Narcolepsy is uncommon and misunderstood. Most people know what Cystic Fibrosis is even though CF is less common than narcolepsy. Most people understand how debilitating Multiple Sclerosis is yet most people don't understand that Narcolepsy is just as debilitating as MS and just as common. The general public values narcolepsy more as a punch line than as a real and rare disease. Inaccurate fictional comedic depictions of narcolepsy in the media have led most people to mistakenly believe that narcoleptics are people who suddenly fall asleep mid-sentence while remaining standing and then awaken suddenly and are clueless as to what just happened. Newly diagnosed adult narcoleptics often find their struggles are more likely to be viewed as anxious plagiarisms of "real" biological disorders than to be viewed as challenging problems caused by a serious chronic disease.
People rely on subtle social cues to understand how to behave in certain situations, or they know how to listen between the lines of what others are saying in order to catch their drift. This requires an ability to pay attention and to maintain a certain presence of mind in all situations. You have to be alert and aware of what is going on around you. Walking around through life in a sleepy haze, narcoleptics don't have this attentiveness. Often, narcoleptics are described as "clueless". They miss these social cues and accordingly behave in what appears to others to be an odd manner. They miss things that are intimated in what others say and respond inappropriately. Appearing sleepy or "zoned out", they are often dismissed as being stupid or on drugs or drunk.