A mum-of-three can’t play with her children because laughing could cause her to collapse. Yvette Kidd has cataplexy, a rare but serious illness which means she can collapse when she laughs or experiences extreme emotions
The 38-year-old owner of a plus-size clothing business also has narcolepsy, a long-term brain disorder for which there is no cure, which causes excessive fatigue.
But until she was 36, doctors struggled to tell Yvette, who is married to landscape gardener Andrew, 38, why she was so sleepy she would often resort to napping in toilet cubicles at work.
Yvette was diagnosed with combined cataplexy and narcolepsy in June 2015 after doctors at Wythenshawe Hospital near Manchester carried out sleep tests which examined how sleep cycles worked in her brain.
Yvette, who has three children – Jamie, 16, Macy, 10, and Charlie, seven, said her sy She told the Manchester Evening News : “A teacher pulled me to one side and asked me if I had been up late. I had been sleeping through class, but hadn’t even noticed.
“Soon, I was sleeping on my way to school, coming home and through classes. The minute I sat down, I would be asleep.
“It became the norm and my teachers didn’t even really question it. If I felt myself falling asleep in class, I would go to the toilet and put the seat down and have a sleep there. I just couldn’t stay awake.”
Doctors at the time attributed her sleepiness to puberty and being “a bit anaemic”.
symptoms first emerged when she was at secondary school in Wigan, Lancashire.
By age 16 Yvette tipped the scales at 13 stone, leading people to believe she was just lazy and doctors to attribute her sleep problems to her weight.
“But it was the other way round,” Yvette said.
“My weight gain was because of my sleep. I suspected it was narcolepsy but it was very difficult to explain it to doctors. As it got worse, I put more weight on.”
Despite her problems, Yvette managed to leave school with five GCSEs and completed a course in fashion and design at Wigan and Leigh college, before setting up her own plus-size clothing business.
She added: “I am self-employed, because I don’t think anyone would employ me. Sometimes I’ve had to shut the shop just to have a little nap.”
She has since gained a newfound confidence, and has set up a group, Positively Perfect , and aspires to become a beauty queen.
So far, she has made it to the finals of two pageants – Miss Voluptuous UK and Miss British Beauty Curve, both of which are set to take place later this year. But she is nervous she will have an attack on stage.
Yvette is honest about the realities of living with cataplexy and narcolepsy, the causes of which are not confirmed, but are likely to be linked to a lack of the sleep chemical hypocretin.
She said: I still have no independence whatsoever. I can’t drive and I’m not allowed to cook because I’ve nearly burned the house down so many times. I’ve burnt things quite badly and have set the smoke alarm so many times – there have been a few close calls.