Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Sleep Paralysis is something that has affected me since my late teens. Growing up in the nineties, I didn't have the internet, so I didn't even know it was a thing. I thought it was just a weird thing happening only to me, that I couldn't explain. I spoke of it to almost no one except one of my Marine buddies. I had told him about it, and he was sure I was being abducted by aliens. We would laugh about it, but later on in life the internet would come, and with the help of Google I'd find that it was more common than I had thought, I wasn't the only one, and that there was actually a name for it. Sleep Paralysis.
For those that don't know what Sleep Paralysis is, it's a natural part of sleep. When the body shuts down to enter dream stages, the body paralyzes itself, so we don't act out our dreams. For those of us that experience Sleep Paralysis, the mind is awake and aware but the body is still paralyzed. When I was young I thought I was going crazy. It was a huge relief to find out that this was somewhat common. Although not many will experience this phenomenon very often like I do, most people will experience it at least once in their life. It can be scary, and most of the time it is, but I've also had some good experiences
As a teen the experiences were frightening. I never knew when they were going to come. Sometimes it would happen consecutive nights, other times I would go weeks, and sometimes months before reacurrences. I would wake up, but I couldn't move. I would struggle hard to open my eyes, but it was like someone was holding my eyelids down. I would try to move my arms and hands but I just couldn't budge them. Sometimes I would be able to fight it and open my eyes, I would be able to see, but could not move. Often I could snap out of it, but it wasn't so easy.
The times I had my eyes open, I was able to see shadow figures in my room, it was very frightening. Another time an entity was right at my bedside, it was only about three to four feet tall and it was just standing there staring at me. Sometimes when I couldn't open my eyes, I would hear voices or strange sounds. Sometimes it sounded like children playing, and singing songs. One time something was at my bedside, that I felt was dark and evil. It was whispering jiberish in my ear. The more these things happened the more I became a pro at snapping out of it. I went from long periods of terror, to being able to snap out of it in minutes. Minutes seemed like an eternity though, when I couldn't move.
In my mid twenties they slowly stopped happening, but then in my thirties they came back. The ones that were happening then were very sexual in nature. I don't want to go into too much detail on that, as I'm not super comfortable talking about that publicly, but it was very strange. Again in my mid thirties they stopped happening, but would return again once I entered my forties.
When I hit my forties they started happening again at least three or four times a month. They came upon me all of a sudden after a surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my face in 2016, which left me partially disabled. The last time it happened something amazing happened though. It started out the usual way. "I'm awake but I can't move." I was in a state of panic, I felt something grab my legs and it was pulling me off my bed! I tried hard to get my eyes open, and when I did I saw two dark figures moving about in my room. I was at point in my life where I was going through some tough times, and feeling fearless after coming so close to death. I was able to rationalize with myself that it was not real, and I decided to go with it. I was able to get up, but not in my body, it was more like an outer body experience. It was like I had become a spirit, but I could also feel that I was vibrating, like I was real. I lunged myself at the dark entities fearlessly and they scattered away, in fear of me, and disappeared out of my window. I followed them out, as i was in the mood to tango. When I got outside they were gone and it was night. The whole experience from there on out was even more strange. I knew I was asleep and it was not real, but still it felt real, and my mind was aware, so I could do whatever I wanted. I was able to fly around my town getting way high up in the air, looking down at all the houses in my town. I was taking full advantage of being aware, though in reality I was asleep. I didn't it to end. Eventually I felt something tap me, with a light shock that wasn't painful. Immediately I was back in my body. I was just laying there, and hadn't opened my eyes yet. I then opened my eyes smiling in amazement wondering if that would ever happen again.
In my book "The Essence" which is not quite complete, the Main character, who is a private investigator, suffers from Sleep Paralysis, and I get deep into the supernatural aspects of it, pulling from my personal experiences to help develop that character. I like to delve into the possibilities of the supernatural when writing fiction.
So what is happening to certain people, myself included, causing us to have these supernatural yet very real experiences? Is it really something supernatural like Aliens, Demons, or The Hag? I want to believe that something is going on, and that maybe there is something spiritual or supernatural happening, but my logical mind isn't having that. Who knows though? Before I had known how common this was I most certainly thought it was something magical. But now that I've been able to really study it, I think there may be a logical explanation.
The times I was experiencing Sleep Paralysis were times of extreme stress in my life. In my teens I was stressing over school. In my thirties I had had three kids in the matter of three years. Working full time while taking care of three babies was almost the most stressful time in my life. In my early forties I was dealing with cancer, depression, uncertainty of what I am going to do with my life now that things have changed, and if this is it, an existential crisis of my mind. Maybe the stress was affecting my sleep causing me to wake up while my body was still asleep. It did feel so real though, and I can see why some would see it as a spiritual experience. The logical side of my brain though, was telling me this can all be scientifically explained. Maybe extreme stress had something to do with me being affected by Sleep Paralysis, as it happened to me most often during stressful times in my life. Part of me thinks it's a bit of both, part scientific, part spiritual.
I am now forty-three and it's been months since I've had an episode. Since my last episode I have married the girl of my dreams, passed on my last scans for cancer, and looking onward to the new me, as I start my new career as a writer. I'm starting to like myself again, so maybe there's something to the science of it. Or maybe it's Aliens...