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Violent Sleep Terrors

by Kimber

I have had three episodes of sleep terrors in the past eighteen months. I remember all three very clearly. The first one happened when I had family staying over. I think I may have scared them away for good.

In my dream two men had broken into our house and were attacking me and my husband. We were both fighting them off and I was screaming. I heard my husband scream "oh God, they are trying to kill us."

In reality I had been having a night terror and had been screaming in my sleep. My husband was shaking me and trying to wake me up. He became my attacker and to this day I am still not sure when my dream ended and I became fully awake. It all felt very real to me. It took awhile for my husband to convince me that it was just a dream and had not really happened. I lost my voice for a week and was terrified of the dark. I remember everything vividly and still sleep with a night light as I wake up frequently in a panic and it helps to be able to see all is well.

The second time I woke up as it was beginning. I somehow was able to pull myself out of it. I think the night light helped as I could see that no one was there. I lost my voice for a week again as of course I was screaming. But my husband did not wake me up this time as I had not been screaming as long as last time.

The third time was a year after the last episode. It was very similar to the
first time. I was screaming and fighting off my attacker. My husband finally was able to wake me up. But I fought much harder this time and I hurt him. I was in shock and could not stop hyperventilating. Anyone who has had these knows what I am talking about. I was in shock, just like the first time. Lost my voice for a week and was heart broken that I had hurt my husband.

After that I started doing some research. I learned a lot. The most helpful being that you should never try and wake someone having a night terror unless they are hurting themselves or others. My husband and I believe that his trying to wake me up intensified those two episodes and made them worse. So the next time (and I pray there isn't one) he will not wake me up and will try and wait it out. Then maybe I will have no memory of it like most people claim. I think the memory of my attacker is in reality just my husband trying to wake me up.

I still have minor episodes of suddenly jerking awake cause I think I hear something. I sleep with the light on and hope that someday I can turn it off. But right now the dark suffocates me and I feel panicky when the lights are out. It's embarrassing and humiliating going through this, as people who have not gone through it do not understand. My husband is very understanding, having had a sibling who had night terrors growing up.

I don't know if this will help anyone, but it's nice to know that you're not alone and you can get through this.

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