It's 8:20 AM and Melissa McCarthy is on her second cup of caffeinated coffee after an uninterrupted seven hours of sleep. So, why is she yawning?
Melissa is among many who struggle everyday with Chronic Yawning Syndrome (CYS), an illness that causes sporadic and frequent yawning spells.
"It all started in middle school with one of the most boring teacher's I've ever had." Melissa said in a statement earlier last week. "It was dreadful. She would open her mouth to teach, and I'd open mine to yawn."
Sixteen years later, Melissa is now a college student at Viterbo University where she studies Biopsychology. I was fortunate enough to sit down with her for an interview so she could shed light on this debilitating illness:
SYS: Have your studies in Biopsychology provided you with any insight as to what causes this?
MM: Well, I'm a senior this year and studying really isn't my thing. In fact, when I do study, the CYS kicks into high gear, so I actually try to avoid it.
SYS: So, studying is a trigger for this?
SYS: What other triggers have you found?
MM: Long lectures, dull Power Points, textbooks, work meetings... there's just too many to name.
SYS: Is there any treatment for CYS?
MM: Facebook. Avoiding the situations, for instance - skipping class.
SYS: Now, you admit to being a caffeine addict. How does this impact your CYS?
MM: Oh, man. When I haven't had my coffee or diet Coke, watch out. Especially if I haven't brushed my teeth.
SYS: How much caffeine do you consume in a typical day?
MM: Well, let's just say that if there were a legal limit and you couldn't drive beyond that point, I'd have my license taken away for life.
SYS: What advice do you give to others suffering from CYS?
MM: Don't join the support groups. You'll just yawn because it's highly contagious.
SYS: There are support groups?
MM: No. I'm also a compulsive liar.
MM: No. That was a lie.
SYS: That you're a compulsive liar, or that there are not support groups?
SYS: So there are support groups for Chronic Yawning Syndrome?
MM: I'm the first one to have CYS, so I am my own support group.
We'll continue checking in on Melissa throughout the school year to see how she is (or is not) progressing.