Sleep Paralysis

"The Nightmare" by Henry Fuseli

"The Nightmare" by Henry Fuseli

I’m currently writing a piece on sleep paralysis after some inspiration from a really vivid episode. Here is an excerpt from the rough draft describing it. It’s a pretty wild experience:

The last episode began when I noticed a disturbing shadow sneak into my bedroom just out of the corner of my eye. Undeterred, I ignore it, wondering if it will roar and cackle at me ominously like the last few times. I cannot move. My hands and face tingle uncomfortably, just on the threshold of pain. I decide to try and experiment. I force my arms to reach over to the pair of glasses next to me. I place them on my face. The room remains unfocused and blurry. I twirl them in my hands and snap them in half. I can feel the tension right before the break and feel the satisfying release. I twist the plastic in my hands, snapping the halves in half once more. Hallucination, I conclude. There’s no way I could have broken my glasses so easily. I tell my arms to throw the pieces behind me. I hear the sound of them hitting the floor next to my right ear.

Wait, did I actually break them? I panic. I squeeze my eyes shut and nonsense words like propilphany flash in the darkness, made out of bright, thin electric currents. I’m starting to feel the rising disoriented hysteria that always accompanies an episode. Maybe propilphany is the magic word that will snap me out of this, I think. I try to yell it out loud, but, of course, I cannot talk. I notice that the room is growing very dark; was it always this dark in my room? And then, the buzzing begins, again next to my right ear, as if a fly decided to do the samba by my face. This will drive me insane; I can already feel the nerves in my back tense up into a painful bundle. I enter a full-blown panic attack; I can’t breathe.

After a brief moment of sheer horror, graciously, the episode slowly releases its grip. My vision clears. My body wakes up and I can breathe again. My hands rest on my stomach, balled up in fists, still tingling furiously. My glasses remain unbroken next to my head. The buzzing disappears. The shadow is gone. It’s over.

For the longest time, I felt that for some reason, Satan was out to get me. Imagine my surprise when I discover that I actually suffer from a medical condition with a clinical name and diagnosis! Still, despite this new knowledge, my life with sleep paralysis, from childhood to adulthood, has colored and affected me in some very dramatic ways. If you or anyone you know has any experience with sleep paralysis, please contact me at tylee85[at]gmail[dot]com. I’d love to hear your (or your friend’s) stories.

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1 Comment

Filed under life stories, wordsmithing

One response to “Sleep Paralysis

  1. You do a good job of capturing the experience of a sleep paralysis dream. The dread, the partial acceptance of the fact that you are dreaming, but then the sudden doubt that you are not. I also relate to the par where you test your strength to see if you are dreaming. I do that too. In my dreams, I’ll move my arm or leg around and if it starts behaving unnaturally, I know in the dream that I am dreaming.

    I wrote about one particularly intense sleep paralysis experience in my blog: http://quitstalling.blogspot.com/2008/08/lion-dream.html. Most of them are not nearly that exciting. I remember one where I thought electricity was pouring from my fingers. The power of the current was so forceful that I couldn’t move in my bed, frozen as I watched electricity pour into the room. When I woke up, the clock on my bed stand was blinking; the power had gone out. For several intense moments I wondered if my dream had actually happened, if I had had some unconscious effect of the power. I found out from Jill that there had been a lightning storm, which is was tripped the power.

    I’ve thought of writing them all down, but I never did. I usually don’t have trouble remembering them. They fascinate me too, so I like reading about other people’s experiences. Online research has shown that some (if not all) people who claim alien abduction are really just suffering from sleep paralysis.

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