The Adventures of Sleep Paralysis: Part 2

I had a dream you and I were sitting at the table. The angle didn’t make sense from where we usually sat, I realized there was no floor and we were floating.

You were telling me how you gave a compliment to someone and they reacted negatively. Almost hostile. I wasn’t understanding exactly what happened so you turned your head to me and explained. Your eyes changed, but then I realized we were only lit by a candle and the rest of the room was pitch black. I couldn’t see the candle.

I heard a tapping noise. We both just stared at each other. I thought it would be funny to ask what that noise was, all spooky-like as a prank to make you laugh. I leaned back to listen and then, well, I guess I became possessed by a demon, or attacked by one, or both. It all sounds cliche now that I write it out. I pitched backwards violently and you became a blur, my body was twisted like something grabbed my neck and turned me sideways. I was holding on to the chair so I wouldn’t fall into the void, or being forced to hold on, it was hard to tell. You giggled, you ironically thought this was the prank. I was pitched forward fast, my head slammed on the table and was pinned down by a force, I could feel claws in my head but they didn’t hurt, just a lot of pressure. I couldn’t move. I could see you sideways then see you lean down towards the table, blurry, I couldn’t see well at this point.

And this image of you slowly materialized to you in the bed as I started to wake up. Was I hallucinating you? I thought my eyes should be closed. They are open this time, and I can’t move again. I tried to say something at this point, for the first time I tried saying “help!” but the paralysis held me silent. I think trying to say something made it worse for a bit, and I got scared. I thought my dream followed me for real this time. I tried to move my arm and it wouldn’t move. An eternity of maybe 5 seconds passed and I was out, escaping into reality. It’s amazing how many thoughts you can have when time doesn’t seem to follow the rules. I heard the tapping of who knows what, normal building noises probably. I laid there trying not to freak out, still straddling between worlds but slowly crossing over. Trying not to look around too much.

I think it was bound to happen at some point. My sleep paralysis demon has found me…and it’s kind of an asshole.

The Adventures of Sleep Paralysis with OCD

About 3 years ago I was taking an afternoon nap. I woke up staring at my Periodic Table of Elements poster, and quickly realized I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even sweep my eyes back and forth. This moment probably lasted a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity. It felt suffocating. I eventually gasped myself officially awake and thought to myself, “fuck”.

Before that, I was wondering why I was having dreams that I couldn’t breathe. I was actually waking up gasping for breath, unaware of my paralysis. The funny thing about sleep paralysis is that you are breathing, but the pressure on your chest makes it feel like you’re not.

It happened about once a month. Waking up gasping.

Currently, it happens almost every night. Taking a nap guarantees an episode.

I tried a lot of things to help this, lifestyle changes, sleep aides, etc. I did more research and saw one of the causes: anxiety.

Anxiety’s favorite time to show its face is at night, when I’m falling asleep. There’s nothing to listen to but my own loud thoughts.

I’ve always had issues with REM sleep. When I was a kid, after the symptoms for OCD were showing, I was very active at sleep talking and walking. I would hold conversations in my sleep, make decisions if asked a question, and argue. I ran across the house in my sleep once, and dramatically threw open a bedroom door. According to freaked out friends, I’ve jumped off the top of a bunk bed with a superhero landing Deadpool would be proud of. Occasionally, I would set a booby trap to catch myself so I didn’t wander outside the bedroom. Currently, it’s rare for me to sleep walk and I’ve apparently traded it for sleep paralysis.

With OCD along for the ride, this is where being high O really sucks. My hallucinations during sleep paralysis are often focused on my obsessions. It’s like watching them in real time.

I wake up in REM to my apartment empty. I snap awake to see my furniture again.

I hallucinate the sound of my door opening, I rip myself out of paralysis and door check. 

I hallucinate a shadowy figure in my doorway and freak out enough to come out of paralysis. I walk around and check for a hiding intruder. 

I pretty much can’t rest when I’m supposed to be resting, and when I’m awake I’m often confronting my obsessions. I usually get enough sleep but it’s interrupted and an adventure of “what will I see this time”. It feels like I cross between two realities when I sleep, and it used to be fascinating until it became annoying. And then there’s the intrusive thoughts, ready to chime in right after I realize it was all a hallucination, “you’re losing your mind”.

At the moment, I’m trying to relax as much as I can before sleep. If I can’t fall asleep easily, my brain gets filled with ideas and memories to write about. I’m often writing stuff around 1-3 AM. 

This all might involve a future trip to a sleep clinic. It’s a work in progress.