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…” 🙂
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 🙂
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 😉
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? 😉