I cannot move yet I am completely aware of my surroundings. I try desperately to yell for help but I cannot get the words out. My mind races to figure out what is wrong. The more I struggle to move the more I can feel the panic set in. Its not long before all I can feel is an overwhelming sense of fear pulsing through my body. The only conclusion I can reach is I am dying.
That was my very first experience with Sleep Paralysis. It was about five years ago. I tried to talk to friends about it, but they just couldn’t relate with the experience and thought it was just plain out weird. I brushed it off as a bad dream hoping that it was nothing but a one time subconscious event in my sleep.
It didn’t happen again for a long time, until one day I was feeling extremely tired. I laid down for a quick nap, as my mind trailed off into a deep slumber I entered into the dream world. Ive often had lucid dreams that are so realistic that I can feel, smell, and even taste. In these dreams I am aware I am dreaming and can usually control myself and my actions. This particular dream, well more of a nightmare, I was being chased by an unseen person, or force. The more I tried to get away it seemed the closer it was to getting me. Suddenly I felt it jump on top of me.
This is when I awoke. Like the previous incident I was aware of the room I was in, I could even hear the TV in the background, but my body was completely paralyzed. It was different this time though, I could sense the force from my nightmare to my right. It felt as if it was holding me down with incredible force. I felt like I couldn’t breath and the only emotion I could feel was complete and utter terror. Suddenly I began to regain normal function of my body. The panic subsided, but the fear remained very real to me.
Less intense episodes of this continued to occur over the next couple of years until one night I experienced one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Much like the last intense episode it started in a dream. I was running towards a truck, what felt like an evil force hot on my trail chasing behind me. I made it to the truck and was going to shut the door when the evil force grabbed my foot and pulled me out. I again awoke with a paralyzed body. This time I saw a dark figure in the corner of my room. I was so engulfed with fear that I couldnt even try to yell out. I had a completely overwhelming feeling that this figure wanted my soul, and it felt as if it was trying to rip me from my body.
The only thought I had was that a demon was trying to destroy me. I have never been so scared in my life. When the episode subsided I cried. I couldn’t get back to sleep, nor did I plan to sleep for as long as I could go with out it.
I didn’t know what was happening to me, and even worse I felt completely helpless. I didnt want to talk about it with anyone because I knew they would think I was nuts. Truthfully I was beggining to think I was losing it myself. One day I began doing some research and discovered that what I was experiencing was Sleep Paralysis. It is a relatively common occurrence, most people experience it at least once in their life. It can also be a symptom of a sleep disorder known as narcolepsy.
I am completely relieved to put a name to what is going on and I look forward to working with my doctor to learn more about this disorder. Moral of the story, don’t let a fear of the unknown or a social stigma behind certain issues prevent you from seeking help for whatever issues you may be having.