August 1, 2011

Very Bad Dreams

I can’t wake up.

The doll with the burnt out eye is playing the piano and turns towards me, “You are going to die here.”  

I panic. I scream. My eyelids are heavy.  

I can’t wake up.

I know I am asleep. I know this is a dream. But this does not change the terror I feel when the doll looks at me.  

I open my eyes.

I feel the dead weight of my body. I am lying in bed. I can not move. I can still hear the piano. There is a dark figure standing over me, watching me. 

I can’t wake up.

I am in a waking dream; terrified, unable to move, unable to scream. I use every ounce of strength I have to move but I can only wiggle my pinky. It was enough. The spell is broken. I sit up. There is no dark figure. There is no music. It is 3 a.m. And once again, I can’t sleep.

Sleep paralysis. In the transition state from asleep to awake, my mind, in it’s terror, is partially woken. My body is paralyzed, playing catch-up with my mind. It’s fairly common. The effects are paralysis of the body and simultaneously being awake and dreaming causing hallucinations. Trippy and terrifying.

This all started because I have fucking insomnia. Between cramming all night, and work. I had too much on my mind. countless nights I'd lay in bed and stare at the crack in the ceiling.  I tried to exhaust myself at the gym, count backwards from a thousand, nothing worked. It wasn’t healthy. I needed sleep. 

On a random visit to the pharmacy I picked up some over-the-counter sleeping pills. Main active ingredient: diphenhydramine. They knocked me out. I was a rock. They also made me very groggy in the mornings. 

Everything seemed manageable until I had a very bad dream. I’ve always had bad dreams, ever since I was a child. In fact, the first dream I remember was a reoccurring nightmare. It involved furniture moving on it’s own, a barking rottweiler and the devil. I was seven and it terrified me. 

Over the years, my nightmares became worse. I dreamt of demons, dreamt of serial killers, dreamt of death. I became desensitized. No matter how bad the dream, I’d wake up and just go back to sleep. That was, until the sleeping pills. 

Sleep paralysis. I had two or three episodes a week; terrified, frozen, helpless (although, I enjoyed the one with the cartoons dancing around my room). At first, I didn't know that the sleeping pills contributed to my condition, when I did, I stopped taking them. I don't know why but the episodes continued. 

Knowing what was happening to me did not make me any less terrified. Every time it happened I focused on my pinky. My greatest fear was waiting for the day that moving a pinky no longer worked. I was afraid to sleep. So once again, I had insomnia. 

I continue to have insomnia. I've tried everything. I rarely take sleeping pills any more. If I do they are defiantly not diphenhydramine. I haven’t had an episode in a while (knock on wood).  But I still have very bad dreams. 

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