Monday, 21 November 2016

Night Terrors

Sleep paralysis has become a popular topic these past few days. I guess that's due to Kendall Jenner coming out about the fact that she experiences this quite often and the media have been fussing about it quite a bit.
Although I think many media forms like Celebuzz and magazines have been overreacting about this, I will not deny that Sleep Paralysis is the most scariest bloody thing. Ever.

Many people who have experienced sleep paralysis know the trembling fear of not being able to move. They know of lying in their own bed awake, begging to sit up or clench their fingers. They may even think that it will never end. And for some reason, even if you are accustomed to this, you feel the terrifying fear that overcomes you as if your instincts are taking over and your instincts know that this is all wrong.

Some people however, like myself, have it even worse.

My first experience with sleep paralysis was shortly before my 18th birthday. I was having a nap in the mid afternoon. It was spring, the day was warm and light shined brightly through my curtains. It was a pleasant nap, until I woke up, readjusted my lying position and went back to sleep. I then heard someone twisting my door handle and entering my bedroom. I kept my eyes closed, assuming it was my grandmother, so that she wouldn't bother my slumber. Then I heard the sound of little footsteps running along my floor boards, a small hand tickle my neck, before running back out the door and leaving a giggle that sounded to come from a small girl, behind.

I had opened my eyes as the small girl touched my neck.
It was then that I realized I could not move. I stared at my curtain, urging my limbs to wiggle but failed as the small girl giggled and ran off, closing the door behind her.
The more I tried to move, the more my brain wanted to sleep. I tried to sit up, but it took every ounce of energy I had to move even an inch that I fell into deep unconsciousness.

I woke up perhaps several minutes later. I was confused and in a daze. I got up from my bed and walked out into the kitchen where my grandmother was standing. "Who's here?" I asked her.
"No one, why?" she asked me back.
"Is Tracy (my aunty) over?" I asked again, assuming that her very young niece was here and was the one who had come into my room.
My nanna shook her head. Odd.

I told my boyfriend of this experience. He had told me before that he has experienced sleep paralysis, particularly when he was twelve years old and he was terribly sick with pneumonia. Some nights when he couldn't sleep he wouldn't be able to move, and he would see the shadow of a witch hiding behind his cupboard, slowly coming out.
But it was only then that I actually understood what he was talking about.

Perhaps this conversation, of knowing how much it could get worse from a small child tickling my neck, was what gave way to my next experiences.

For the following year I noticed a trend with these nightmares. They always seemed to occur at five in the morning, when the first light of day was entering and a blue haze was cast over my bedroom.
I am not sure why I woke up, but it is not uncommon for me to wake coming into the hours of when my alarm would go off. I opened my eyes and there, right in front of me on my bed, sat the outline of a demonic gargoyle. It was perched in a squat only inches away from me. I remember seeing it so clearly because the light outside the window was coming in and the figure was so dark compared and I could see its little horns.
I tried to scream, sit up and run away but I couldn't move and I could make no sound. After trying to squirm free and to escape, all I could do was close my eyes and hope it would go away. I could still think though and if my thoughts could have been heard they would have been terrified screams. 

After this I was convinced that this was way more than a mere nightmare. I was awake after all and saw my bedroom as clear as the light of day. I could think clearly as I would when I am up and about. And if you ask anyone who has had these experiences they will tell you that when it is occurring, it is the realest thing that you know.
I was terrified to sleep for a long time after this. I made my dog sleep with me quite often and sometimes I would not fall asleep until around two in the morning when I became so tired that I knew I would fall into deep unconscious and I would not awake until my alarm.

My worst experience of them all, and by all I mean from about 15-20 experiences so far in total, was when I felt my dog trying to jump into my bed during the early hours. I felt Millie try to curl next to my legs and I tried to adjust my position for Millie's comfort when I realized I could not move. It was then that I knew what was happening and as usual, fear erupted in every one of my cells and my heart began to pound. From my last experience I don't dare open my eyes anymore. I don't want to see what is waiting for me or what is sitting on my bed. I just try to scream, to call out to my grandparents to come and save me but I make no sound. I don't even bother trying to move free anymore. I just lie there, pretending to be asleep in the hopes that it will grow bored and leave.

What I had originally thought was my dog suddenly becomes larger. It crawls over my feet and creeps up to my face where it grabs hold of both my hands and holds me down to the bed. I can feel it breathing above me. I have never been so scared. In my mind I am praying to be rescued me from what I am sure is evil.
I am given enough strength to move my fingers, but that is all. I move my fingers, clutching on to the wrist of this thing and digging my nails into what feels like shedded snake skin. I dig my nails deep into its dry flesh and then suddenly I am out of bed, weak, but moving. I am using every single bit of my energy to open my bedroom door, run down the hallway and into my grandparents bedroom. They are asleep and I call out in a loud whisper for them to help me because that's all that I can manage. I cry for them to get up and go to my room and wake me.

I then wake up in my bed, confused. I was so sure I had been awake. I was so sure that me running into my grandparents bedroom and seeing their sleeping bodies really happened. But there I am and what I thought was me, had called out to them and asked for them to wake me. And despite that this was by far the scariest thing to ever happen to me, I realize now that it really is all a dream. A vivid one. A realistic one where the dreamworld is completely identical to the real one. But a dream nonetheless, and that helps.

I still have these experiences occasionally though not as often and not quite as scary. I did some research to have a better understanding of these dreams and it helps. They almost always occur when one is falling asleep or waking up. I have also begun to master the escape of it. I have had these so often that I can feel it coming now and I can feel my chest becoming heavy. I can feel my body slowly becoming paralyzed and I wiggle my fingers until I am completely awake again and can move.

My best advice for anyone who has this is to not open your eyes. It doesn't help. Trust me. Keep your eyes closed and think hard about something else. That's what I do now.
I don't focus on it, despite the fear that demands to be felt. I think hard about the beach and the shore and the sand and suddenly I dreaming of it and I am sound asleep.

Despite how these experiences feel, remember that they are not real; and that is coming from someone who even spoke to my mother about getting a possible exorcism; that's how sure I was that they were indeed real. They are dreams but you're mind is simply more awake than what it should be. 

Here is a renaissance painting depicting Sleep Paralyisis. I realize now that this is the gargoyle-like figure who had visited me in my dreams. I had seen this painting before from Twilight and it must have been stored in my subconscious. 

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