Iris Vasconcelos: National Poetry Month Part 6

April is National Poetry Month! Project Sleep is proud to highlight poets and poetry from our community throughout the month of April. Curated by Ana Lara.

Meet the Poet:

Iris Vasconcelos, 31 years old, is Angolan/Portuguese and currently living in Portugal, and looking forward to moving back to Luanda, Angola (located in Southern Africa). She works full time as a Marketing Manager and is a freelance writer and blogger. 

Iris struggled with symptoms for 15 years before finally being diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy, at the age of 28. Since the age of 7, writing has been her passion and refuge. She hopes to one day dedicate herself to her two passions, writing and advocating for people living with narcolepsy in developing countries. She is now a trained speaker and writer with Project Sleep’s Rising Voices of Narcolepsy program.

The Pretty Ugly Truth

The pretty ugly truth is
I hate what it does to me
Every second captive to this intangible invisibility
Deceptively fooling all that pass by
With my unalterable, decorated smile on my face
The girl from this morning leaves no trace

The pretty ugly truth is
I hate that I owe it so much
For it is all that I am, and all that I touch
It’s becoming harder to separate
The ‘me’ that I have become from the one I always wished I could be
Because I can no longer deny this feeling of sheer voracity

The pretty ugly truth is
Though it brings forth the shadow man that mercilessly haunts my dark
It is equally undeniable that within me, it reignited an almost extinguished spark
So in this ironic twist of life
The pieces, I conceded, did not fit any more
Have instead made room for a purpose I did not have before
And though I reside in a body that fights me every minute of every day
Surrender I will not
For all it took away, there is an entire world it too brought,

Because the pretty ugly truth is
Though I may be but a ghost of the life you did not allow me to live
It’s you I begrudgingly must thank
For all that I now have to give

For this story, I share in hopes of empowering you to do the same
So that life may once again be yours to reclaim.

Thank you, Iris for sharing your poetry. Hear Iris’ narcolepsy story in her own words via her Rising Voices of Narcolepsy Story Sharing Session. Connect with Iris on Instagram via @lifeinflashesblogger. Stay tuned – more poems from this incredibly creative community coming soon!

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Ernie Knight
    April 25, 2021 2:15 pm

    Hi Iris! I sometimes wonder if those of us who have had this since an early age might have somehow benefited from knowing NO other life. I’ve had symptoms since 6, not diagnosed until age 42. Life as a child with Narcolepsy was terribly difficult, but I wonder if perhaps it gave me gave me the strength that might have been denied those who developed it later in life. I think about people like Julie Flygare (who had a nice life and then got blindsided by this in her twenties), and wonder how they managed to get their lives back. Your words are powerful! My best to you always,


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