Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Descartes' Skin

Last night I had nightmares of bloated, spiked animals with long legs. They crept slowly around my bed. Rather than let me see them, they lurked at the edge of darkness. Yet somehow I knew they had marsupial like joints and long forelegs that jutted out beyond their abdomens. Not pretty, I can tell you.

Being awake at the time was a bit of a bugger too.

You see, once in a while, usually when I'm over tired, I experience Hypnagogia. Which according to wikipedia is "vivid dream-like auditory, visual, or tactile sensations, which are often accompanied by sleep paralysis and experienced when falling asleep or waking up."

I experience mine about an hour after dropping off, just as I'm getting into a deep sleep. I wake up suddenly in the midst of a dream which carries on regardless in the real world. Sometimes I see beautiful geometric light shows. Most times however, I wake in a panic because there are beasties in the room with me. Imagine Naked Lunch, the David Cronenburg film. This is about as close as you'll get to seeing my dream-wake madness.

If I slept alone this wouldn't be an issue as my hypnagogia lasts only a few seconds. I'd be left with a thumping heart, adrenalin and sweats to work off. Nothing more sinister than that.

The problem is, I often wake up in Indiana Jones mode as my first instinct is to protect Miche. She's usually fast asleep beside me. In the time its took to realise I'm dreaming, I've screamed "MICHE, GET OUT!" and lunged at the creature to try and throttle it before it gets to the family.

The first few times this happened Miche crapped herself. Who wouldn't? Besides, the sight of my bare arse flaying round the room after shadows isn't particularly reassuring at the best of times.

Thankfully it's a very rare occurrence these days. Perhaps once or twice a year I get them. Miche has learned how to help me come round more quickly, and is always calm and motherly to me. There's nothing better than a cuddle to calm the Indie down.

Now, I've researched this phenomenon quite a bit, as you could probably imagine. Thankfully I've found that it's not some kind of psychosis. Neither is it pathologically sinister. It's just one of those things and more common than you might imagine. Mind, I do get odd looks sometimes when I tell people about them. Which is why I don't often tell people about them.

For all I'd rather not have these night terrors, I do think they've helped me in my work. I use them as a basis for imagining what it must be like to live with hallucinations. And I can tell you this; I have the highest admiration for anybody who has a real 'psychosis' who actually gets out of bed in the morning and tries to live an ordinary life.


Anonymous said...

I have a hard time waking up from dreams and do similar things that you do. I will sit up in bed in a horrible fright, frantic and I don't recognize my husband for a few seconds until he tells me to calm down it's me your husband! lol, weird....

I never sleep walk tho, I just sit up in bed.

stuart said...

I have similar night terrors. Absolute fear squeezes my heart in a vice like grip as the beast rampages around the bedroom.

Then I realise it's just the wife going to the toilet.

You just get the nightmares twice a year, I have to live with mine!

jamon said...

I assume Jo won't read this Stu ;)