At 8 years old, I had my first experience of true terror, when I awoke to a man at the end of my bed. This man was definitely not my brother. He was a luminescent figure. No distinguishing features, just a glowing silhouette of light. I was frozen with fear, I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. I could only sit, paralyzed with my eyes wide open from the confines of my bed. He never advanced, only stood and observed. This opened a whole new world for me. From poorly done Hollywood horror effects, to a tangible figure. My level of fear catapulted into full on paranoia. This man appeared to me on several occasions. Sometimes not for months, other times for nights on end. It seemed the more he visited, the closer he would get, until finally felt him upon me; suffocating and choking. I tried to talk to my parents, but of course, no one believed me.
That was 30 years ago, in 1984. We did not have the Internet. Pretty much unless you had access to scientific journals or others who knew about certain conditions, people were left to themselves to figure out what was happening to them. As an 8 year old child this catapulted me into curiosity, and utter terror.
I also discovered later into my 20s, by accident, a condition called sleep paralysis. I was watching Montel Williams one day and these people began to talk about figures at the end of their beds, sometimes advancing on them, terrifying them. The paralysis that set in, and how they discovered they only had sleep paralysis. For once the illuminating man at the end of my bed made sense, or did he?
While my experience didn't quite describe something horrific like any of the creatures I'm about to mention, as I got older my experiences did seem to change. My non-descript figure became something much more sinister.
One particular night I recall laying in bed with my children's father. My arms around his body, and facing his back, I was awoken to a humming. I opened my eyes and across the room, a masquerade mask I had hanging on the wall suddenly came nearly nose to nose with me. Terrified I laid there eyes wide staring directly into the eyes into the single most terrifying thing I have still to this date, have ever seen in my life. It was a man with a beard and gnarly twisted expression grinning at me. His eyes were so stunningly blue they were nearly white. His pupils were pinpoint, and he appeared predatory and ready to cause harm much like the way a wolf looks at his prey before going in for the kill. He was so intense I felt as if I would have a heart attack.
I tried to shake my boyfriend and scream, but nothing happened. My muscles failed me. The more terrified I became, the less I was able to do. I squeezed my eyes shut, but I could feel him there. I have never in my life been more terrified than I was in that moment. I honestly feared for my life.
- Incubus (nominal form constructed from the Latin verb, incubo, incubare, or "to lie upon") is a demon in male form who, according to a number of mythological and legendary traditions, lies upon sleepers, especially women, in order to have sexual intercourse with them. Its female counterpart is the succubus. An incubus may pursue sexual relations with a woman in order to father a child, as in the legend of Merlin. Religious tradition holds that repeated intercourse with an incubus or succubus may result in the deterioration of health, or even death.
- Succubus is a female demon or supernatural entity in folklore (traced back to medieval legend) that appears in dreams and takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual activity. The male counterpart is the incubus. Religious traditions hold that repeated sexual activity with a succubus may result in the deterioration of health or even death. In modern fictional representations, a succubus may or may not appear in dreams and is often depicted as a highly attractive seductress or enchantress; whereas, in the past, succubi were generally depicted as frightening and demonic.
- The "Old Hag" was a nightmare spirit in British and also Anglophone North American folklore. Folk belief in Newfoundland, South Carolina and Georgia describe the negative figure of the hag who leaves her physical body at night, and sits on the chest of her victim. The victim usually wakes with a feeling of terror, has difficulty breathing because of a perceived heavy invisible weight on his or her chest, and is unable to move i.e., experiences sleep paralysis. This nightmare experience is described as being "hag-ridden" in the Gullah lore
Many experiencers report feeling drained or exhausted the day after an episode.
ISP is usually attributed to Incubus, Succubus and The Old Hag because the victim doesn't typically understand whats happening to them and because of sheer numbers, are less likely to be candidates for having paranormal experiences (assuming that paranormal occurrences are rare). Much like myself, with RISP the individual can suffer back-to-back episodes of sleep paralysis in the same night, which is unlikely in individuals who suffer from ISP.
"Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking. Sleep paralysis may accompany other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is an overpowering need to sleep caused by a problem with the brain's ability to regulate sleep."