Meet the real-life sleeping beauty who spends 20 hours a day asleep.
Emily Rowland suffers from severe epilepsy, which causes her to have “staring spells” when she falls into a deep sleep for days on end.
The teen was forced to give up her passion for competing in beauty pageants and has not gone to school for the last two and a half years because of her condition.
Emily has been hospitalized hundreds of times and has not slept alone for the last eight years as her family worries she might die in her sleep.
Her mom, Brandi, is now her full-time caregiver and said it is “difficult to put into words” how scary living with the condition is for her daughter.
The 16-year-old, who lives with her family in Georgia, began complaining of headaches from a very young age.
She was diagnosed with epilepsy almost eight years ago, but she has now developed a form of dementia as a result of the constant seizing.
Brandi, 42, said the condition has meant Emily lost friends as she cannot go out like a normal teenager.
But she did get to go to prom with her boyfriend IV Hickam, 17.
Emily said: “It makes everyday activities so hard. Just trying to get makeup on is tricky – things that other teenage girls do every day with ease.
“My mom has to do it because I can’t stay awake to. I don’t have the coordination to do it due to the seizing either.
“The condition also makes getting dressed difficult. There is video of me literally falling asleep standing up trying to get ready in the morning.
“It happens in restaurants when I am out with my boyfriend or family. It happened at school.
“My mom has footage of me holding my school books as I struggled to stay awake heading out to class.”
Emily said the hardest part is watching her future plans slip away.
“The fact that my whole life, every aspect of it, has been disrupted and my ability to go to school and learn and be an active teenager has been taken away is most upsetting,” she added.
“The hardest part is watching the life I had planned slip away.
“But I will never give up.”
Emily has gone from being a high achiever to being unable to stay awake during school.
She started showing signs at a young age, Brandi said, but it took years to get a final diagnosis.
“When Emily was younger she started to complain of really bad headaches,” Brandi said.
“She started to get really sleepy. Emily had always suffered on road trips but we thought it was normal car sickness.
“It was only with hindsight that we now recognize that these things were all connected.
“Emily began missing more school. Some days we just could not wake her.
“It is hard to put into words how scary it is.
“She misses out on activities because she is ‘asleep’ normally more than 20 hours a day.
“She can sleep for days and will need to be put onto a drip as she is not getting the food and water she needs.
“When she is awake, she puts her best foot forward despite how sick she is and always puts others before herself.”
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