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Night Terrors and Hallucinations

Old 05-10-2015, 06:13 PM
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Night Terrors and Hallucinations

Hi everyone,

I hope you're all well today. I was hoping to get some information or opinions about some things I have been experiencing.

To put it shortly, I relapsed for the second time the weekend before last, and drank very intensely for a week, culminating in a bottle of 1litre vodka in both of the last two days. I'm currently on day three, and needless to say, have the usual feelings of self-loathing, shame, and other symptoms of withdrawal. I've been experiencing something worse however, along with the insomnia (I've slept maybe one and a half hours in the last two nights).

I know the symptoms get better over time after previous bouts of success in not drinking, but these last two nights have been a private hell as I've been experiencing I guess what you'd call terrors and hallucinations.

On the first night, when I initially fell asleep for maybe half an hour, and kept waking up feeling a dark presence in the room. Later in the night (into the early hours of the morning), I managed to doze for a few minutes, but when I woke up, I was frozen, and standing next to me centimetres from my face Was what I presume was a woman (she was wearing an old dress), but I couldn't see above her stomach, as I couldn't bend my neck. Instead, I closed my eyes and tried to calm down, as I knew logically in my mind it wasn't real. Later as the morning was dawning, I was wrapped up tight in my blankets as I was shivering, with my head under a pillow, when I literally felt the blankets yanked off of my back - physically, and I think I heard it too. I was frozen in terror with my head under the pillow unable to move, before I managed to fight myself to glance back - the blankets were wrapped around me, and of course there was nothing there. The physical cold I felt from the blankets being yanked off gradually dissapeared after I saw they were still there.

Last night was different (I'm sitting here typing the morning afterwards). I didn't have any hallucinations, but the few times I managed to doze off, I would physically wake up violently with a shock pulsating through my body. As the morning approached, I managed to doze off for a bit longer, but instead would wake up in my dream the same violent way I had earlier, except in my dream something new would happen, gradually getting worse, and I would keep waking up more violently in yet another dream. The last one was one where I 'woke up', stood up from the bed in response to two loud knocks on the door, and upon opening it my mum was standing there, looking extremely haggard, and she lunged at my throat attacking me. I woke up properly after that, again with a shock.

You can imagine that after that I was terrified of falling asleep only to keep waking up like that, and I just lay there.

Anyhow, I apologise for the long-windedness and detail of my experience here, but I wanted to set out the specific things I have gone through the last two nights to see if anyone can help/shed some light for me.

- Is this normal? Who has experienced something like this?
- How long do they last? I'm literally terrified of tonight, not just because of the usual dread of insomnia, but because it will be filled with things like this.
- Is there anything I can do to combat them/stave them off?

Any help or sharing would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Seb.
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:16 PM
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I had a lot of sleepless night and some crazy/scary dreams early on too. And for me, WDs got worse every time. You might want to see a doctor if they aew affecting you to the point of worry.
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:23 PM
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I've experienced it but I wouldn't call it normal.

I second Scott's suggestion of seeing a Dr, Sebastian - just for peace of mind if nothing else?

D.
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:24 PM
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Hi Sebastian,

Yeah, night terrors are pretty common when going through detox. However, the first dream you mentioned sounds like a combination of both, night terror + sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I used to get sleep paralysis when I was a kid, so totally understand how terrifying it can be. You're somewhat awake, but none of your muscles are working, and you can't move. All the while, you're in the middle of a nightmare.

Then again, it could be a ghost. Depends on your belief system, but I believe in them, and without question know I had one in our place while living in Malta.
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:28 PM
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I absolutely have!!! Back in 2011 before I got sober. I was terrified of falling asleep too...I won't go into all the details except to say I checked myself in to Psych ward for the weekend at one point and took Seroquel for a year. (I also started hearing music and voices that weren't there (that was only for one day)That wasn't necessary. Turns out it was all due to drinking and withdrawal from alcohol. I believe that the beating myself up and self loathing contributed to it as well. I have been sober for three years now and have had absolutely no symptoms like that ever again.

I feel for you...I remember exactly how it was. Take comfort in that this is most likely "alcohol related". I would also suggest getting to a doctor to help you with the WD process.
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:37 PM
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I went through the exact same thing. I would see people either walking around or flying around in my bedroom. I actually saw a little boy standing at the side of my bed staring at me. I looked over at my door and saw a big guy leaning against the door just staring at me. I would look out my bedroom window and see a new park built. Well, it really wasn't there. These people and objects started threatening me. There was a lot more, but eventually I couldn't take it anymore and sat on my couch. I didn't know what I was gonna do, but I got lucky and someone got me into a detox, where I kept hallucinating big time. You wouldn't believe what I saw sitting in the ER waiting to get into detox. For me, it lasted three or four days. I would STRONGLY SUGGEST you get yourself into an ER asap. What your experiencing is definitely a sign that you are in really bad shape. I wouldn't play with this. John PM me if you want.
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:42 PM
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I had some really horrible night terrors the first time I quit. Won't go into much detail but usually I thought that I had not fallen asleep yet. A doc can help.

If you are having hallucinations seriously think about going to the ER.
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:48 PM
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I'd like to add that this experience never happened again. Definitely alcohol related. John
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Old 05-10-2015, 06:49 PM
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Hey, hope things get better for you as far as the drinking is concerned.

And yeah, interesting that you post about this because I have had the same kinda of feelings too when I was in the window space b/t having drank alot and sobering/detoxing in the past. The first time I experience something somewhat like that was about 5 years ago (when my drinking sincerely got out of control )

I'd think I'd be seeing things and when I did fall asleep I would jolt my body (like my leg or arm) and it'd wake me up but it felt like I was pulled or something)

-Come to find out that happens to people just in the midst of sleeping (since I'm kind of a light sleeper it'll wake me up). Some people don't.

Not gonna get into too much but yes, I know its a really eerie and worrisome feeling, trust me. That paranoid feeling is a headache and emotionally draining.

As you sober up it subsides (if its the alcohol and/or detoxing phase that caused it)

I take Melatonin to help me sleep (don't take it everyday). Worth a shot if you're having trouble sleeping.

Prayers to you
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:41 PM
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Thanks for your responses everyone - I'm relieved that I'm not the only one (well, not glad, I woulnd't wish it on anyone!)

I thought about going to the ER, but felt tremendous shame at the idea - at taking up their valuable resources for something so stupid I had caused on myself. I think however, that if it occurs tonight again, I'll submit myself to their care tomorrow.

That's an interesting idea Troy, with regards to the woman in an old dress standing there. I don't disbelieve in ghosts, in fact I've had some trusted family members tell me of their experiences with them, who would have no reason to lie about it. They don't really play any part whatsoever in my life though, I just don't ever think about or consider them. I don't think my experience involved one - I think it was just a hallucination from a very frazzled mind combined with sleep paralysis. I've heard them called night hags in some cultures? Why can't they ever be beautiful and comforting

Thanks again for your responses, I do promise to seriously consider the ER tomorrow should I have a third night of this.
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:54 PM
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I really would encourage you to go asap. Do not be ashamed, they are here to treat people and save lives and alcohol withdrawals can be fatal.
Please go.
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:58 PM
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Hi Sebastian.

Second the opinions on the doctor to get help with bad withdrawal. As for the weird experiences at night, yes it sounds like sleep paralysis. Have you seen this thread here on SR?
http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...paralysis.html

You can also read an overwhelming amount of into online about it.

I've experienced it since my teens with varying frequency. Intense stress and anxiety can trigger it effectively for me and also alcohol withdrawal. It is quite common in withdrawal from a few different drugs. One thing that happens is that when we drink routinely, alcohol tends to suppress the REM phase of sleep (when most dreaming occurs), and when we quit, it comes back with a vengeance for a few days. This, plus the typically fragmented sleep in the withdrawal state can lead to these weird half asleep-half awake experiences. Well, unless you prefer the explanations with ghosts etc

What I suggest is that you don't fight it. If you are able to realize that it's just dreams and relax, it may get much easier and less scary. You might just drift off and find yourself in a full-blown lucid dream -- some people actually like those (I do!). Sleep paralysis is totally harmless; in fact, we experience it multiple times each normal night, are just typically unaware of it because fully asleep.

I think that if you have not experienced these before / without drinking and withdrawal, it's quite likely it'll go away with a bit of time. If not, I would probably also talk to a doctor about it.
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:14 PM
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Thanks for your response Haennie. I've experienced sleep paralysis before on rare occassion, and am lucky enough to typicaly be able to realise very quickly in my mind what is happening and to calm myself until it fades - even in the case of 'the woman', I was thankfully able to not freak out entirely, and to just close my eyes and convince myself, despite the fear, that it would disappear. I've never experienced such violent disruptions though, such as the feeling of having my covers ripped off of me, or the physically shocking repetitive waking up. I have no doubt whatsoever it is connected to what I put my body and mind through with the alcohol, and hope tonight is more peaceful.

As for the controlling of the alcohol thing, I've come to realise from both of my relapses that they occurred after a prolonged period of not logging onto SR, or seeking out some sort of support. I'm not able to log on every day, but I do intend on logging on more often now .
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Sebastian84 View Post
I've never experienced such violent disruptions though, such as the feeling of having my covers ripped off of me, or the physically shocking repetitive waking up.
I've had these sensations/hallucinations many times with sleep paralysis, totally unrelated to alcohol as well (as I said I'm prone to it). Even wilder ones, like sensations of being on waves, vertigo-like feelings, or my bedroom door popping open and people or other creatures (sometimes many of them) coming in, making a lot of noise, talking to me, sitting on my bed, touching me etc etc etc. Lots and lots of weird stuff. I've experienced these states so long and so many times in my life that I've actually grown to enjoy them

Of course I would never relapse to have them more often. Yes if you feel you are not getting enough support or doing enough recovery-related things, definitely amp it up. All the best!
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:04 PM
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Those very likely be the DTs or Alcoholic Hallucinosis. Seek some help please.
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:44 PM
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I second what Carlotta is saying
Ironically, I work in an emergency department and I see people with these symptoms all the time who are withdrawing from alcohol. No one considers looking after alcohol withdrawal a waste of resources. I would seek medical advice, I really would as it can get much worse than hallucinations and day 3 is particularly risky.
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Old 05-11-2015, 06:26 PM
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Hi everyone, thank you for your feedback - it's very much appreciated. I just thought I'd give a quick update (and to distract myself with typing) on last night.

I found myself becoming very panicky, with my heart hammering hard and fast, at around 6 in the evening - I was very worried and just scared about the night ahead, about getting to sleep in the first place, and then what might happen if I did.

I went online and started researching natural remedies to assist in sleep and to calm oneself and read up a bit. Prior to going to bed, I took a valerian root tablet, as well as brewed up some chamomile tea (ended up drinking 5 cups, haha). I wasn't what you'd call serene, but it helped.

Anyhow, I still didn't manage to fall asleep until around 2am. I only slept maybe 4 hours, and woke up 6 or 7 times throughout, but I always managed to doze back off quickly, and more importantly, no night terrors .

Today is the first day I feel noticeably better, still alot of symptoms, but I'm going to head out to the gym soon to try and tire myself out, and hopefully make the body crave more rest tonight.

Thanks again all, I hope you're all well.
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Old 05-11-2015, 06:54 PM
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Thanks for the update. I was really worried. Happy to hear things are getting better. I also go to the gym. Helps me to get centered and calms me down among the other benefits. Just be real careful at first and drink a lot of water. Physically, you're still going through a lot. Enjoy your workout!!!! John
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Old 05-11-2015, 07:07 PM
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This sounds terrible! I have experienced these before as well I usually am able to tell myself that it is a dream and to wake up and I do! I turn a light on sometimes and feel a little better instantly. I hope these subside for you soon and you get to sleep tonight!
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