- Night Terrors: Something to avoid
This article popped up on iO9 today (check it out here), all about “night terrors”. Go ahead and read it, and come on back.
My turn? Well, to start off, here’s a gif from the comments in that article that might perfectly tell you what night terrors are:
Yeah, they really are just like that.
That’s from one of the Grudge movies (#3, I think), and that feeling of creepiness you feel looking at it is magnified by a billion when you actually have a night terror.
For the uninitiated (lucky bastards), night terrors also go by the name “sleep paralysis”. They have been reported over centuries, it’s not a new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination. If fact, here’s a painting by Henry Fuseli called The Nightmare, from the early 19th Century (it’s also one of my favorite paintings):
The little demon guy is sitting on her chest, because that’s what it feels like. Science will tell you all about NREM sleep and muscle atonia, and paranormal folks will talk about the “old hag”. Here’s what I get out of it.
Now, despite my advanced age, I’m not exactly defenseless. I’m 6 foot tall, broad shouldered, and pretty strong.
You open your eyes, and no part of your body can move (hence the “paralysis”). Sure, you can’t move because otherwise you’d kick the crap out of anyone near you while you are sleeping. The body doesn’t want you to run off, so it keeps you immobilized.
Unfortunately, you are now wide awake, and paralyzed. That alone isn’t going to help your nerves. With that, your voice is also off limits, so that you aren’t yelling all manner of expletives in your sleep (I hold on to those treasures for the daytime). So, you start freaking out.
Your brain doesn’t have any idea what to do with itself while this is happening, so it starts insinuating that the worst possible thing in history is about to happen to you. That picture at the top is pretty damn close. There’s someone in the room. There’s someone watching you. There are monsters here. Something is about to grab you. You are about to be murdered.
No matter how much you struggle, you can’t scream out and you can’t move. Whatever your flavor of demon is, it’s here in the room with you, and you are about to feel that monster’s wrath.
Technically, you can finally shake yourself out of it after a matter of seconds. But those seconds are an eternity when it’s happening. Forget going back to sleep either, you’ll spend the rest of the night worried that it’ll just happen again. You’ll be awake the rest of the night, and maybe even a few nights more than that.
This isn’t a one-time shot for me, either, it’s been going on my entire life. When I was very small, say, 4-5 years old, I started dealing with them. I called it “The Tickler”, which sounds harmful enough. A few decades later, and typing that sentence still gave me a chill. I would lay there, just a small boy, terrified about going to bed. I would finally start to konk off, and I would snap awake as powerful hands grabbed by sides in what you could call a rough tickle.
During the day, sure, those are fun for a kid. But in the dark, with all the monsters, there was no humor in those hands. Only fear in me, trying every night to not think about them coming for me.
I’m sure that’s one reason why I’ve been fascinated with the supernatural all of my life, because I feel like I’ve dealt with it. That rational adult brain of mine (well, semi-rational) tells me there’s nothing to fear, that there are no unnatural creatures. But lying in my bed, after everyone is asleep, my thoughts betray me.
Will this be the night? Will it happen again?
I would say, “we shall see”. But with these things, you never see anything at all. That’s what makes them terrors.
Good luck to all of us.
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