Way-back machine: this post was made on 15 Sep 2007 on Spaces.Live.com
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It was genuinely the most terrifying experience of my life.
For the first and only time in my life I experienced a terrifying moment when I woke-up in the early hours of Sunday morning (9 Sep 2007). I had just had a nightmare, the details of what was in the dream immediately vanished as I woke, but I was thrown into the most terrifying five minutes that I can recall.
I woke-up with a pounding heart from my nightmare and immediately recognised that things were going from bad to worse. There was an intense shrill whining in my ears that seemed to rotate like the outer disc of an extraterestrial spacecraft. It was loud and getting even louder as my panic grew.
I wanted to look around but became aware that I wasn’t able to move, I couldn’t move a muscle. Try as I might, I couldn’t even twitch a finger. Was I taking time to explore the experience and find any cause? Not at all – there was no time considering the imminent danger.
Soon my expectations of what was about to happen were clouding my judgement. I had expected that a burglar was about to enter my room (that being what probably woke me up in the first place), no no, I knew that a burglar was about to enter my room. The adrenalin was coursing through me, the steely rigid fear tracking its way through my veins. My heart was pounding more and more rapidly and harder and harder with every moment that passed. The sound of blood rushing through the basilar arteries near to my ears soon added to the eery tinitus and I was unable to hear anything at all except for my own terror.
My eyes began to shake, the door I was staring at seemed to move eratically around my field of vision as though it was floating, but not floating like a cloud, more like floating like a frenzy of bees, individually they may be floating gently but overall the impression is of intense jarring movement. Was the door moving because it was opening? Is it … opening? It is opening!! Is the burgalar opening it? Is that …. what’s that? Its a head peaking around the door! Where is the door, it’s moving again. Where is the intruder, I can’t see, I can’t see, I need to shout, I must shout.
My mouth, open the whole time, managed a sound like “nnnAAAAAAAHH-nnnng”. It sounded a lot like a donkey and it wasn’t nearly as loud as I wanted it to be. I could definatley see that there wasn’t a shape at the door (any more?) and was a little more cretain about where the door actually was.
By now some time had passed. I was still feeling the terror but there was an overriding thought which had been forming over the little time I had been awake. I wasn’t able to ignore the thought anymore.
I was experiencing sleep paralysis
. It was not a sobering thought as you might imagine it to be. I was still frozen in place, unable to hear, unable to see clearly, but the thoughts were gaining much needed time to sink-in. I was gradually becoming aware that the rushing sound was dying-down and my vision was becoming clearer. The loud din was becoming barable.
From my position on the bed I was able to piece together what I had really seen.
The door had not physically moved at all and a mirror about a metre to the left of it showed a reflection of a pile of laundry which could be mistaken for a head peeping around the door if only the mirror was closer to the door (or the door was closer to the mirror). I know the security of my house. All doors and windows have burglar bars and it would take a long (noisy) time to get in. And the dogs in the garden were still sleeping soundly having not been bothered by a burglar passing through.
So, as mobility slowly returned, I started thinking about how this could affect a supersitious mind. It isn’t unusual for a person to “see” their greatest fear being realised when they are in this state. Because I don’t fear ghosts or alien visitors or witches, these were not the things that I saw. I saw what I could believe to be a real threat.
It is easy (as a sceptic and as someone who has experienced this) to see how
- a believer of all things extraterestrial could have experienced a terrifying visit from aliens whose “ray gun” had paralysed the victim
- or how a believer of demonic posession / witchcraft might have experienced a demon / witch sitting on them and terrifying them
- or how a believer of ghosts and phantoms might have seen a ghostly image materialise and haunt them (perhaps delivering a message to leave that place – although I would probably have had to ask them to speak-up over the roar).
History is filled with these proofs of these beliefs from personal accounts of night-time visits from these beings. I hope that makes you think carefully the next time you come-across “proof” like this again.
Or maybe, like me, you will marvel at the human brain and the experiences that we construct for ourselves, then turn over (now that you can) and return to your more ordinary nightmares.