Tuesday, March 19, 2013
To sleep, perchance to dream...
I'm afraid to sleep.
There's an interesting phenomenon we call 'Sleep Paralysis'. Some people call it lucid dreaming. Basically we go through several cycles as we sleep, from deep sleep to lighter sleep and back again, several times. REM is the deep sleep, and we do most of our dreaming then. To keep us from flailing around and acting out our dreams, our bodies put us into an atonia, or paralysis. The problem is that sometimes the REM and the semi-wakefulness get out of sync, and we're semi-awake but paralyzed.
People going through this report things such as hearing noises in the house or in the room, an intense feeling that someone is in the room, usually a malevolent presence. Often they can feel someone touch them or climb on the bed, and it is VERY common to feel that the being is choking or smothering them. Attempts to cry out or defend themselves are futile. The terror is unlike anything else. And this phenomenon is known in nearly every culture around the world. Sometimes it is known as 'The Hag' and often the malevolent beings have names. Sometimes they are vaguely human/demonic, sometimes animals or other creature such as aliens. Sometimes they appear to be ghosts, reanimated dead, vampires, succubi or incubi, or demonic religious beings. Often they are hooded.
Frequently the victims are aware that they are not quite awake but are dreaming- but the being is still there, and the threat and terror are still present. Thinking 'This will end if I can just wake up' leads to increased struggles to move or shout, and sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn't.
I've had the episodes off and on as long as I can remember. Things would come out of my closet and climb on the bed. I would try to scream but couldn't. Vampires were frequent visitors. As I got into adolescence and deeper into the pentecostal religious frame, the beings were demons of various forms. The most memorable episode (until of late) happened when I was staying over in Sutherlin, with James. I was in that partially awake state when I hear something come into the room. James was asleep but I couldn't move to wake him. A hooded figure appeared at the end of the bed, and it leaned over, and with long, bony hands, it grabbed my feet and dug its thumbs into my soles. I woke abruptly, screamed, and tunneled my way under James (who was very confused).
I looked at my feet in the morning, and couldn't see any marks, but they still hurt incredibly.
(Odd things is, a couple of years later I saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and when the Dementor first appeared I was so shocked I couldn't move, there in my theater seat. It was the being that had grabbed my feet. I could swear to it.)
So, what is this all about? Well, I've been having these episodes again. A LOT. Like, several times a week. Sometimes I'll get into a series, where I'll have the dream, manage to wake myself up, but as soon as I drift off again it happens again. And again. And again. I end up sitting up in bed, heart racing, terrified to go back to sleep. One night last week the being crawled up on my bed and over me, and held me down by the wrists. At first I thought I was going to be raped, and then suddenly I thought "No, I'm going to die." The thing put the sheet over my face and tried to smother me. Fighting for my life, I finally moved enough to wake myself. Terrifying thing was that the sheet was over my face. And I never sleep with the covers over my face- because I can't breathe.
Needless to say, I'm not getting much sleep. I'm sleeping at weird times, sometimes not able to sleep at night, but ok with napping. It's wearing on me, making the fibromyalgia worse, making me feel thin-skinned and sharp, making it difficult to deal with stress or conflict.
Yes, I have an appointment with the doctor. And I know what they'll say first "Maybe we need to adjust your meds." Drugs. Always with the drugs. They'll talk about sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques. They'll make suggestions about sleep position, etc. And it will make me want to yell. I'm doing all these things (except adjusting meds) already, and they haven't helped. Don't you think I haven't tried to fix this without going to the doctor?
So that's what I'm dealing with these days. I go to sleep and meet Mr Hoodie and I try to wake myself up because he'll kill me if I don't. And I'm not interested in dying right now.