Submitted Date 06/04/2019

I used to sleep a lot. And when I mean a lot, I mean a lot. I was able to sleep for more than twelve hours, or ten, give or take. Back in college, I'd continue to nap throughout the day afterward. Living with depression meant endless fatigue for me. And if I wasn't tired, sleeping still meant that I could escape from my feelings, obligations, and the world around me. Up until recently, when I began to have sleep paralysis.

(Before I continue, I'd like to add how sick it made me feel just to look at this image. It's literally what I see sometimes, and I got goosebumps. So I'm very sorry. Also, this is coming from someone who still watches a lot of horrors and has seen worse than a shadow.)

With sleep paralysis, your mind is awake, but your body is not. It's happening between waking up and falling asleep, it's a limbo. And if you've read or heard anything about it, you've probably heard that at its core, it's just plain terrifying. It's terrifying to some people because they are, well, paralyzed, and they're aware of it. Unable to shoot up from the bed as you would after a usual nightmare, and unable to talk. Some people see a figure or feel a presence around them, some feel a heavy sensation on top of their body.

For me, it's all the above, and then some (depending on the night). Each time, I've seen the same figure. It usually pulls at me or chokes me. I've even heard it sometimes, usually hissing or yelling, and what on medical terms explains the sounds is that it is the sound of yourself breathing (apparently). I've had sleep paralysis so much so far that I'm aware of when the 'presence' is coming, or when my body and ability to move slowly fades away. I've opened my eyes during it, have tried to scream, and usually go in and out of dreaming and being awake that my sleep paralysis plays out like a nightmare that I can literally feel and sometimes hear, all in the same set of my own room.

Recently, I found myself in a lucid dream for the first time, something I've read about countless times when I was younger. I was always fascinated by it and tried so hard to be able to do it. It only made sense to me, that since I am sleeping was my initial escape from the pain I felt in the real world, why not try to lucid dream? At least then in the dream realms, I could try and be happy, right? I used to read all about methods to lucid dream, and one of them is to constantly look at your hands and question if you're dreaming or not. For some reason, it works.

Well, lucid dreaming had not been on my mind for a while at this point. I was only worried about sleep paralysis, and then for some reason during a dream I decided to look at the palms of my hands and they began to elongate and move like waves of water. Then, I found myself realizing I was dreaming, and suddenly, I was sitting up on my bed (in my dream), looking at my palms. I could literally feel everything, and my whole room looked the same. I'm honestly still questioning if this was a lucid dream or some out of body experience because I was unable to change my surroundings. And what it might have been was the start of a lucid dream and then I fell back into sleep paralysis, because what happened next was that the same dark shadow figure that was always there looming over me during sleep paralysis appeared. But this time it was more real, and when it lunged at me, I put my hand out to keep it away. I remember its mouth was open and I had been forced to grab its jaw to push it away and I literally felt the inside of a mouth, it was too real. I kept trying to change my surroundings, or make it disappear, and kept telling myself it was a dream, but I still couldn't keep it away. Then, I couldn't wake up because my body had been paralyzed again.

After that recent experience, I never want to sleep again.

Sleep paralysis is horrible. You'd think it be ok because if you've had many episodes of sleep paralysis you would get the gist of it is just a dream. I've read so many medical explanations that I understand more than anything what it is and why my body would do it, yet it's still so real that none of that comforts me in any way.

It's not always butterflies and daisies to be attacked or choked or held down by something you perceive as literally demonic. And props to the people who willfully try to lucid dream, because sometimes, depending on how you approach the effort, before you can become lucid you must go through sleep paralysis. Every time I tell myself midst being paralyzed that I could just try to get through this and be able to lucid dream, it's never worth it. I would much rather try my best to regain full consciousness than being stuck beside a shadow figure that I can feel all too well.

I'd also like to add how shitty it is that so many people just want to stop sleeping in general after these experiences, and yet sleep paralysis happens more when you don't sleep well or sleepless. Oh, and also how there's no medicine or a cure.

I just feel stuck with this feeling that I and no one else can help. And the fact that I can't move or scream during it can't let anyone know around me that I want to be wakened up.

Has anyone else had experiences like this? Please share your sleep paralysis stories. We should start a group. A club or sleep-deprived people. I'm sure all of us have read enough on all the ways to prevent it, and some of us succeed and some, like me, fail no matter what.

To feel 'attacked' when you are literally just sleeping, trying to be peaceful, and I don't know, take care of yourself by sleeping, is such a terrible and hopeless feeling. Someone help me feel at least a little less alone.


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