Documenting & Researching Night Terrors

Night Terrors from another Blog

This is a post I copied from another blog that I really relate to and helped me to to feel “normal” for the duration of the reading. Hopefully it will help some of you as well.

Please visit the author here:

http://ashleyjeree.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/night-terrors/

I woke up screaming last night. This hasn’t happened to me in a few months. I have night terrors, or what I like to call hallucinations. They come and go; sometimes they’re every night, sometimes I won’t have one for months. I’ve had them since I was little. I thought I figured out why I had them, but then I discovered I hadn’t.

I’ve always had very graphic dreams. My nightmares are worthy of horror status. When I was a little girl I used to have the worst nightmares. I remember when every night I was having a nightmare of being killed in a different way. This continued for a couple weeks. Sometimes I dream so much that I don’t feel rested in the morning. Some of my friends say they rarely have nightmares; I rarely don’t.

More than just nightmares, I also have night hallucinations. I will wake up, see my room as it is, but I will hallucinate something in the room that’s not there. Most often this is spiders, but sometimes its people. In real life spiders give me the heeby-jeebies, but I’m not terrified of them. I have no idea why this is the most common hallucination I’ve had. I will have my eyes open when I’m seeing this, sometimes be sitting or standing, but I won’t fully wake until I turn on the light or run out of my room. It’s like I’m stuck in this in-between state of sleeping and full consciousness.

I remember many of my hallucinations clearly, even if they happened years ago. One of the worst was when I was still living at home. I opened my eyes and saw giant spiders falling from the ceiling, one directly over my face. I screamed and had to slide out of bed without sitting up because the spider was close enough that it would hit my face. I flipped on the light and stood there hyperventilating until my mind processed that it was a hallucination. Last night, I woke up and saw a tarantula the size of my hand hanging from a web about a foot from my face, while one crawled out from under the blanket next to me. I screamed, jumped across the room in one leap and flipped the light on. I stood there scanning the room frantically, chest heaving. The dogs looked up at me confused and tired. I had to rip off all the sheets and blankets to make sure it was just a hallucination before I could go back to bed. Sometimes when I go back to sleep I hallucinate again, the same or similar thing, so I try to stay awake for a while or leave a light on.

Arachnids aren’t the only thing that haunt me. Sometimes I wake up and see people. The first time I remember seeing someone was when I was in high school. I had one of those butterfly nets around my bed, the kind that is just around the head of the bed. I woke up in the morning, with my face in the net. Crouching down next to my bed was a man, with his face directly in front of mine. I screamed and sat up. Since it was light he quickly vanished. Just a few months ago in my old house, I was sleeping on the couch for a while, just because sometimes it’s better for my back. Every night I would wake up and see someone standing in the middle of the room. At first I would jump up and turn on the light. After a while I got used to it and would just turn over and go back to sleep.

This makes for an awkward night if this happens when I’m not alone. Usually I warn people of my hallucinations if I’m sharing the bed, but it’s a weird thing to tell someone. I used to think it happened when I got hot in my sleep, but after keeping my room cold, I’ve realized that’s not always true. But, it is pretty much guaranteed if I get hot in my sleep, so it’s best to keep things chilly. I’ve hallucinated in the past with two different boyfriends. They learned the hard way not to try to hold me down. I don’t really process anything during that time other than, I need to get away from whatever is coming at me.

I’ve always wanted to do a sleep study, but there’s no way to guarantee I’d hallucinate and to be quite honest, it kind of creeps me out. Someone watching or videotaping me while I’m sleeping is just a little weird. I’ve sparked the interest of many people in the medical field. The most recent was a nurse from Salt Lake. He said he’d been reading about people with night terrors and even offered for me to come to the hospital for research. Someday it is something I want to look into more. I don’t know why I have them and I want to know. If I get really stressed the frequency increases. It’s obviously not normal. I don’t like waking up screaming. I don’t like being scared to go back to sleep. But as of now, it’s not something that disrupts my everyday life. It doesn’t prohibit me from sleeping. Before last night, I hadn’t had a hallucination in over a month. This was my first one in the new apartment.

So next time you can’t sleep be thankful you don’t have giant spiders falling on your face, or dark figures pushing you down in bed, or huge bees swarming around the ceiling, or someone standing in the room watching you every night. Sleep tight.

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