Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Sleeping Disorder

Sleep paralysis. It's been on my mind lately and I guess I'm using my blog as a way to get my thoughts out. I think everyone experiences sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime. I have been experiencing this since I turned 18. I hate it. After the first time it happened to me, I was afraid of sleeping for months (It was years later that I realized other people might experience the same thing and I could do research to find out more about it). If I had to sum it up in 2 words I would call it sheer terror. I will explain what I generally experience during an episode of sleep paralysis.

It's usually just before I fall asleep I feel what I would describe as a pulse through my brain, It's almost electrical and it's very rhythmic. At this point I know that I am going to have an "episode" and there is no way I can stop it. Even if I get out of bed, walk around, get a drink of water, as soon as I go back to bed, sleep paralysis will take over for the rest of the night. The whooshing through my head seems to come first and then everything else happens all at once. Every time without fail I feel like dark shadows are closing in around me. I am frozen stiff. I have the greatest sense of terror, fear and dread you could possibly imagine. I can not move a muscle and as hard as I try, I can not scream out for help. There is often pressure in my brain and my ears so intense that I fear my head is going to explode or my ear drums are going to burst. I always have auditory hallucinations. Some times it is chattering in my ear or shrill screaming or just the loudest white noise you can imagine. Sometimes I feel like someone is pulling me or lifting me off the bed. I definitely always feel like there is a presence in the room. I feel very heavy, like there is pressure all around me. I feel so vulnerable and exposed. I always feel like this dark presence is trying to take me. The worst part is suffering through this when I know Dan is within 2 inches of me and is completely oblivious to the hell I'm experiencing. No matter how hard I try to move my hand one inch to nudge him or yell out to him it is in vain. Now understand, I am wide awake while all this is happening to me. It's not a dream. Unlike a dream, you do not have the ability to "snap out of it" or tell yourself to "wake up". I just have to ride it out. It can last for a long time. When it's over and I can move around, get up, get a drink of water etc. I know that if I try to go back to bed and try to go back to sleep it will most likely happen again and again the rest of the night. It's not as bad as it used to be - it actually rarely happens these days. I've had it happen only twice in the last 3 months. It used to be several times a month. It was the worst within the first couple years I was married (from age19-21) It would happen so frequently that I could actually predict before going to bed that it would happen to me because of the way my mind and body felt. If I stayed up later than usual, it was almost guaranteed to happen. When I finally got on the Internet and researched it, I learned a few things. Such as, sleeping on your back increases your chances of experiencing sleep paralysis. I never sleep on my back now and I know that really helps. I'm thankful it's not as bad as it used to be and that I'm not afraid to sleep anymore. Although, I am weary of going to bed tonight since it happened to me just last night.

An explanation in my own words: When you dream, your brain keeps your body from moving to protect yourself from physically acting out your dreams. Sleep paralysis is basically a malfunction of this process because you are wide awake when your brain is paralyzing your body. With sleep paralysis, you are wide awake, aware of your surroundings but your body is completely paralyzed. I don't understand the feelings of terror and darkness and I don't think there really is a good explanation for it either. Most everyone that experiences sleep paralysis says that it is a terrifying experience- Some are much worse than mine as they actually see figures or demons around them- whereas I don't exactly see them, I just sense their presence. Now I don't think writing this was helpful at all - I'm just really freaked out right now. You probably are too. Sorry...Goodnight?

Do any of you experience this? And if you want to know more about it- just google it.

10 comments:

waitecamp said...

Oh Molly that's awful! I have never experienced anything like that. I'm sorry that you are going through such a horrifying experience.

I love to sleep and dream....that is seriously one of my favorite times of the day! I can't imagine being afraid to go to sleep knowing your going to possibly experience this at night.

I hope you can get some advice from others that are struggling with this. Love ya!

The Zemp Family said...

Molly that sound awful! I have an aunt who has had a couple of experiences that are very similar to what you are describing. I'll have to tell her to research the subject. Thanks for sharing. I will no longer complain about my simple frequent insomnia. Actually I probably will, but I will think twice about it. I hope it continues getting better.

Turley Tales said...

I could give you the number for my Exorcist. Just kidding, not really funny. Sounds horrible. I had a similar experience once, but it only lasted 5 min.

lynda said...

you know, when clara talked about sleep paralysis i figured that is what you had, but i always forgot to mention it to you...guess you figured it out anyway. i remember when you first started getting it, but i had no idea it was so bad, and even twice in three months seems like too much. it is too much. maybe you two will have a chance to talk about it sometime.

Ami Bethea said...

Oh my gosh Molly! I had that happen to me a couple years ago, only once but that was enough. It was exactly like you described but I was sleeping on our couch that night because i had fallen asleep, so I never sleep on our couch ever anymore. I'm sorry that happens to you so much, I still can remember that one time so vividly, it was horrific. I can't imagine it happening over & over. In your research did you find anything besides laying on your back that helps?

Sheri Packard said...

Molly! I had no idea this happens to you! You poor thing! I haven't checked any blogs in a long time, but your last few posts have been super cute! Have you tried praying during one of the episodes? Is that cheesy to say?

Kara Jones said...

Oh my goodness, yes, this happens to me. It's crazy! It happens every once in awhile, and it's true u r completely awake! When i used to share a room with my sister, and now that I'm married, I can't speak or nudge anyone to help me out of it. So sorry you've been having a spell of them, just wanted to reassure u that you're not the only one in this neighborhood experiencing this freak of nature.

Erin Nicole said...

That is horrible! I can say that i have had sleep walking, and night terrors, and parts of what you are describing are familiar. I too seemed a lot better when I was pregnant. Perhaps the presence of an angel relaxes you. Anxiety, stress, were my problems.. but yours sounds much worse! I am glad it's better...

The Silly Nilly Family said...

That is really scary! I'm really sorry you have to deal with that. I can't imagine! Good luck to you. Hope you are able to not have it happen again for a long time. Thanks for sharing, it was interesting to read. I wish I could help you.

The Millirons said...

Hey Molly, how fun that you have a blog too ! You should come by and check mine out sometime ( millironfamily.blogspot.com )

Okay this is weird. My Sister has the SAME EXACT THING happen to her. She said it scares her so bad. Sometimes she has to breathe weird for her Husband to notice so he can shake her and wake her out of it. She said she is afraid to sleep sometimes too. But shortly after she started doing it, she was diagnosed with Narcolepsy. Maybe you should check and see if you have the same thing.