The Second Side

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When you stop believing in coincidence, paranoia is only a heartbeat away.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Those Damn Demons

Finally got to see "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." I was anxious to see this film when I first heard of it, as I knew it was a dramatization of the attempted exorcism of Anneliese Michel, who died when medical attention was withheld during the ritual.
When I was a kid, one book I constantly borrowed from the library was "Mysteries of the Unexplained," a Reader's Digest book. It covers everything paranormal (up until about 1980, that is). I found a copy in a used bookstore a few years ago, and I still enjoy thumbing through it once in a while. One of the stories in the book that always haunted me was a short article about Anneliese, and I remember how tragic it seemed that this girl died in the grip of Satan.
Anyway, I told you all of that to tell you this: there was a scene in the movie——very well done and very scary, by the way——that brought back a chilling memory for me. Go lock your door and read on:
One night, about 6 or 7 years ago, I was in bed with my wife, and I woke up, unable to move. I could move my feet and hands and head, but it was as if metal cuffs restrained my legs, arms and neck. I felt a heaviness on my chest, as if someone were sitting on it. Indeed, at first I suspected that one of our cats might have been curled up there, but the cats—perceptive creatures that they are——were nowhere to be found. I struggled against my invisible bonds, but I was pinned to the bed. Oh, and no, I was not asleep. I have 34 years experience in sleeping and being awake—I know the difference. I began to panic, a state of mind I rarely experience. My hands and feet fluttered around helplessly. I tried to lift my head, and I felt something pushing against my mouth. I attempted a scream, but all I could manage was a muffled "mrrrrgh!" against the invisible hand muzzling me. It was enough noise to wake up my wife, and when she shot up awake, the spell was broken. I caught my breath, and didn't sleep so well for the next few nights.
I can't tell you what caused it, whether it was some odd brain activity or dark forces. All I know for sure is that it happened and scared me silly. One thing I did realize afterward is that what I experienced was a drop in the bucket compared to what poor Anneliese had to endure. I would guess that people under such a strange influence don't much give a shit what's causing it, they would just like it to be over.
If you have a similar story, I would love for you to share it.


Blogger Dave said...

During sleep your brainforces a kind of paralysis of your extremities. This allows you to dream comfortably without acting out what it is you mind is doing. You can test this out by trying to move a sleeping person without waking them, even a little. Light as a feather, stiff as a board.

There are several resets that you go though during your sleep cycle. On occassion your mind can be awake before this state has been lifted. If any one has ever been in a dream, realized it's a dream and tried to wake up you'll have an idea of the experience. I for one have experienced the shock of this with the added trouble of not breathing. The panic you experience during this makes it even harder to recoup.

Thankfully this doesn't happen often, but often enough for people who study sleep to know about it.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

Interesting. I've studied the sleep cycles before, mostly in psychology classes. Are you talking about a complete paralysis of the extremities? Because my limbs could move at the elbows and knees. Indeed, I could even arch my back, as I did trying to escape the sensation. It was as if metal collars restrained my wrists, ankles and neck.

The only point of contention I have with this theory is that I was not asleep. I realize in the original post I said that I "woke up," but to be honest, I can't remember what happened right before it began. I have trouble going to sleep, and it's not unusual for me to lay awake in bed for a long time before dropping off. I do remember that it wasn't very late at night, maybe 11 or 11:30 p.m.

I'm aware of the sensations you describe, although usually I'm trying to stay asleep in the dream, not wake up (these dreams usually involve winning the lottery, Angelina Jolie, etc, ha). This is a very interesting phenomenon. There have been many times where I feel myself withdrawing from a dream as I wake up, or have my eyes fluttering awake even as the dream still plays out.

In this case, I was fully conscious and well aware of my surroundings. I remember straining to look at my wife, who slept on her side with her back to me. I watched her the whole time until I finally got my pitiful scream out, at which point she sat up awake and I could catch my breath.

Don't misunderstand me, though. I'm not insisting on a supernatural explanation for my experience, only that I have no doubt I was awake when this happened.

(okay, I had to repost this comment because of this fucking word verification. It would be nice if these psychedelic word jumbles could actually be deciphered by the human eye. Just sayin')

3:49 PM  
Blogger Davis said...

Dave, are you one who studies sleep? Just curious. You seem to have some knowledge. Or did you see "The Craft" one too many times....HA!

I didn't realize that brainforces was one word....

Dave, are you a musician????

11:11 PM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

How many rum and cokes did you have last night??

10:03 AM  
Blogger Steph said...


I'm really glad that you posted about this. About 5 years ago, whenever I would nap and sometimes when it was just a normal night, I would wake up, but be unable to move my body. I've gone back and forth about if these are dreams, or if they are reality. I feel like I have to mentally FIGHT to get my body to move. It's a scary scary experience and I even went to a doctor for it. Because it is SO real. He told me to go to a pychiatrist, and that guy told me to go to a doctor. So I was just passed off. Now if only happens once in a while, but only when my sleep is in nap form. I hate it though. I feel paralysed. So what davis was saying, kinda makes sense.

Have you ever read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard Feynam?

He talks in that book about how he conquered his dreams and was eventually able to wake up when he wanted to and completely control his dreams. But he never felt rested. It would be an interesting read.

Now I've got the willies again. I'm never taking a nap again.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

That's strange in that it only happens when you nap, even stranger still that neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist could explain the conditions Dave described above.

I haven't read that book, although controlling one's dreams is a very attractive idea . . . heh, heh.

I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't take a nap once in a while. My incident had never happened before, and it's never happened since, so I haven't thought much about it, really.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

I know, naps used to be my crack.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Tree said...

It sounds like sleep paralysis. I experienced it once and found it quite scary. About ten years ago, I awoke feeling similarly pinned, aware that I was not dreaming/sleeping, yet unable to move. I also experienced an auditory hallucination in which I believed I was somehow communicating with a friend of mine. He later told me that I had done no such thing, of course. It felt supernatural, though I'm fairly sure it was not.

In Mexico they call this subida del muerto which means the dead getting on top. In Japanese it is kanashibari, meaning bound or fastened in metal. I believe it's also been called a visit from the Old Hag in Europe.

word verification: hhsish
(one of the sounds the Nazgul make)

7:08 PM  
Blogger Davis said...

Light as a feather stiff as a board is a chant from "The Craft".

Anyone? Bueller?

7:15 PM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

Tree: Maybe the "dead getting on top" thing is the cause for the no-nudity requirement for married couples in Egypt. Oh, and your word verification looks more like something the Nazgul would smoke. Ha.

Davis: I get it now. I've never actually done that trick before, but I've heard it works.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Tree said...

lol @ Nazgul smoking hash. They might've left Frodo alone in that case.

word ver: sxecbj
(damn, that was almost dirty)

1:23 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

Tree - Thank you for the link!

And yes, dead on top does sound kind of...well, wrong.

Frodo: Open up guys, it's Frodo.

Nazgul #1: Frodo's not here man...

8:26 AM  
Blogger Steph said...

Oh my goodness, I read around and it sounds like exactly what I experience. It's in medical journals, so why would a doctor not know about it?

I found the wikipedia site informative.

And they talk about the heaviness in your chest, Jimmy, like you were talking about.

It's just so interesting. They say it happens more frequently if you disrupt your normal sleep paterns (like sleeping in, or naps).

Everything makes sense!

Now, how to get rid of it?

8:35 AM  
Blogger Domingo Cardona said...

Ive been experiencing these since i was about 7 or 8 years old.The first time this happened to me It was morning and my mother came in my room to wake me, only she didnt know I had been trying to wake up for about 5 minutes but it seemed like hours I seen everything as if my eyes were opened but they were closed.she opened the door looked right at me and said get up its time to go to school, but the whole time I was yelling at her to wake me up. Finally I pried my arms from underneath the blankets, and woke up. It was a nightmare and I didnt start to figure out how to make it a little easier to wake up for a couple of years after that but i did have a lot of episodes during those next couple of years.But I think they stop duringmy teenage years and returned again in my late twenties.I noticed if I slept on my back It would happen so I stopped sleeping on back, also If I was really exausted and found myself nodding out on the couch this also happens, sitting up mind you. anyways I also remembered one of the episodes I had when I was kid.This was different from all the rest and ive never had one since.I was trying to wake up as usual and could see the whole room as i was struggling trying to move my arm I finally got free as i sat up still looking at my arm i had freed I noticed something, my arm was still on the bed it was my spirit I was looking at I was so spooked that I closed my eyes andlayed back down and then I woke up.well this is the first site ive ever run into that people have the same thing as me. I am going to be 40this year and I dont know if or when this will ever stop.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This just happened to me, causing me to google the phrase "trying to wake up".

The question is... could you see? Could you open your eyes?

6:47 AM  

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