Overton man painted his ceiling in his sleep

Basingstoke Gazette: Steve Chapman at home in Overton Steve Chapman at home in Overton

HE ONCE painted his ceiling in his sleep – and now Steve Chapman is speaking up in the hope of raising awareness of the extremely rare condition that he has been living with for the last 33 years.

Steve, 57, suffers from Kleine-Levin Syndrome, a disorder which makes sufferers fall into a deep sleep for days, weeks and even months on end.

Steve, of Kerchers Field, Overton, spent years without a diagnosis – and now he hopes to raise awareness of the unusual condition to help other sufferers.

Steve first began to have attacks in 1980 and would find himself suffering from a feeling of “blackness” for two days before falling asleep for 60 hours at a time. Like many other sufferers, he was ‘active’ during episodes, but would have no memory of his actions afterwards.

He said: “The blackness is hard to describe. It’s similar to the feeling that you get immediately before you faint. When I had an attack, I wasn’t able to drive or go to work. I couldn’t really do anything.”

He said: “It was very distressing for my wife Doreen. She once came home and found a ladder in the lounge – I had been painting the ceiling but couldn’t remember anything.

“I would even cook myself things to eat. After one episode, my wife found the wrappers from dozens of chocolate bars strewn across the room.”

Steve said his two sons, who are now both grown-up, also found it hard dealing with his illness. He was misdiagnosed and accused of faking his symptoms for several years before finally being diagnosed with Kleine-Levin Syndrome at Kings College, London by a specialist in 1999.

The condition, often referred to as ‘Sleeping Beauty’ syndrome, affects only one or two people in every million.

Steve said that receiving the diagnosis was a “huge relief”, and he now manages the condition with medication. His last attack was more than four years ago. The diagnosis also meant he was able to keep his job as a machine assistant at De La Rue.

Steve, who has now pledged to raise awareness of the condition, said: “The diagnosis made a huge difference to me but even now, it can take people years to get answers.”

Steve has posted leaflets about the condition to all local doctors’ surgeries, and last year attended a conference organised by KLS Support UK in Manchester.

Adele Clarke, one of the founding members of KLS Support UK, said it is vital to get the message out there.

She said: “So many people go undiagnosed because of a lack of awareness of the condition. KLS is a strange condition which is very hard for sufferers to live with and the more awareness there is, the better.”

For more information, visit kls-support.org.uk.

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