Once upon a time, the Fringe team was called upon to help a homeowner who felt she was experiencing paranormal activity. This woman was very thorough; she had logs and journals and pictures. One group of photos that stood out to me was of a mirror she had found on the property. “Every time we take a picture of it”, she explained, “this weird symbol shows up.”….
Ok, I don’t know about you all, but for me the more a piece of evidence can be reproduced, the less likely it seems to be paranormal. This is my quandary with sleep paralysis.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, a couple summers ago I took a “haunted vacation” with my mom to Florida. Of course we went to the St. Augustine lighthouse, which was fantastic. But the most memorable place we went to was a little town called Ybor City. We had booked a room at the Don Vicente Inn, aka “Hotel Hell” because of its alleged paranormal activity. We took a ghost tour of the city (highly recommended!) and the tour actually ended up in our room. I was exhausted from the day when the rest of our tour-partners left us, but also all hyped up from the alleged hauntedness of our room. A murder-suicide! A ghost of a nurse that appears in two different forms! Electrical malfunctions in the TV and keyless locks!
After a little TV watching, Mom and I settled down to sleep. I turned the TV off because there were claims that it would turn itself on for no reason. It seemed like I had barely dozed off for a few minutes when I felt like something dark was holding me down. In my mind I saw what I thought looked like the witch from Snow White when she offers up the poison apple and somehow I knew it was the ghost nurse in her older form. I was paralyzed and terrified and felt like I could barely breathe. Finally in my head I yelled “Get OFF me!” and slowly she evaporated. I woke up and knew I would not sleep again until the morning light. Trying not to wake my mom up, I turned on the TV (claims be damned!) and just waited out the rest of the night.
Speaking of TV, one of my favorite guilty pleasures is Celebrity Ghost Stories on the Bio channel. After my experience, I started noticing that probably every third episode has a celebrity whose ghost encounter sounds very similar to mine. They were pinned down to their bed by a dark spirit. After they awoke and “escaped”, they felt like they had battled evil itself. Sometimes it happened in their own bed, sometimes it happened when they were away, but the basics were always the same.
So now the paranormal investigator skeptic comes out in me. This seems to be happening way too often for it to truly be a supernatural phenomenon. I had heard of sleep paralysis before. In easy terms, it basically happens when your brain is not quite synced up and half of it is still asleep while half of it is awake. We’ve all heard that when you sleep your body goes into a type of paralysis so that you don’t jump out a window or something if you’re dreaming about that. In an episode similar to mine, the theory is that your body is still being pinned down by sleep paralysis while part of your brain is aware of your surroundings. And according to my research, for whatever reason, that pinning down feeling seems dark and evil and suffocating.
Sleep paralysis has happened to me two other times in my life that I can remember. Once as a child, I felt like a large dog was on my chest, holding me down with his paws on my shoulders. I knew he was just about to snap my face off right before he faded away and I woke up. For some reason I also knew it was a Dalmatian and I’ve had a deep-seeded distrust of large dogs ever since. It happened to me once again when I was in my late 20s after I had watched the ghost kid in Three Men and a Baby over and over again. That time I was absolutely, positively certain Satan himself had been trying possess me. It was only by the grace of God that I had gotten away.
One thing is for certain. Sure, there is a scientific theory for this phenomenon called sleep paralysis. But if you ever have this happen to you, you will swear it is real. Obviously all those celebrities do. I, myself, am on the fence.