special  New Year’s Facebook LIVE—celebrating your amazing 2019 and looking ahead with a sneak peek of 2020! On behalf of Project Sleep’s leadership, I will broadcast live from Los Angeles to Project Sleep’s Facebook page this Saturday, Dec. 28th at 12noon ET.

You have accomplished SO much through Project Sleep’s awareness and advocacy programs this year. We can’t wait to share the story of your collective impact back to you because it’s a tremendous story of courage, hard work and making a difference!

To watch live, go to Project Sleep’s Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/ProjectSleepAwareness/) at 12:00 noon ET on Sat. 12/28. The live video will show up in our newsfeed shortly after 12noon ET.

Please spread the word to anyone interested. Happy Holidays, friends!

from Julie Flygare http://julieflygare.com/youre-invited-join-me-for-project-sleeps-new-years-celebration/…

“I will change how I treat my patients because of your talk.”

Last month, I gave one of my favorite presentations at the 10th Biennial Pediatric Sleep Medicine Conference hosted by my alma mater, Brown University.

My “TED-style talk” had two key messages:

  1. Prescribing social support to people with narcolepsy,
  2. Partnering with patients, patient leaders and organizations to develop patient-centered research toward recognizing and addressing stigma.

I’d spent months preparing for this speech. Having only 18 minutes, every second mattered. I practiced and revised and revised more. Arriving at the conference, the room was much bigger than I’d expected, between 200-300 pediatric sleep researchers, doctors and technicians in the audience. 

Once on stage, I didn’t get through my material perfectly, but I hit the emotional arch I wanted and I articulated my first key messages in new ways that I believe resonated strongly.

The response was tremendous, people stopped me all weekend to thank me, even as I loaded my suitcases into my lyft the next day, a doctor approached me to say that she is going to change how she treats her patients because of my talk. Wow!

Also kinda funny, I overheard two doctors talking about me in the hallway (really nice things), and I had to awkwardly be like “Oh, um hi! I’m right behind you.”

To me, speaking is an art form and I’ve fallen in love with it, and I can’t wait to continue developing this talk and sharing these messages in more places.

From there, I traveled to Washington, D.C. for Project Sleep’s Congressional Briefing and Hill Day co-hosted with the Sleep Research Society (SRS). I felt ready for this advocacy day and the activities went super well.  I believe we are doing unique and important work advocating specifically for sleep health and sleep disorders research and awareness. Read the full re-cap on Project Sleep’s blog.

While in DC, I got to meet some very special people, including Project Sleep’s newest Board Member, Anne Taylor and Project Sleep’s 2017 Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship recipient, Cassandra Stewart. I also had some important meetings that will likely mean exciting things for Project Sleep in the years to come. I can’t …

Celebrating 10 years of the REM Runner Blog!

10 years ago today, I came out as a person with narcolepsy. On November 10, 2009, I started this REM Runner blog, disclosing on the internet for the first time that: “I’m Julie Flygare, a person living with narcolepsy with cataplexy.” 

From my original About Me: 

“Narcolepsy has changed my life for better and worse. I am proud to be a person with narcolepsy, yet I hope to build a brighter future for this serious chronic illness… On this blog, I will share some of my experiences as a person with narcolepsy, and as a runner, yogi, and photographer. In doing so, I hope to shed some light on narcolepsy, a little known and often misunderstood condition.”

Feels like yesterday? Nope.

I wish I could say “it feels like yesterday,” but honestly, it feels like a lifetime ago. My drive and mission remains the same, but this past decade has been a tremendous period of growth for me, the lowest of lows and highest of highs. Some of the lows I’ve shared here, like losing my dad and the nutty rollercoaster of publishing my book, others I’ve kept private.

At the same time, I ran three marathons, published Wide Awake and Dreaming: A Memoir of Narcolepsy, created the Narcolepsy: Not Alone campaign, founded Project Sleep, moved across the country, co-founded the Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship, worked full-time in the cancer non-profit space, fell in-love with speaking, and eventually took on my dream job of running Project Sleep

My blog is OLDER than Instagram.

When I started this blog, it was an important platform for me to share candid stories about living with type 1 narcolepsy with cataplexy. At the time, blogs were fairly new and Instagram didn’t even exist (IG launched the following year, on Oct. 6, 2010).

Today, I don’t publish here as much as I’d like. I have dozens of half-written posts and ideas listed in notebooks. When I prioritize my time so carefully, blogging often gets cut. At some point, I started to over-think each post. Meanwhile, Instagram snuck into my …

Listen Now: Social Experience of Narcolepsy on Sleep Junkies Podcast

“I remember keeping [my narcolepsy] private and always feeling like it was this thing sitting at the back of my throat that I wanted to share, but just stopping myself, remembering ‘you’ll get a bad reaction, this person won’t understand.’”   – Julie Flygare, Sleep Junkies podcast

 “So you went from something being a secret to the outside world, and then you kind of switched on the turbo, started a blog, wrote your book, and then to Project Sleep… From one extreme to the other and there seems to be no stopping what you’re doing.”    – Jeff Mann, Sleep Junkies

I was honored to be interviewed recently for the Sleep Junkies podcast – listen here! Please share this with friends to inform your community on what it’s REALLY like to live with narcolepsy. The psychosocial impact, stigma and undue jokes are a huge part of living with narcolepsy, yet under-discussed.

033: Narcolepsy: the social experience – Julie Flygare

Thank you, Sleep Junkies and Jeff Mann for inviting me to share my experience and Project Sleep’s efforts to build a brighter future. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Jeff over the past year, he published this neat article about my efforts last year. 

from Julie Flygare http://julieflygare.com/listen-now-social-experience-of-narcolepsy-on-sleep-junkies-podcast/…

New and Upcoming Treatments for Narcolepsy 2019! Part II Update from World Sleep

Did you know the FDA has approved 27 novel drugs so far in 2019, and two of those are for narcolepsy?! How amazing is that?! The diversification of treatment approaches and new therapies under development and gaining FDA-approval for narcolepsy in the U.S. is SO EXCITING! In this post, I will provide an update on the narcolepsy drug development space and report back highlights from World Sleep 2019. This is Part II, Part I on hypocretin/orexin agonists is here.

Recent FDA Approvals:

Solriamfetol/Sunosi

  • Background: Solriamfetol (trade name Sunosi) is a wake-promoting agent, a dual-action dopamine and nonrepinephrine reuptake inhibitor to treat excessive daytime sleepiness in people with narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. Clinical and preclinical data suggested that the wake-promoting effects of solriamfetol differ from medications such as modafinil and amphetamine.
  • Research Findings: Approval of Sunosi was based on data from clinical trials including:
    • One study evaluating excessive sleepiness in adult patients with narcolepsy (TONES 2)
    • Two studies evaluating excessive sleepiness in adult patients with OSA (TONES 3 and TONES 4),
    • An open-label long term safety and maintenance of efficacy for the treatment of excessive sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy or OSA (TONES 5).
  • FDA APPROVAL & Available Now: On March 20, 2019, Jazz Pharmaceuticals announced here that the FDA approved solriamfetol/Sunosi for the treatment of excessive sleepiness in adults with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea. As of July 2019, Sunosi is now commercially available for healthcare professionals and patients in the U.S. 

Pitolisant/Wakix

  • Background: Pitolisant is a histamine H3 receptor inverse agonist that activates histamine neurons, which is an exciting advancement because pitolisant works via a different mechanism of action than any other treatment options currently available for narcolepsy. This article offers some neat ideas about how the treatment may work. 
  • Pitolisant has been on the market in Europe since 2016 when approved by the European Medicines Agency. In Europe, pitolisant is known by its trade name “Wakix”. In October 2017, Harmony Biosciences, LLC acquired the rights to develop, register and market the drug in the United States.
  • Research Findings:
    • Phase 3 study results focused on

Orexin/Hypocretin Agonists are Coming! Part I: Reporting Back from World Sleep 2019

Room 116: A Glimpse of the Future

It was a basic, boring conference room, but there was nothing basic or boring about Room 116 at the Vancouver Convention Center on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. As the final session of the final of five days of the World Sleep Congress including World Narcolepsy Day, I felt wobbly and cataplectic, but I couldn’t go home, not yet.

At exactly 4:30 p.m., I eagerly stepped into Room 116 to join narcolepsy experts, drug developers and other patient advocates for a look into the future. 

This final session, simply titled “Narcolepsy” – included researchers sharing important new results related to novel and upcoming narcolepsy therapies. In July 2018, I reported here on the unprecedented amount of drug development underway for narcolepsy. Since then, the FDA has made three important approvals and more drug development continues on, full-steam ahead!

So it’s time for an update. Part I will catch you up to speed on orexin/hypocretin agonists, and Part II will share many more exciting developments. 

Dr. Todd Swick shares his excitement for new drugs to treat narcolepsy:

Watch this video on YouTube.

Advancing Orexin-Related Therapies

Since 1999, we’ve known that type 1 narcolepsy with cataplexy is caused by a selective loss of neurons producing the neuropeptide orexin (or hypocretin), which plays a central role in maintaining wakefulness. However, finding compounds able to cross the blood-brain barrier and mimic the function of orexin has been scientifically challenging. Over the past 20 years, a few approaches have been explored, but promising research started coming out of Japan a few years ago with Takeda Pharmaceuticals. 

So when Dr. Rebecca Evans took the stage in Room 116 to present Takeda’s first-in-human clinical trial findings for the orexin 2 receptor selective agonist, TAK-925, the excitement was palpable. I felt honored to be in the room as these outcomes were shared publicly for the first time here. 

TAK-925

  • Background: In 2017, a patent for orexin 2 receptor selective agonists, including the clinical candidate TAK-925 was claimed. In April 2018, the orexin 2 receptor-selective agonist, TAK-925, was

Taking a “Sick Day” with Narcolepsy

When working in traditional offices, I struggled with “sick days.”

I didn’t often get colds or flus. I just dealt with my narcolepsy with cataplexy, which was fairly stable and “well-managed” by the time I took these jobs.

Yet narcolepsy was still with me every day, to varying degrees — from minor annoyance to extreme discomfort — sprinkled over moments, minutes or hours.

I rarely felt fully “healthy” OR fully “sick” — like bed-ridden, throwing up, or contagious — things deemed worthy of sick days. My more invisible and consistent adversity was hard to measure, hard to explain to a supervisor & hard to decide for myself when to say “Nope, not today.”

I eventually got better at this though and realized I didn’t need to explain myself. I could say “I’m not feeling well enough to work today,” and walk away to do some self-care. (Read here about getting a nap space.)

For the past 1.5 years, I’ve had my dream job working for Project Sleep. Now, I make my own schedule, work at my own pace and do NOT commute three hours a day across Los Angeles.

Interestingly, now that my work is my passion, taking a day off means putting off something I feel strongly about, or delaying something where I feel my “timeliness” reflects upon my leadership skills or my nonprofit’s consistency.

However, by the end of World Sleep, I was zombie-esque and feeling down. Which I realize sounds odd because I had TONS to be happy about after a successful inaugural World Narcolepsy DayWorld Sleep Congress 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. However, I was so depleted & indifferent on my route home on Thursday, I recognized that I needed another full day off.

Yesterday, I unpacked and made a big batch of minestrone soup. I bought three kinds of ice cream and four bunches of flowers and eucalyptus to fill my apartment. I watched YouTube aimlessly, walked lots and lay with my legs up the wall to bring down inflammation in my ankles.

Last night, I started doing my work in my …

It’s Almost World Narcolepsy Day, Are You Ready?

The week leading up to World Narcolepsy Day has quickly become one of the most surreal weeks of my life! Seeing posts, articles, videos and radio segments from around the globe honoring World Narcolepsy Day, wow!

World Narcolepsy Day Activities:

I will travel to Vancouver, Canada tomorrow to celebrate World Narcolepsy Day at World Sleep 2019, an international congress on sleep medicine. Join myself and Project Sleep virtually or in-person, here are some opportunities:

World Narcolepsy Day Pronouncement:

Tune in on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 at 12:00 noon ET for the World Narcolepsy Day Pronouncement – broadcasting via Facebook Live. Narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia experts and community leaders gathered at World Sleep 2019 will discuss the importance of World Narcolepsy Day, raising awareness and advancing research to improve outcomes for people with narcolepsy and IH around the world.

To watch the live broadcast, simply go to Project Sleep’s Facebook page on Sunday 9/22 at 12noon ET and as soon as we “go live,” the video should show up in our newsfeed!

World Narcolepsy Day #NChat on Twitter

#Nchat is a monthly Twitter conversation that connects people with narcolepsy worldwide. Join in this special #WorldNarcolepsyDay #Nchat on Sunday, Sept. 22nd at 5:00 p.m. ET!

If you’re in the Vancouver area or attending World Sleep 2019, join us in-person for these opportunities:

  • World Narcolepsy Day “Selfie-Station” on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. PT in the Public Foyer, Vancouver Convention Center
  • Julie Flygare’s Author Table on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 from 12:15 – 12:45 p.m. PT in the Public Foyer, Vancouver Convention Center
  • Inaugural World Narcolepsy Day Forum on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. PT in Room 109, Vancouver Convention Center
    • Speakers: Matt O’Neill, Narcolepsy UK, Julie Flygare, JD, Project Sleep, Claire Crisp, Wake Up Narcolepsy, Eveline Honig, MD, Narcolepsy Network, Rebecca King, Hypersomnia Foundation, Mark Patterson, MD, Day4Naps
    • Session description: To mark the inaugural World Narcolepsy Day, Sept 22, 2019, leaders of narcolepsy non-profit patient organizations will share programmatic highlights, best practices and key insights from the front lines. Clinicians, researchers and patient community members will learn about

Living One-Third of My Life with Narcolepsy

Twelve years ago today, I was diagnosed with a classic case of type 1 narcolepsy with cataplexy, just four days after my 24th birthday. So as of today, four days after my 36th birthday, I’ve now spent one-third of my life officially as a “person with narcolepsy” (not counting the years of symptoms before diagnosis).

For fun today, I searched my emails from that fateful day, Sept 18, 2007, and interestingly, I didn’t mention “narcolepsy” once via email that day, but I did send a lot of writing samples and cover letters for law firm job interviews… Interviews for fancy jobs I would never secure, and visions of “success” I would never realize.

“Futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.” ~Veronica Shoffstall, After A While

It took a while for me to realize I wasn’t going to “get better and go back to my life as planned” after starting treatment. The emails to my dad proclaiming: “I HATE narcolepsy” started a few months later. For me, the hell of the next several years was a lifetime low.

“Innovation doesn’t happen because there’s some person who’s in some great circumstance and everything is going well and they get on a roll and they make something for the world. Innovation happens—art happens—because of suffering.” ~Claire Wineland, Klick MUSE New York

So here I stand, just four days away from the inaugural World Narcolepsy Day on Sept. 22, 2019. This week, I’m seeing posts from Japan, Australia, Brazil, Myanmar, Argentina, Spain, Finland, the UK, Ireland, and Israel. It’s totally surreal.

This is one of those moments that have made the past one-third of my life the richest years, with lessons learned about pushing beyond my comfort zone, letting go of other people’s expectations, standing up for what i believe in even when its not popular, and finding the courage to build my dream organization Project Sleep to align with like-minded people who want to disrupt the status quo and innovate for a brighter future.

No matter where you are, I want you to know that it is temporary and will not last forever. It’s …