I just woke up physically exhausted.
It feels as if I’ve swum a hundred laps; I don’t even have enough energy to wiggle my toes or move my head from side to side. I can’t even pinch myself and check whether I’m actually awake.
I don’t know if I am, in fact, awake.
I’ll take you through my dreams in the order that I woke up from them.
3:23 a.m.: The First
I remember sleeping on my back. That’s how I woke up. Except I wasn’t actually awake yet. So I’m “awake” and suddenly I hear a loud, terrifying bang. My body tries to react voluntarily. But I can’t move. I’m completely and utterly frozen. I recognize the sleep paralysis for what it is. I make a rookie mistake: I fall back asleep.
3:40 a.m.: The Second
I wake up again. The heater is on as I left it before I fell asleep. My night light warms the room with the same safe glow. Something is different, though. Something isn’t right. I start to hear a gentle hum, as if I’ve tuned into a far away radio station and am hearing the fuzzy bits. I wait for the transmission to clear in confusion. Suddenly, a loud voice comes through, filling up the entire room. It is my boss’ voice; he wants quick changes to a recent document I wrote. His voice drowns out my internal hyperventilation; I would move, but I can’t. Round two, and sleep paralysis is relentlessly winning.
I wiggle my toes with superhuman effort and shudder into real wakefulness. And then I fall back asleep.
4.05 a.m.: The Late Night Horror Special
So begins the singular most frightening sleep paralysis I have ever experienced. I wake up with a jerk just as my door opens and an old woman walks into my room. She looks at me for a couple of minutes. I stare back, my mouth dry, my heart fluttering, trying to escape. Of course I can’t move, of course I am paralyzed. I try to pray, I fail.
Right after, I wake up to another dream: this time I am trying to find my phone. I find it, hold it up in front of me, and all I see is blank air. I mean I can feel the phone, I can hear noises coming from it. I just can’t see it. I try to scream. I try to cry. Nothing happens. I am mute.
I wake up again. This time, I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I get out of bed and run to my sisters’ room down the hall. I peek, they’re both sleeping. Disappointed, I make my way back to my room. I calm myself down, assuring myself I’ll sleep again. Except, I see someone else lying in my bed. Someone else curled up in my quilt, who looks a lot like me, sleeping. In the bed that I just left. I stand and scream. Oh but I can’t. Because I am actually still ‘asleep.’ I am paralyzed. I am being tricked by my own head.
Immediately afterwards, I wake up in tears. This one’s real. Here is my chance to run to my mother’s room. So I make a dash for it. I make it! I slip into the warm blanket right beside her. I feel much better. I think of work in the morning and how I don’t want to be tired for it. Thank God. Just as I’m beginning to finally fall asleep, I feel someone standing beside me. It’s my mother. She’s just staring at me blankly in a room that has become dark and shadowy. I gape in confusion, realizing I’m paralyzed. Toes wiggling, I sweat and pray I wake up again. And then I do. But I wake up back in my own bed. I never left.
5.33 a.m.: The Real One
I finally woke up after over an hour of continuous, relentless sleep paralysis. There were things I didn’t mention, mostly because they were too disturbing to write down. Also, I don’t want to remember them.
But I cannot get over my experience. I felt completely vulnerable, open to danger. And I was frozen. And completely mute.
I’ve had sleep paralysis before but it’s never been this terrible. I feel wrecked and I don’t know why my own mind would do this to me. I’m writing this, partly because I need to touch base with reality and partly because I need to make sense of what has happened.
If someone has tips, please send them my way. I need help.