I Don’t Remember…


I’m currently reading Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind, which is the 2nd of Ms Goldberg’s books I’ve read/worked with (and I highly recommend them!).

I don’t often share private information on this blog, but, it just goes to show that when you do a writing exercise that’s of a personal nature, it can bring up ideas for fiction writing. Here’s what I wrote in my notebook in response to the prompt “I don’t remember…” πŸ™‚

I don’t remember the last time that I actually woke in the morning feeling refreshed. I’m not sure I ever have!

My first bout of insomnia was when I was 14 and I was taken to the doctors. He prescribed sleeping tablets, but I never took them. I was concerned about how they would affect me at school and the ability to be cohesive at 8.30 every morning.

The problem continued well into my 30’s. I just couldn’t fall asleep and would often still be reading at 2am, willing myself to feel sleepy. I read a lot in those days lol.

But in 2007 the problem changed. We had to move to a rental property (long story about our business that I won’t go into) and within a matter of weeks I found myself waking up every 3 hours, not being able to breath, feeling as though someone was hugging my chest so tightly they were crushing me. Trips to the doctors and an alternative therapist finally diagnosed panic attacks…in my sleep lol. I never had an incident during the day when I was awake lol. Every single night I would go to bed, be up 3 hours later…recover, go back to bed and it would happen 3 hours later again. I was completely exhausted 😦

But that all stopped shortly after we moved into this house 5 years ago, but it left me with a slightly different problem…Sleep Paralysis.

When I initially told people what I had been experiencing they looked at me like I was mad! The most common response is “you must be dreaming” and in the end you stop telling people. But it wasn’t until a couple of months ago when I came across a video on YouTube that I realised what I had been experiencing had a name and I wasn’t alone. Although, after hearing the experiences of others I’m a little more freaked out about it.

Basically, Sleep Paralysis is where you wake up but you are completely paralysed and consumed with this intense fear, terror. For me, I’ve never been entirely sure why I’m so terrified, but many others have seen what it is that terrorises them in the small hours. You try to move, you can’t. You try to scream, you can’t. It can last from several seconds to a few minutes. Many other sufferers believe that the thing terrorising them is of a paranormal nature, but as I’ve never seen my dark shadow/entity (and I really DON’T want to) I’m not sure what I believe. The scientists who have studied it don’t seem to know either.

I’ve discovered a way to avert an attack which seems to work. When I lay down to sleep I have to think hard about nice things. Events of the day, what I’m going to do tomorrow and stories I’m working on. If I forget to do that or any negative thoughts creep in (I think about an advert I’ve seen about animal cruelty, or the blood and violence from a film) it can bring on an attack. It’s funny, because I don’t scare easily. I’m not a fan of horror films but I do love a ghost film, I just can’t watch that kind of stuff just before going to bed now lol.

So now, I consider myself very lucky if I sleep for 7 hours, but it’s usually more like 5 or 6 on an average night and I spend most of the day feeling tired. If I have a nap, I can’t go to sleep later, so it’s a viscous circle. I’ve tried various alternative medicines, read lots of books and tried various techniques, but there is no treatment out there for Sleep Paralysis, although, thankfully, I’ve been able to reduce my attacks to probably about 1 a month, and I know now that I’m not going mad πŸ™‚

When I reread what I wrote I thought, could this be my Nano 2013 novel? A woman who becomes petrified to go to sleep? But hasn’t that been done? Was it Nightmare On Elm Street or something like that? I’m quite fascinated by the whole thing and I’m sure I could turn it into fiction….I feel a mind map/spider graph coming on lol πŸ˜‰

The short video above is part of an hour long programme by Professor David J Hufford, who has been studying Sleep Paralysis for many years. Are there really demons who want to torment us during the night? It doesn’t seem to matter what religious denomination you belong to, sufferers come from all beliefs, and most believe that when they have an attack there is an evil entity in the room *shudders*

Scary huh? Will I freak myself out if I try to turn it into a novel? πŸ˜‰

Advertisements

54 thoughts on “I Don’t Remember…

  1. Wow, Vikki, that must be so difficult to live with. I’ve heard of sleep paralysis before but I’ve never known anyone who had it. One of my sons suffers from insomnia. one of my daughters has what’s been diagnosed as something similar to PTSD and it keeps her from sleeping. The fears are horrible, and like you, she can’t pinpoint the fear or the ‘demon’. I just can’t imagine what you go through. I suffer from menopausal hot flashes and don’t get much sleep, but I’ve never experienced terrors such as these. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers that you find something that works. Have you tried meditation? Massages? Chamomile Tea? Sleeping with a light on? Good luck to you and keep us posted.

    Like

    • Thanks Jenny πŸ™‚

      I’m ok with it now…now that I KNOW how common it actually is lol, and once a month is “liveable” if you know what I mean.

      Sorry to hear about your daughter, awful 😦

      I think I’ve kind of got used to my sleep problems (if you can EVER get used to it) and so I just get on with my life as best I can, it’s all you can do isn’t it.

      Yep, tried Meditation (I’m useless) and Chamomile (hate the taste lol) AND light doesn’t seem to make a difference, but thanks for the suggestions honey πŸ™‚

      Xx

      Like

  2. Thank you for the link to my post. I find it so interesting to read other people’s stories about sleep paralysis. When I first experienced it I thought it was some sort of demonic possession and I felt very alone. It’s amazing how many people have experienced sleep paralysis, I guess like most afflictions, it can affect anyone.
    I was once told to picture a white light all around me as I lay in bed, it actually seems to help ( when I remember to do it!).

    Like

    • You are very welcome honey πŸ™‚

      Oh, I know EXACTLY what you mean about feeling alone 😦

      Ahhhh, yes, I’ve heard of the white light technique, I think what I do is similar because I’m concentrating so hard on good things πŸ™‚

      Good luck honey!

      Xx

      Like

  3. I mean, I’d never bar the possibility of spiritual things. Sleep is so valuable to our physical repair that losing any has to be awful. I’d have bouts of insomnia in the past and I contributed mine to anxiety. Once I changed my creeping habits, it resolved mostly. I’m not sure I could manage paralysis. I’m glad you’ve found a way to manage it.

    Like

    • Thanks CC πŸ™‚

      Yeah, I don’t think people realise how debilitating lack of sleep can be. Some days I can only just function, but I have to just carry on and get on with it. I try to keep myself busy, because then I won’t nod off lol.

      Xx

      Like

  4. Very scary to have that much fear creep in during sleep. Panic attacks are not fun. Never had one in my sleep, but have had them on and off for the past few years. Lavender essential oil is pretty good for sleep too and might help with relaxing. It and rescue remedy have gotten to be my two favorites.

    Like

    • It is Sabrina πŸ™‚

      I’ve NEVER had a panic attack during waking hours, weird isn’t it…sorry to hear you suffer from them 😦

      I’ve tried Lavender oil (putting it on my pillow, having a bowl of pot pourri next to my bed) but it didn’t make any difference. I used to have a Rescue Remedy lip balm, but not used the drops. Might try that again.

      Thanks honey xx

      Like

  5. I had never heard of sleep paralysis before. What a shame you have these harrowing experiences because of them. Hope you find something that helps. Have you tried acupuncture? Just a thought that it might help.

    Like

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life. I can`t imagine how difficult and scary it must have been for you all of those years, dealing with that every night. I get sleep paralysis a few times per year and that freaks me out enough. I am happy to hear that you have reduced the attacks down to once per month. I hope that it will eventually go away for you. Actually, your method of making the attack go away was helpful to me.. I will try to think happy thoughts the next time one comes on… well, hopefully one never comes again! It can be so overwhelmingly frightful at the moment that one can forget that they can control whether it gets worse or not.

    Like

    • Thanks Sara πŸ™‚

      Yes, when I was going through the panic attacks every single night I was a complete wreck! 😦

      Ahhhhh, so you suffer too! Awful isn’t it 😦 I get my attacks as I’m trying to get to sleep, so that’s why the concentrating on good things works. I’m not sure it would work as well AS an attack comes on (ie if you’re already asleep). Good luck though honey, let me know if it worked. I think the key is to focus and not let your mind wander too much, because it’s then that you find yourself wandering into the darker recesses 😦

      (((((Hugs)))))

      Xx

      Like

  7. On top of sleeplessness to have sleep paralysis must be dreadful but I love the positivity that you could turn the experience into a story. I agree with you, done right it could make a fantastic book.
    I’ve never suffered anything like that though I don’t sleep well. I count 4 hours as a good night though I can often doze in n afternoon now too. My sleep problem was a feeling of dropping hard and suddenly into a black hole, so much so that the force woke me and I sat upright and rigid. It must be like fear of heights this feeling of falling off something.. Very hard to get back off to sleep. I don’t care for the way sleeping tablets make me feel next day either. xx Hugs xx

    Like

    • Thanks David, I really would like to write about it, especially as it would highlight the issue. Professor Hufford (the video above) who has been studying sleep paralysis for years says that a lot of people who seek medical advice about it are actually misdiagnosed as Schizophrenic! SHOCKING! There’s NO WAY I am Schizophrenic! Lol

      Ohhhhh, that’s interesting! I occasionally get that falling sensation. Have you researched it? You have my sympathies though honey. Only other people with sleep problems understand how consuming it is, and how DESPERATE you become for a decent nights sleep 😦

      (((((hugs))))) to you too xx

      Like

  8. That’s a scary thing to live with. If you do try and turn it into a novel you might understand it better? And I use writing as therapy, oftern writing about thinsg that I find frightening or make me angry. I shouldn’t worry if it’s been done before either as no one will deal with the subject in teh same way that you will, especially as it’s such a part of your life. Good luck, and let me know what you decidex

    Like

    • Thanks Debbie πŸ™‚

      Yes, that was what I was thinking! And as I said to David above, I like the idea of being able to highlight the issue, so that other sufferers don’t think they are mad….just not entirely sure at the moment how I get that into the plot if a novel lol.

      Xx

      Like

  9. A book – def. a book:) never had panic attacks when asleep -have had them during the day they are scary enough – I have always slept like the dead, apparently I barely move all night,I could be murdered while I slept – I hear nothing:( so on the few occasions, say high temps or the like, that I dont sleep well I go crazy – I dont know how any of you manage – I can nap during the day now so add to 6hours (thats how long bladder lasts!) at night – half an hour here and hour there and it keeps me going – does anyone sleep perfectly I wonder – does our lifestyle prevent proper sleep – did our cave dwellers have the same problems.

    Sorry to hear of your problem – panic and sleeplessness are both rotten to have, both well – so story write, that way you may not defeat it but you will confound it, and the nasty gods from mount olympus will have to delcare a draw not a win:)

    Like

    • Thanks Alberta, yeah, I think I’m going to do it! πŸ™‚

      Interesting questions honey! I think sleep problems are definitely a “modern” thing, but then saying that I remember hearing that Charles Dickens was lucky if he slept more than a couple of hours a night! Perhaps some people are just naturally predisposed to it? I wonder if Da Vinci was a sufferer?

      Oh I LOVE THAT, the gods having to declare a draw! He he he

      Thank you πŸ™‚

      Xx

      Like

      • I wonder sometimes – if sleep problems are a manifestation of anxieties, worries, a life distrupted in some way – would our cave dwellers have worse problems – after all a sabre tooth tiger would be a real threat more than a hag – did they suffer from nightmares I wonder – maybe one of the downsides of having an imagination and thinking brain is that we scare ourselves – maybe its a curse we have:)

        Like

      • Thats a really interesting question honey…and i guess we’ll never know, but yes, i agree, it does seem to be people who have great marinations that suffer from nightmares πŸ˜‰

        Thanks honey xx

        Like

  10. What a horrible thing to suffer with, Vikki.
    It might work as a subject for a novel but it’s not worth it if it makes you worse. Maybe rather than trying NaNo you could work on it in short bursts instead to see how you feel and stop straight away if your sleep problems seem to worsen. If it doesn’t makes things worse there’s always the chance it could help.

    Like

    • Thanks Patsy, awww, it’s not that bad *she says putting brave face on because she has to* πŸ˜‰

      That’s a good point honey, would it make the attacks worse if I was writing about it? Hmmmm, something to think about….what’s that expression, kill or cure? Lol

      Thanks honey, I will have a long hard think about it πŸ™‚

      Xx

      Like

  11. Hi Vikki. You have my deepest sympathy. I experienced sleep paralysis a couple of years ago when I was on a particular medication, which is well known for creating exceptionally vivid nightmares and other sleep disturbances. I’ve always been terrified of sleep paralysis since I saw a documentary about it many years ago (which also included a dramatisation of what an appearance by the Old Hag would be like) and found the actual experience to be even more terrifying than I imagined it could be. Luckily it stopped for me when I switched medication so I feel so bad for you that you still have to suffer it. I think using it to tell a story is a great idea, and might just make it easier to handle when it happens. Wishing you sweet dreams.

    Like

    • Thanks Kirsty πŸ™‚

      Ahhhh, so you know what it’s like then…scary isn’t it? 😦

      Yeah, I’m thinking it might be quite cathartic, and perhaps my book can have a happy ending where the main character overcomes it? πŸ˜‰

      Thanks honey, glad to hear you no longer suffer xx

      Like

  12. Having been plagued by insomnia as a teen, I sympathize. I’d play hours of Scrabble with myself (oh the high scores!) Sleep is so necessary to your health and lack of it comes with a lot of ill health effects over time. Have you ever been checked for sleep apnea? A few things have worked for me, perhaps they might help you. Make sure your room is 100% dark — no led clock, no flashing lights on phones, computers, air conditioners, etc. Cover them up. Get yourself a sound machine. I have this one I bought on Amazon http://amzn.to/102fl47 . (I take that with me everywhere I go). Exercise hard two hours or so before bed. Drink tea with valerian. I’d say drink warm milk too but I could never stomach the stuff — icky. πŸ™‚

    My particular sleep issues are made worse by the fact my mind won’t shut up. The moment I open my eyes, my brain starts talking. I make mental to-do lists. LOTS of to-do lists. I have trained myself out of it however. This trick sounds so simple but it works for me..(from a hypnotherapist) when you wake in the middle of the night — don’t open your eyes, instead count backwards from 100 and tell yourself you’re comfortable and relaxed like so: 100, 99, 98 relaxed and comfortable, 97, 96 95, relaxed and comfortable. etc etc. Isolate body parts and tighten the muscles and then relax them. Don’t allow other thoughts in. You’re just relaxed and comfortable.

    On the writing end of things…writing is often a purge and a doorway to insights you actually already have but might not be aware of. Write down your experiences with insomnia from your earliest memories of having it. Then put it in a book, self publish it, and give it away as free on Amazon or sell it. You just might help someone else. Good luck with this sweetie. It’s not an easy condition to deal with.

    Like

    • Wow, thanks for all those tips Rose πŸ™‚

      I don’t often wake during the night (not since the panic attacks year lol) it’s the getting to sleep and they waking up after 5 or 6 hours that’s the problem. I tend to get the sleep paralysis just as I’m going to sleep.

      Oh, EXACTLY! My mind just won’t shut up. I find it hard to relax at the best of times, so when I’m laying there in the darkness my mind is just going ten to the dozen lol

      Thanks honey, that’s not a bad idea, writing it as non-fiction….hmmmmm….you’ve given me something else to think about lol πŸ™‚

      Thank you!

      Xx

      Like

  13. Must be a scary thing to have but looks like you’re finding ways to deal with it, as well as help from people’s comments. You know I have sleep problems in episodes of bipolar (though not that freaky, just wide awake and whizzy) and we all have different remedies. There’s not a lot that hasn’t been written, said, done or filmed before – except that no-one’s done it Vikki’s way! You’re like everyone else – unique! Hehehe. I’d say don’t let the thought someone’s “done it” stop you! I agree with Elie Wiesel: “I write to understand, as much as to be understood.” πŸ™‚ x

    Like

  14. Wow Vikki, this is definitely a csae of write what you know! Can you imagine the strength of emotion and feeling, all those sense details which you could incorporate all from your own personal experience?! Though I am so sorry to hear that you have been suffering from this affliction all your life. You’re not alone. I know lots of others who have the very same experiences as you do (imagine how relieved they would be to read a novel about the same!). And yes panic attacks in your sleep happens a lot, even when they don’t occur in daylight hours. Life can be hard going….sending love and hugs xoxox

    Like

    • Thanks Edith πŸ™‚

      Im a big believer in writing stuff you know because the emotions of the situation will come across more intensely.

      I didn’t have a CLUE about panic attacks in your sleep. Id never heard of it before and I’ve still not met anyone who has suffered from them ONLY during sleep. Im just relieved that i don’t get them anymore lol….actually, i don’t know what was worse lol

      Thanks honey

      xx

      Like

  15. Vikki, this is too close to the bone. Schrinks called it one thing, the family called it another. Edith is so right. And often the panic attacks come at night because that’s when your defenses are down. Yes, many of us have these same experiences … so take her wise advice WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW into your characters, blend it into your stories. You have a hightened sense of fear and conversely you can attain a heightened sense of adventure πŸ™‚

    Like

  16. I have read all of Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing, because they’re fabulous. I use her ideas for my creative writing classes, and I get wonderful story reactions from my writers, just like your honest and open piece in this post. That said, your writing here is good because it is so REAL and TRUE. That’s what Goldberg presses us to do, and writing like that makes all the difference in the world. Additionally, your subject is a valuable one – there are so many people who have sleep problems. A novel about this would be well-read and appreciated. That’s my two cents! πŸ™‚

    Like

  17. YES! It’s a book – could be a very cool – very much a winner book. YES!
    OK. Sorry about the sleep thing. Sleep disruption makes life very difficult and messes with all the body chemistry…must make the brain think different…that whole thing about other brilliant people with sleep issues….that’s book worthy, too.
    You’ve probably tried it all, but everyone’s throwing out suggestions, so: Hatha (slow exercise – not really meditation) yoga, 15 min sunshine everyday (sailing all day will make you sleepy…or it’s the exhaustion from heat/effort does..or it’s being on the water?)…or I get on the tread mill 40 min….or sometimes I end up spending all night “writing” while trying to sleep.
    Oh, it’s a great idea for a book. (did I say that enough?)

    Like

  18. Great post. I have to share my “problem” — occasionally, I will cry out in my sleep…sometimes it wakes me up, I’m so loud. I was visiting my daughter and her husband and had one of those incident. I was way at the other end of the house, but I was loud enough to wake them and by the time they got to me I as sleeping soundly, unaware that I had cried out. Sometimes I will have a dream that causes it. Recently, I dreamed a bony hand came creeping up from under my bed and tried to take my rings off. I don’t wear any jewelry to bed. Anyway, I screamed out loud and woke up. The term “night terrors” comes to mind. Like when little children have them. Very interesting.

    Like

    • Thank you Marilyn πŸ™‚

      Oh honey, that sounds awful (((((hugs))))) Have you looked into it to see if there are any techniques or treatment? Or have you considered writing about it?

      Its exhausting isn’t it 😦

      xx

      Like

  19. Oh Vikki, poor you! However, you should really try and use it to your advantage! What if someone who wakes like you do and has sleep paralysis has been hiding it from their new partner but discovers that he is not in the bed each time they wake up. Maybe he’s a serial murderer, maybe he’s a ghost, maybe the fear is to do with him, maybe the protagonist is the murderer and is having flash backs she doesn’t understand. Maybe she murdered him and that’s why he is sometimes in the bed and sometimes not – depending on where her living nightmare takes her. Maybe the fear is a premonition of something she ends up doing. The possibilities are endless and all fictional! Don’t scare yourself, try writing through it!

    Like

  20. I think you should go for it they say write what you know and it would be a way to turn a negative into a positive the only problem could be that it could make your own problem worse initially depending what you do to the character but I think that it has the potential for a really great story yes Nightmare on Elm Street she was afraid to go to sleep because Freddie was waiting but yours is more about a different fear the bad things happen on waking not actually sleeping do you remember me writing this post well maybe her fear would be being the victim frozen helpless rather than just a witness http://paulaacton.com/2013/03/09/4142/

    Like

  21. Possibly, I had the sleep paralysis thing happen as a one-off. I woke up in the middle of a scary dream to find my bedroom had opened into a corridor that wasn’t usually there. The corridor was filled with snaggle-teethed clockwork demons all marching towards me. One of them leapt on my hand and hung onto it with its teeth, but I was totally paralysed and it also felt as if something was strangling me. Instinctively, I started thinking in my head all these prayers and words to hymns. Then I sort of had what can only be described as an out-of-body experience, in which I walked over to the window and slung it open, casting the demon on my hand out into a bright white light (odd, as it was the middle of the night).

    Some people would say I’d just suffered a nightmare, but they would have had to explain away the wound on the back of my hand that oozed pus and wouldn’t heal up for three weeks. A priest told me I’d possibly had an encounter with a succubus.

    And yes, I did use this experience in my Sword and Sorcery Fantasy novel. And, no, I’m not insane!
    PS I take Krill oil, which has helped with my insomnia. Also, Vitamin D is meant to help. Oh, and I’ve given up caffeine.

    Like

      • Make any sure any Krill oil you buy is sustainably sourced, so as not to upset the Antarctic’s delicate ecosystem. Watch out, too, as some of it is overpriced. I buy mine from Healthspan.co.uk, where you can also read some interesting articles about it. Also, I only take 500 mg of the possible 1,000 mg day with good results, which means I only have to buy one pack every two months.

        Like

  22. Yikes Vikki, that sounds really scary. Have you tried burning lavender before bed to relax? I only have regular kid provoked insomnia, not the same at all. I would read silly kids poem before you go to bed πŸ˜‰ just kidding, I am taking this very seriously, you poor thing.

    Like

    • Thanks Catherine πŸ™‚

      Ive tried Lavender oil, pillow spray, bath treatments, body lotions and massage oils, but ive never tried burning it, do you mean actually burning the flowers/dried buds?

      Ha ha ha, thats not a bad idea you know! lol….no worries honey, if i don’t laugh about it i’ll cry πŸ˜‰

      xx

      Like

  23. Hi Vikki – I also suffer from sleep paralysis, although thankfully not too often, becaues as I have got older, each attack seems to be more severe. I’ve not discussed it with anyone before, so reading your post was a bit of a revelation! I sleepwalked when I was a child, and had recurring nightmares on and off which were incredibly vivid. The sleep paralysis is quite extreme and VERY frightening, and I find after an attack, I have to get up and walk around and wake myself up because If I go back to sleep, I willl return to the nightmare. It got me thinking about levels of consciousness. I can wake myself up when I am dreaming (sometimes) and tell myself (in the dream) that it is a dream. But not always. When you start to wake up and you can’t move or breathe or speak, and feel that the advancing threat (usually a shape for me, an unknown figure) is close, it is absolutely terrifying. No wonder there are so many horror films around this subject – certain things literally do tap into our nightmares. I have written about it in the past, by weaving fragments into a couple of short stories, but it may be worth further creative exploration! A fascinating topic.

    Like

Lets chat!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s