02-20-07: night terrors

When I was in high school and college, I suffered from night terrors and sleep paralysis fairly regularly. During an episode, I would be very, very conscious of what was happening, but totally helpless to do anything about it. Although I was 95% awake, that remaining 5% messed with my perception in disturbing ways; I'd be convinced something otherworldly was closeby-- it could be something horrible and dark, or something very powerful and holy (but terrifying). It is hysically painful and emotionally very traumatic. It's almost impossible to get back to sleep afterwards, because as I drift off I can feel it creeping back on, so I'd force myself awake before I was trapped. Of course, eventually I would just be so exhausted that I'd just conk out, but it took hours of hell.

Anyway, last night I had a batch of terrors / paralysis; my first bout in probably a year. But something was different about last night's encounter: I got cocky. Usually when it's happening (again, I am almost entirely concious), I am panicking so severely that I will do anything to make it end (pray to anything an anyone ("Help me Jewish God!"), attempt to scream, try to move, conjure good memories and images of strong relatives, anything). But last night I noticed that if I breathed a certain way and repeated a certain word in my mind, the terror would come back and hit me all over again even stronger... squeezing my heart, making me freeze and unable to breathe, strangling me. But some twisted part of me wanted to see where it would go. I wondered if something otherworldly lay beyond my terror, and if I could just break through it maybe I could get myself to some other plane or something. I was very aware of the fact that this could kill me, but I figured if I died at least it would be for science.

So I tried to bring it on, and when I did, it brought it on fiercely... I was doing battle with horrible (figurative) demons that were controlled by my mind. After the third bout, I was too scared and freaked out so I called it off-- I wasn't in control anymore. I laid there in bed until the paralysis lifted, still in full-blown terrified panic... too scared to get out of bed, but desperately wanting to turn the light on. (Naturally, my nightstand lamp died two nights ago.) I was able to turn my clock-radio on, and was "comforted" by the AM talk radio host Art Bell and George Noory. (Great. Just what I need when I'm spooked out: stories of shadow people and creepy ghosty things. Intersperse that with the Delaware local news of a guy breaking into homes and raping the female inhabitants... Awesome!)

When I finally collected myself enough to think a bit and sit up (I was still panicking), I Wikipedia'd "Night Terrors" which led me to various medical sites on the topic. And yay: one of the things that helps you settle down from night terrors is a small serving of a Benzodiazepine-class drug: namely, Vitamin Xanax. Problem solved. (Well, problem worked around, anyway.) Glad to have had some handy.

Anyway, today I am totally, totally spent. My body feels like I ran a marathon with an anvil strapped to my chest.

It is interesting to note:
[] I never had/have terrors when sharing a bed with someone. I'm not sure if it's because I don't sleep quiiiiiiiite as soundly when I'm cosominating versus when I'm solo, or what.
[] I've only had them twice when my college roommates were in the same room with me. (They didn't notice anything.)
[] When I used to get them more often back in high school, I saw a loose pattern which was sorta linked to mah cycle.
[] They tend to come on when I'm on laying on my back, but not always. (Last night I was on my right side when it struck.)
[] I can't link it to any specific food or stressor.

Anyway, I have a lot of work to get done today, so I'm gonna get to that. Sorry I've been quiet on LJ / emails... lemme knock some stuff out for work, and then I'll goof off online a bit.