Last night I fell asleep with no problems. Ease; letting go the intense mind crunch & instead surrendering into that blissful non-thoughts phantastic we all have at the edge of asleep. Hypnagogic consciousness, it’s called, the falling asleep mind still churning. But that’s not where our story begins.
Episodes of sleep paralysis are made up of a feeling of being paralyzed upon waking or falling asleep. In other words, the mind is awake while the body is not. It can be accompanied by hallucinations & occurs primarily in sufferers of narcolepsy & sleep apnea; though it is common enough in healthy people too.
Where do I fit into this? It happens that I have had my run in with the hideous monster that is sleep paralysis many a’time. It started in high school. I didn’t know what was happening to me, only that I was waking up in a body that was not reacting to my commands. //I’d thought this was it, I’m dying. I’d thought oh my god, is this life now?
My ultimate fear: paralysis. ,,Struggling to move, mustering up muscles that seemed exhausted, & which exhausted me to squeeze them, gather the courage & strength, & holding it, holding,.. & finally
I’d wake up gasping. Alone & terrified. What had happened? I did my research & came back with the term sleep paralysis. I sat in my dark childhood bedroom, monkey faces on my pj bottoms, face lit by the chunky computer monitor’s light, & thought: What else could go wrong? What else could happen?
In the years to follow I would be finding myself in a state of sleep paralysis nearly every night on & off months at a time: The self-mind chaotically thrashing about while the imagination, in such proximity of the dreaming-self, explodes in hallucinations of any or all types. Tactile, auditory, visual (for those times I could pry my eyes open. A mistake.)
Okay, but to fast forward: The night before last I had a particularly bad series of sleep paralysis episodes. ,,I fell asleep my usual 8:45 (don’t judge me) with no trouble, as usual. I have, actually, a very healthy sleep schedule. In the last year I’ve settled into the very old person routine of passing out around 8:30/9ish, & waking up around 7a. Work or no work. That night, I’d thought as I settled into the boyf’s comfy bed, would be no different.
I woke around 11p.
Sky rocketed into my body, the thing vibrating in vertigo as I felt myself sliding, or being pulled, away from the boyf & instead into their Bad Place. I screamed, but only in my mind. I tore at the air, feeling them coming closer, clawing, trying to protect the parts of me I could feel being uncovered by the very real blanket shared between us. It was no use. //I retched, but only in my mind. I felt like spinning sick & dizzy. I felt like my soul was exposed & for the taking.
Later, the boyf would tell me (we were holding hands) that I was digging my nails into him. I’d nearly gasped when he told me, dramatic. Slowly I’d thought, “I was trying to. Oh my god, I thought I was hallucinating the sensation…..” I’d thought, “What’s real?”
I woke up about a million times that night, only to fall right back into the horrible sensation & paralyzed body; the incubus smothering me, touching me. I finally settled around midnight, falling into a deep sleep with vivid, terrible dreams.
So hey, you read me up to this far & might be wondering what the point of this piece is, right? Well,, , ,,I woke up to real-life vertigo, had to go to urgent care to get checked out & have a sneaking suspicion about narcolepsy. Moral of the story: If you suffer from sleep paralysis, your best bet is to relax your body & mind into it. If you struggle, anxiety will bring out the demons. Think good vibes, & you’ll escape unscathed. Also make an appointment with the sleep doctor. I just did.