Friday, 11 March 2016

Sleep Paralysis. Yep, it's a thing.

So last night for the first time in a long time, I had an episode of sleep paralysis. Sleep Paralysis is more common than you'd think, but many people will luckily go through their lives never having to deal with it. Sleep paralysis is more common in teenagers, young adults, and people with existing mental health issues. Unfortunately I fit in to 2 of those categories. I have mental health problems and I am a young adult. Sleep Paralysis is fairly hard to explain in full. Scientifically and simply put, it's your brain waking up before your body wakes up. I can hear and see, but I can't move my body without feeling that I'm using extreme force, then when I think I'm able to move all my limbs are numb. I'm not an expert in REM sleep and non-REM sleep, but it occurs when the two basically become confused, and your body panics.

Years and years ago, it was believed that it was the effects of a demon, or a spirit visiting you, some kind of link to the supernatural. And I can see how people came to this conclusion, during an episode of Sleep Paralysis you feel so terrified that you also feel that you're being watched the entire time. My Sleep Paralysis also affects my face. I try to call for help, but it literally feels like my face is sliding down, almost melting, and I can't get any words out, just strange sounds. The feeling of not being able to move your limbs also helps to convince you that there is something in the room with you, as far as you are concerned, you are awake. You think the reason you can't move is because there is something holding you down stopping even your little finger from moving. All of my episodes have occurred in dream replicas of my own home. You know normally in dreams you'll be at 'home' but actually it will be someone else's home? Sleep Paralysis takes place in an exact replica of my bedroom, down to what bed sheets I have, where I put things during the day, everything will look exactly as I left it, adding to the feeling that you are awake. For example in last nights dream, I turned my lamp on and staggered in to my mums room for help, I'd bet my life savings on it, that is who real it feels. But when I spoke to my mum today, I obviously didn't come in to her room, and when I finally woke up, my lamp was not turned on.

I have no idea how long it lasts for, I've never been able to work that out, sometimes it feels like just a few minutes, sometimes it feels like its been hours. Then it suddenly stops and your body fully wakes up to match your brain. It can take a few seconds to realise that you're totally awake, and it's not a dream again. I find the only way to get fully out of it is to turn all the lights on, walk around, wash my face in cold water and have a drink. I find I need to be fully awake or I'll just go straight back in to it again. I also have no idea what brings on my Sleep Paralysis, it's not something people have ever found definitive triggers for. Some people think it's just the link to mental health problems, other people think it's linked to stress, over tiredness, bad sleeping patterns. Something everyone gets at some points, but still less than half of the population will suffer from this.

I'm not 100% sure why I wrote this post. I've not had an episode for over a year now, but when I was 19 I was having episodes multiple times a night for weeks and weeks on end. Basically it means that things in my head are bad again, which I was starting to see anyway. I feel like maybe this time I should follow through with everyone's idea of what is wrong with me? By not confronting my own mind I'm going to end up losing everything I care about, through my own fault.

Rosie x

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