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Sleep Paralysis: I Wouldn't Wish It On My Worst Enemy

by Russ Litten
11 February 2013 22 Comments

Ever had sleep paralysis? Imagine awaking to a strong sense of a 'presence', pressure on your chest, intense fear and hallucinations, but being incapable of moving a muscle. I've had two unhealthy doses and just writing this is making me break out into a sweat.

The first one was about twenty years ago. I’d got back from Glastonbury after a weekend of general over-indulgence and very little kip. At that time I lived on the attic floor of a big old house. I spent the evening watching the box then turned in about half nine. I was kipping on a double mattress slung on the floor, the room was in bathed in that weird summer half-dusk twilight and for some reason, despite me extreme fatigue, I was finding it hard to drop off. I think I was “beyond meself”, as they say. I managed a few fitful naps, kept jolting awake and drifting off again. I put this down to the remnants of the weekends revellery still rampaging round me bloodstream, a gradual winding down, last orders for me metabolism, so to speak. The landlord inside me head was shouting “can we have your glasses please, do yer talking while yer walking” etc etc.

After a bit I realised I was staring up at the ceiling, fully awake, the room now fallen fairly dark. All sorts of random stuff was racing through me noggin. Then, for some reason – and I remember this very very clearly – I thought “Hhhmm, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller – what a strange couple that was” And with that I felt this sudden massive crushing on me chest, like some big strong fucker had suddenly dropped down with both palms onto me and was pinning me to the deck. Me first and most obvious instinct was that some cunt had got into the room, which wasn’t entirely unlikely as it was a shared house with more than it’s fair share of itinerant weirdos.

“In strolled this fucker with a top hat and a bone through his nose and his face all blacked up with boot polish.”

I tried to get up but this fucking thing rammed me down with renewed vigour, as though sensing me resistance. It felt exactly like big heavy hands across me chest and shoulders. Me second instinct was to open me eyes. An that’s when I properly shat meself, cos in a heartbeat I realised that my eyes were wide open, I wasn’t having a dream and there was fucking no-one there. No one. But could I fuck raise meself against this overwhelming weight. And as soon as I realised that I was shot through with a bolt of absolute pure terror. I mean stark raw fear the likes of which I have never ever experienced, a terror that is virtually impossible to put into words.

I felt as though I was in the presence of something absolutely unspeakably evil and it was hell-bent on ripping my heart out of my chest and feeding it to the fucking hounds of hell. Writing this is making me break out into a sweat, I can still almost taste the fear of this evil, evil motherfucker. I tried to shout out, but the sound was frozen dead in me throat.

And then, as suddenly as it had dropped down on me, the weight was lifted. And then I started fucking floating towards the bastard ceiling. I clearly remember thinking “Oh Jesus, this is happening, this is actually fucking happening.” It was like I was utterly weightless, full of helium. I could see the artex on the apex of the ceiling getting closer and closer. I remember thinking, if I look round I’ll see me own body on the bed, so I looked round over me shoulder and saw an empty bed, every detail of the sweat soaked sheets below me. That’s when I started properly sobbing. I remember thinking, am I going to heaven? Is this being dead? The ceiling got close enough to touch so I reached out and touched it and then I woke up in me bed blathered in sweat and shrieking and crying like an infant.

I pelted down the stairs, everyone was out. I turned a radio on to hear a human voice, some normality to bring me back down but all I could get was white noise. The clock said twenty past eleven. All of this is etched onto me memory cos I kept thinking, “Is this real? Is this real?” I was in a right two and eight. Eventually I got Radio 4 and calmed down enough to make a cup of tea and take stock.

Over the next few days I was jittery as fuck. Everyone who I spoke to about it either thought I was lying, on drugs, or had just had a nightmare. Eventually I went to the library and did some looking up and found a few articles. Then I realised I hadn’t imagined it and I wasn’t insane. Which was a relief, but for a few weeks after I was still a bit wary of bedtime and what it might bring.

The next episode was a fucking pearler. Around a year or so later, I’d got me own flat and was seeing this bird. We tended to have big dramatic rows and without boring you with details, one of these culminated in me spending a fitful night kipping in a car outside me own flat. When I eventually got into me own quarters, I was cream crackered and decided to sleep for the day and get some proper rest. I got into the scratcher, completely exhausted and fell straight into the land of nod.

“I felt this sudden massive crushing on me chest, like some big strong fucker was pinning me to the deck.”

Woke up again some time later, same thing, Giant fuckin Haystacks on me chest. Broad daylight outside. The same sickening dread in the guts, the presence of sheer evil in the room like an ominous stink. But this time I knew what was going on. “You’re asleep, you’re asleep” I kept saying in me head. Then the weight lifted and the door opened and in strolled this fucker with a top hat and a bone through his nose and his face all blacked up with boot polish. A bastard voodoo man with a crazy fixed grin and leering eyes and the cunt was there right in front of me, clear as day, as solid 3-D real as the rest of the room. There was me wardrobe, there was me clothes on the floor, there was the door and the window and there was a jauntily dressed demonic cunt with a topper and a bone through his bugle, boot polish about an inch thick on his boat race. (Years later, when I saw that DAAAAVE out of League Of Gentlemen I had a brief but horrific flashback. Seriously thought someone was taking the piss.)

Anyway, this dude strolled up to me bedside and I was sat up in bed too frozen too move. He came right up next to me and bent down to stare into my eyes. “You’re not real,” I said. “Oh aren’t I?” he grinned. “Well, that means I can’t do this then” And he reached down and grabbed me wrist and twisted with both hands, gave me a Chinese burn.

I woke up shouting and screaming again, and I’d grabbed me own wrist and was twisting fuck out of it.

I can only conclude two things from these two carry-ons: one, there is a strange land halfway between consciousness and sleep which is more powerful than anything else on hell, heaven or earth. And two, I never ever want to have sleep paralysis again. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

I’m knackered after recalling all that now. I’m off for a lie down.

If you like it, Pass it on

image descriptionCOMMENTS

Ryan Hurd 5:58 pm, 13-Jul-2010

thanks for this post -- scary and hilarious. maybe I laughed to keep from crying. I am a life-long sleep paralysis experiencer and a dream researcher, and want to reassure you that over time SP can become an incredible gateway to lucid dreaming, out-of-body experience, and other extraordinary states of consciousness. what's in the way is fear... easy to notice, but harder to deal with! cheers, RH

Russ Litten 7:43 am, 14-Jul-2010

Cheers RH, but I would gladly forsake all higher consciousness experience if there was even the slightest chance that I'd bump into that voodoo fucker again. Did once have a similar kind of out of body experience but I'd better not post it up for fear of being sectioned.

Barry 1:26 pm, 4-Oct-2010

Amphetamine psychosis, textbook.

Simon 11:43 am, 5-Oct-2010

Interesting article, but rendered infuriating to read by the repeated use of 'me' instead of 'my'. It's not idiosyncratic. You just sound like a nob.

Russ 3:47 pm, 5-Oct-2010

It's spelt "knob" but thanks for the feedback. It means the world to my.

Dark Dan 11:22 pm, 5-Oct-2010

i also get sleep paralysis but...alot i certainly feel like i will die if i do not wake up, such a terrifying but eventful experience

Chris 10:34 pm, 8-Oct-2010

I was going to point out that it's spelt "my" not "me", but you let the Dick van Dyke act slip near the end. Give up speed, it could turn you into a total mockernee donut.

Keith Wildman 1:17 pm, 11-Oct-2010

Dick Van Dyke? When's he been to Hull. Unless I missed that Episode of Diagnosis Murder.

chelsea mcmichael 3:06 am, 31-Oct-2010

hello, ive had the same thing 1 time and i am absoulutley terrified incase it happens again.! it was just after i turned 16, i went to bed 2:30am put the hall light on opened my bedroom door and got into my bottom bunk (sister on top) and as normal drifted off to sleep. i heard sum1 switch the light off so i opened my eyes and it was pitch black, i went to shout out but i couldnt make a sound, and i couldnt move so i started panicking, then my body was picked up off the bed and then thrown back down as i was being thrown back down i heard an old evil mans voice in me ear then my chest lifted up and loads of black stuff came flying out of it, then i felt like there was somthing furry wrapped arounf my throat, my first thought was that my cat had come and was lying across my neck then everything kinda stopped, and the light was back on, keeping in mind i felt no pain or weight at all on my chest, any1 got any suggestions as to what this could be.? would be much appreciated. thanks, chelsea. x

Nick 2:47 pm, 14-Feb-2011

I've had that twice. Ferkin terrifying. With me i awake, no dreaming. Just can't move, cannot even open my eyes. Done some research on it, seems it's not an uncommon event in people who are under some stress, or on the gear/booze.

Stacks 8:56 am, 25-Feb-2011

Great article Suffer from this myself. Usually after a heavy weekend without sufficient sleep. Scary experience at first but have learned to calm down and reallise when it's happening now. Your right about the fear it's nothing short of terrifying at first when you dont know what's going on.

David Hillier 2:55 pm, 9-Dec-2012

Had a fair bit of this, and it's always been a day or two after banging loads of gear. People in the end of the bed, floating, the lot. Scares the shit out of me. Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm glad it's happening to someone else!

Chris 5:47 pm, 9-Dec-2012

Stopped reading when I realised the illiterate writer doesn't know difference between 'my' and 'me'

spencer 10:06 pm, 9-Dec-2012

I get it, not so severe but almost everytime I lay on my back. The feeling of powerlessness is the worst...

Dee 11:28 pm, 9-Dec-2012

No, but I have had what I call 'waking dreams' All of them are about insects. In the last one I sat up in bed and pushed all the covers off because in my dream it was covered in spiders with hard beetle-like bodies. My hubby asked what was wrong so I told him. My eyes were wide open and I knew I was dreaming but at the same time having a conversation about it whilst brushing them off us. I remember he said "Are you dreaming?" to which I said "yes!" then went back to sleep.

Harry Harris 2:26 am, 10-Dec-2012

Terrifically written, properly terrifying piece that I shouldn't have read just before crashing out.

Mike 2:43 pm, 11-Dec-2012

I have had it a lot and put it down to an over-indulgent 20s. It is an absolutely mental level of intensity. In mine I usually think that the shadow cast across my curtains from a tree is someone climbing in my window and I can't move. There is loads of noise and it's really intense but in a perverse way it's not a completely bad experience.

Matt 1:20 pm, 11-Feb-2013

None of this is true. "The next episode was a fucking pearler. Around a year or so later... ...(Years later, when I saw that DAAAAVE out of League Of Gentlemen..."

sminkypinkyboomboom 3:26 pm, 4-Mar-2013

I've had that, but never knew what it was. I assumed it was some sort of demonic possession. What a relief.

Shaun H.C 11:43 pm, 8-Mar-2013

Had this happen to me at least two or three times. Its absolutely terrifying to say the least. Utterly powerless to be able to do anything about it when it is happening and so relieved when it has all stopped. Fearful of going to sleep in the following days that it has happened. Hope my grammar is ok as im not wanting the 'Grammer Nazis' on me back!

Bert Badger 6:13 am, 3-Aug-2013

I had it a lot when I was in my late 20s, early 30s. Can't recall a great pressure on my chest, any ghost-type apparitions, or my eyes being open, just the sensation of being awake and unable to move a muscle despite straining with all my might to do so. Until reading this article I thought I was the only person in the world to experience it! There was a feeling of utter exhaustion and that the easier thing to do would be to succumb to it rather than fight it. But I just couldn't let myself give in. Once I remember straining so hard to move a leg that I eventually did and that 'broke the spell'. At other times, I managed to yell or at least grunt loudly enough to alert my wife or kids (whom I had forewarned) and once they had come into the bedroom and touched my arm or leg, the paralysis melted away and I was able to move. It was the most awful feeling I've ever had. Thankfully, I haven't experienced it for many years.

Flyingwombat 12:27 am, 13-Feb-2014

I've had this repeatedly & it's definately worse when coming of booze or drugs. mines usually involves thinking my rottweiler is attacking me. But fear not doctor wombat has a foolproof way to wake yourself up. now this will sound daft but it was told to me by a fellow sufferer(alcoholic). when it happens try to scrunch up your nose. sounds mad but it works.

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