My nickname as a child was Dolly Daydream, now I know why!
Two years ago, at the age of 48, I went to my GP to finally ask for help for the madness I was told I had since I was a child. The previous night, I saw a man walking left to right at the foot of my bed. He was dressed all in black and wearing a balaclava. He seemed to be walking in slow motion and I tried to get up and shout at him but I could not move. I could think but I could not move. I thought that night was the night I was going to be killed in my bed! Then it stopped but I was so upset, I knew I needed to see a doctor.
Ever since I was a child, I have seen and felt things at night and during the day when I doze off. Usually, I floated above my body and looked down on myself, I can see and feel walls closing in on me, the bed rotates with me in it, massive big spiders or woodlice beside me, and I always heard noises, ringing, clanging, sirens, shouting, the list is endless. The doctor listened for 40 mins and it was the first time someone really listened and took me seriously. When I explained about falling when frightened or excited, he explained what it was and that I had normalised my symptoms as I had lived with them for so long. He sent me to a neurologist in Sligo who agreed with the diagnosis.
In the past, my tiredness was put down to my allergies, depression, M.E., chronic fatigue syndrome, I had chickenpox with strep throat and glandular fever with strep throat when I was an adult, I worked with children so picked up every bug going, so being tired was just part of who I was. When I spoke about my dreams and what I saw at night, my family did not believe me, told me I was attention seeking or I was told I was mad in the head, hence why I finally went to the doctor to get my madness treated. Even today, my mother does not accept the diagnosis, when I speak about the hallucinations, she thinks I am schizophrenic or a hypochondriac!
For the moment, I do not want to be medicated. I prefer to try to manage the N&C like I manage my allergies and M.E. I adjust my lifestyle to try to minimize the symptoms, eg, fasting, giving up carbs, naps when needed, gave up driving, good sleep schedule and try to manage stress levels. Now when I have hallucinations, either visual or aural, with sleep paralysis, I no longer feel frightened, I know what it is and that it will pass. My dreams are very vivid and do wake me up and if I have a bad night, I take it easy the next day and allow myself to rest or sleep. I know now I am not lazy or incompetent, I am not mad or making it up.
Having a supportive doctor has been great, as is my son, he sees me at my worst and tells me it is ok to sleep during the day. I have cut back on the amount of things I used to do and by taking it easy and taking more care of myself, I notice the hallucinations are not as frequent.
I have had to cope with sexual assaults when I fell asleep in a taxi and at college, when mugged I had cataplexy and was kicked in head when I couldn't move to give him my handbag, I was in an abusive marriage which brought on cataplexy and he would continue the assault when I couldn't move, I have missed train connections and been late for work after falling asleep on buses, I fell asleep numerous times while driving, luckily nothing bad ever happened, the list is endless of the many incidents of N&C that I had, which now make sense to me.
After 40 years of trying to cope with life, work, exams, motherhood, etc through a haze of tiredness, I now put myself first and try not to feel guilty about it. My nickname as a child was Dolly Daydream, now I know why!