Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bane of my existence

I have a problem and ironically enough it could even be termed a conundrum.

This is the conundrum: I like to sleep, in fact I need it. The problem is that I have a condition that doesn't let me sleep peacefully like I want.

The condition is called "sleep paralysis" but I prefer to call it the bane of my existence.

Sleep paralysis can happen at the onset of falling asleep (predormital paralysis) or upon waking up (postdormital paralysis). In both cases it is a time when the body has fallen asleep, or stays asleep, but the mind is conscious. Essentially, during sleep paralysis a person is conscious and often able to see, but is unable to move or speak. It's not very much fun to not be able to move, but to add to this already terrible situation, the paralysis is often accompanied by hallucinations. Unfortunately, these hallucinations aren't fun or exciting like gummy bears bouncing off the walls, or giant cookies dipping themselves in milk. Rather, the hallucinations are always hallucinations of imminent attack and death. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to find your body paralyzed and then you see a man walking into your room with the intention of killing you. Or imagine a shapeless form of darkness entering your room and stopping at your bedside while it decides how to take your life. Or even imagine laying on your side and "feeling" the weight of someone on your back and a pillow being forced in your face as they try to smother you to death. I can't quite describe the feeling of death, I guess it's like a pit in or tightening of your stomach that makes you sick...essentially, the feeling of imminent death is frightening and sickening.

This has happened to me anywhere from once a week to once every other month since I was 17. For a long time these experiences had a drastic impact on my life and my ability to sleep. In fact, the first time it occurred I thought it must have been the devil trying to posses me and I struggled to sleep every night for a week. I didn't dare tell anyone about my experiences for over a year, and after a few years of these experiences I finally learned that the devil wasn't trying to control me and that I wasn't crazy, but rather that I had a condition that plagues almost 3 out of every 10 people in the US. So I write about this to let everyone know that if you have had or do have a similar experience that it isn't a serious condition, and it most definitely isn't the devil trying to steal your soul. That doesn't really make the experiences any easier to deal with while they are occurring, but it sure helps you to be able to go back to sleep.

...sweet dreams ya'll.