When I can remember

By: Ly T

Ever since I could remember, I began having nightmares after my parents’ divorce in 2006. That was nine years ago. Whenever I experience a nightmare, I find myself unable to move, speak, or even wake up. This has happened countless time but I brushed it off, thinking it was a part of childhood. Fast forward to 2015 and the nightmares have worsened. After researching online and reading many forums, I discovered that I have sleep paralysis: a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. In 2014, sleep paralysis occurred many times due to stress from school and academics. On days where I fall asleep studying for an exam, I find myself breaking out in cold sweat in the middle of the night due to a strange feeling in the room. I can remember one nightmare very vividly. I was asleep on my bed when I felt heavy pressure on my chest. It felt like there were thousands of bricks laid on top of my body. I couldn’t breathe nor could I call for help. When I opened my eyes, there was a black shadow in my room. I was horrified, but I was paralyzed, unable to move or speak. Once I regained strength in my body, I opened my eyes and the black shadow was nothing but my imagination. From head to toe, I shook for ten minutes due to the nightmare and my own sleeping disorder. Sometimes, it would happen within ten minutes of falling asleep again. The heavy pressure would be back on my chest and someone’s presence would be in the room. I experience hallucinations due to sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis has impacted my life in many ways.

In my case, I suffer from recurrent isolated sleep paralysis. It would occur within several minutes or even hours of my previous nightmare. When experiencing sleep paralysis, I sense an intruder in the room. I have tried to prevent this by sleeping with my sibling. However, it still occurred even with another being in the room. Aside from recurrent isolated sleep paralysis, I also suffer from a disorder called nytophobia which is a fear of the dark. I am unable to sleep with the lights off, therefore, I use a night lamp. Despite having some light in the room, I still experience traumatic nightmares. For Halloween, my friends and I watched the movie “Sixth Sense.” That night, the horror movie triggered my nightmare. After then, I stayed away from horror movies. I knew that anything horror related would trigger my sleep paralysis and nightmares. This does cause some isolation for me due to the fact that my friends enjoy watching horror films. I am unable to join them in some events due to my fear.

My recurrent isolated sleep paralysis disorder occurs less than three times every month. It became less frequent this year because I know how to manage my time with school. I do not take any medicine because I feel like I can handle this on my own. On nights where I experience sleep paralysis, I turn to my best friend who offers me comfort and strength. Having someone to talk to relieves stress in ways that one cannot even imagine. Although sleep disorder does affect my life, I know that I will be able to overcome it with my strong nature and will.

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