Over on Slacktivist one of the comment threads meandered its way toward the topic of sleep paralysis and the experiences many of us have had with it.
I related an anecdote about one of my more disturbing experiences with this phenomenon.
In fact, I actually wrote about it back when it happened as part of a crappy short story, and was just reading the account the other night, so I might as well share it here:
But, since none of it had happened, there was no promise, and now he dozed on the couch, dreaming that he was thinking about that dream as he dozed.
Then, in his dream, he woke.
She was there, he could feel her presence. He wanted to get up off the couch and go to her, but he couldn’t open his eyes. He couldn’t speak. He had no strength in his limbs to move.
She had poisoned him, hadn’t she? He was dying on the couch as she was gathering her things and leaving him.
He was there, too. He could smell his cheap cologne.
He had asked her to choose, and she had chosen him. She was leaving him to die here.
“Why?” he asked, his voice no more than a whisper. “Why?”
She was kneeling at the end of the couch by his head. He felt her arm on his chest, felt it slide up under his chin as she embraced him, felt her cheek pressed against his. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I had no choice.”
He felt a tear running down his cheek. Was it his, or was it hers?
And as he lie there dying, he considered the years they’d spent together, how she had loved him but couldn’t allow herself to admit it, and how he had stood in the way of their love for so long.
Once again, he woke saying, “What the fu...?”
So, yeah. It was a weird one. The couch, I firmly believe, had a lot to do with it – everyone who slept on that couch had fucked up dreams; we referred to it as haunted, but I think it was just traumatized. I’ll write about that some other time.
As for who She, the woman I believed had poisoned me, actually was? No idea.
Anyway, after mentioning that experience, I went on to talk about how there are times when I’m just getting into bed, or drifting off to sleep, in which I hear a voice that’s entirely in my head but seems to be auditory.
Usually the voice – it tends to sound like either my mother’s voice or my sister Kim’s voice – says my name, or some other word. Other than my name, the word I most commonly hear is “don’t.”
In response to that, some of the other commenters threw out some theories, and I mentioned that there’s something else that happens more frequently, but which I would have difficulty explaining. I referred to it as the “snap, crackle, and pop in my head.”
However, another commenter actually identified the phenomenon, both the voice and the snap, crackle, and pop in my head, as Exploding Head Syndrome, and cited from the Wikipedia entry describing it.
So it’s an actual thing. I’m pretty jazzed to learn that a. It happens to other people besides me and b. It doesn’t appear to be dangerous.
The Wikipedia entry refers to an article on Brain Zaps, which, in combination with the Exploding Head Syndrome, also sounds exactly like what I experience, though the claim is that it’s related to withdrawal from antidepressants, or the use of Ecstasy, neither of which applies to me.
Too bad there isn’t an actual application for this phenomenon: I could join the Legion of Super Heroes as Exploding Head Boy.