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Friday, September 23, 2011

What Dreams Are Made Of

I have night terrors.  All. The. Time.

When I say that, I don't mean I have bad dreams. I mean that I have seriously debilitating periods of sleep paralysis brought on by terrible hallucinations that are usually caused by migraines, stress, lack of sleep or an irregular diet. One causes the other and the cycle repeats itself. I've been like this my whole life. 

I try to control myself, really, I do. Routine is difficult for me, and a 'normal' sleep pattern is very difficult. I really enjoy sleeping from 5-9am and from 7-10pm. Unfortunately for me, I work during the day, so that type of sleep pattern isn't a viable option. 

This week, I had 4 consecutive Special Fun Dream Nights. Party Time!

On the weekend, my cousin and I went to the new Halloween shop here in town. It's fantastic! That prompted me to recall the haunted horror house in Vegas that I visited a couple of years ago with my friend Rose. Now, that place was INSANELY scary. It makes me sick to remember that place, and no doubt the stress of that memory brought on the first terror.

Vegas Fun Time... aka Let's Torture Terri

One day, I went to Las Vegas, only I called it Las Heatstroke because my friend nearly died on the first day from heatstroke. That's a fact. She barfed in the bathroom when we went to a Cirque de Soleil show while I was in the audience, gaily enjoying the flips and twists that those fantastic performers do in their shows. Bendy people doing stunts.

Anyway, after she nearly died, we decided to go to this scary place to check out the sights. It's part of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. If you have been there and you don't find it scary, good for you. I found it scary. 

Rose and I wound our way through this museum, and finally came around the corner to this place where a couple of people were peering into the face of a 'figure' and the man was exclaiming that the figure wasn't real while the other person (I can't remember if it was a man or woman - I must have blocked this out) was saying the opposite. 

Something just felt wrong to me. So I kept watching him, surreptitiously, while giving Rose the play by play details, because she either didn't care or didn't believe me. If you have ever been to Tussaud's, you will know that some of those figures are damned convincing. But this one gave me the creeps, and when those two looked away, that 'figure' moved. Oh yeah, that figure was a human figure.

And he crooked his finger at me and invited me over to the 'haunted room.'

And my stomach turned to ice and my bowels turned to water.

And while I was completely turned toward him, I turned my head and eyes away as if it was completely normal to face one direction and stare off in another. "Yeah, I always stand like I'm on a runway. What?!"

I asked Rose if she wanted to go in there and after a few minutes of working up our courage, we did so. I was so scared. If you read the Freddy Krueger post earlier in the blog, you might be interested to know that I was more scared here than I was back then.

Four of us ended up going into that room together and as soon as I stepped into the first room, I wanted to go back out. But we couldn't - you had to go through once you started. The signs outside read, "Do not touch the actors" (Oh God, moving parts!) and "If you have blood pressure problems or heart concerns, do not come in here!" (Ummm, Dear God).

So, the first scene was a Hostel type scene. Did I mention that I was first in line? And you have to hold onto each other's hips and walk through together? I had no one's hips to hold on to. Just me, trying to find our way in the dark, with things jumping out at me. Wait, not just 'things', but dressed up insane-asylum things.

I'm not a screamer, remember? Yeah, whatever, I screamed that day. I think I cried a little bit, too.

I could cry now, just thinking about it. My jaw is all strained, just trying to hold in the stress.

I don't even remember all the scenes. I just remember that there were a lot of them... there were a lot of actual people in there, 'interacting' with us. There was one point where the terror had just gotten to such a point that there was an EXIT sign and I thought, "YEAH, A DOOR!" and when I got to it, I tried desperately to find a doorknob but there was NONE. So in my mind, the only thing to do was to kick down the door - that's how afraid I was. So I leaned back, raised my right leg (apparently I am a ninja - and don't doubt me, I would have kicked the guts out of that door!) and was just about to kick when Rose turned me away from the door.

You see, Rose had grabbed my shoulders rather than my hips and I thought she was pulling me backwards to help give me a boost in kicking down the door. But alas, she was not. She was trying to help us find a way out in a legal, normal way. So she turned me back toward the insanity that was the asylum.

The last room we had to make it through reminded me of a Super Mario kind of deal, where you have to make it past the bad guy in order to save the Princess. We had to make it past a dude to get out, only rather than just pass a window, I figured he could get directly in front of us, DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME BECAUSE I WAS FIRST, and I was right. When I ran toward the door, with my wormtrail of people following, he dodged that way, too. So I put on the brakes and ran back. So did he.

I tried to trick him but he was cagey, and caught me. By this time, I was so out of my head with fear that I froze. It was just like my dreams but I couldn't wake up. I stopped breathing and I was literally frozen. I could not move. No breath. No walking. No talking. I couldn't move my head - I was face level with his chest and Rose was trying to push me but I was rooted to the spot. There was my wormtrail behind me, pushing me to move, and the insane dude actor ahead of me, daring me to get past him, and I was a wall of fear.

Sorry 'bout it.

And Rose said, "Terri, Go! Run!"

As if she didn't see him. Or didn't care. 

And I heard myself saying, "Don't touch the actors, don't touch the actors..."

And the insane asylum dude poked me in the chest and said, "Yeah, don't touch the actors!" while he laughed a little bit. No heart problem or blood pressure problem, just an overactive imagination and 99.9% belief in your little game, Sir.

And Rose shook me and pushed me as he stepped aside and let us go. 

It's a good thing I wasn't in there alone.

That's what my dreams are made of.

* * *

Back to the night of visiting the Halloween store:

I was asleep, and had the vivid image of this terrible, gray and green face with sharp teeth directly behind me as I slept. I knew I was sleeping on my stomach in my bed, in the dark. While fully asleep, my eyes wrenched open and I came straight up in the bed as I twisted around. I fear that one day I will actually see someone there and I will destroy my bed by using the bathroom in it when this happens.

I knew I was asleep. I knew even as I was waking that it was a dream. I knew that it was a night terror as soon as I felt my body rising out of the bed. I knew that I had to relax as soon as I saw that face in my dream and my heart started racing and my body tensed up and my legs started kicking. And even though I knew, I had to let it all happen because stopping it locks in all that fear and makes it worse - it causes the paralysis to stick with me. Laying back down to relax is torture afterward.

Night #2

I woke up in fear after dreaming that my coworker had attacked me for a piece of steak. I rarely eat meat, and certainly wouldn't fight for it. She then assaulted me with that steak. It was a rough, bloody affair and I was afraid of her after she was like a clawing, beastly cat for that steak. She was untrustworthy and vicious.

Meanwhile, that coworker is the most UNLIKELY person in the world to do that. I have since told her about it and we both have had a good giggle. She rarely eats meat, either, and neither would she fight for it. I told her she is a T-Rex to me, forever.

But I woke up, after really defending myself from her. In my dream, I was truly scared for my safety. I woke up fast, gasping for air and straight upright in bed. It is very scary to be vulnerable, upright in bed, in the dark, when you are afraid. I was then afraid for my safety in reality at that point, even though I knew things were ok. It's hard to make your mind understand that when you have night terrors.

Night #3

I dreamed I was holding someone's hand. I could see my right hand very clearly. I was holding someone's hand and I was holding it very gently but tightly.

After awhile I realized the hands were different colours - one looked like a mannequin's hand. I realized then that the hand belonged to an arm that was disembodied from the elbow. Looking down to the elbow, I could not see anything - no blood, nothing.

Looking to my left, I saw that the disembodied arm and hand were also mine, so I was therefore holding onto my own left hand very tightly. I remember my thumbs being intertwined with each other. Upon that realization, my legs kicked and I came rushing to consciousness quickly. 

When I get Scared (capital S for a reason) in a dream, I realize it and try to wake myself right away. Sometimes I can't and that increases the terror immensely. I know it's a dream but it's like the film won't stop rolling.

Once that happens, my breathing becomes laboured and my body is frozen and I really have to work at making everything slow down. After a lifetime of this, I have some skills with defusing it, but sometimes it takes time. When I finally get out of the situation, it is usually with a lot of physical and emotional stress. 

Night #4

I dreamed I was in my classroom and my students were working on projects. There were 3 students who started having reactions to something and I was struggling to get help but it felt like no one was helping. Things were rapidly going downhill and no one was noticing but me. I was so scared and sad and defeated and it was just too much to bear and after three nights of these kinds of dreams, I really had to work to get out of this one. 

It took me awhile to shake out of this dream. It was stifling. 

* * *

After those 4 Fun Nights, I am exhausted. In Newfoundland, we call this type of dream the Old Hag. The Hag brings terrors and paralysis. She visits you at night, bringing your worst fears while she sits on your chest and terrorizes you, and you are powerless to stop her. No one else can see her or feel your pain. You, and you alone, get to share her company.

I don't believe in that b!tch. I can believe it's an overactive brain, stress, lack of sleep, etc., but I do not want to believe that it is some spirit who flies around, sitting on people all night. For those who do believe... Seriously, Hag? - Get a life of your own. I hope a vampire gets you.

My grandfather used to get the Old Hag all the time. He would punch walls, tell off my nan, everything. She used to bless him all the time but he would have bad times with his memories about the war. After awhile, nan couldn't sleep in the same bed with him anymore because it wasn't safe for her. But it was ok, in my opinion, because she had been pregnant 23 times by that point. Time to slow down & take a break on the baby-making, grandparents!

Like my pop, I'm certainly fun to sleep with: grinding teeth, talking in my sleep, kicking legs and sitting bolt upright during the night while gasping for air. 

Wanna have a sleepover? It'll be a dream!

Dream Weaver 
I've just closed my eyes again 
Climbed aboard the dream weaver train 
Driver take away my worries of today 
And leave tomorrow behind 
Dream weaver 
I believe you can get me through the night 
Dream weaver 
I believe we can reach the morning light 

Fly me high through the starry skies 
Maybe to an astral plane 
Cross the highways of fantasy 
Help me to forget today's pain 
Dream weaver 
I believe you can get me through the night 
Dream weaver 
I believe we can reach the morning light 

Though the dawn may be coming soon 
There still may be some time 
Fly me away to the bright side of the moon 
And meet me on the other side 

Dream weaver 
I believe you can get me through the night 
Dream weaver 
I believe we can reach the morning light 
Dream weaver 
- REO Speedwagon


  1. I suffer from sleep paralysis too. Alot. It sucks. I feel for you.

  2. Thanks. Last night was terrible. I slept with a light on. LOL.


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