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Bruce and Viced Rhino: My Worst Sleep Paralysis Hallucination Ever

sleep paralysis
Cartoon by ViperFish

I have periodic episodes of sleep paralysis. They have become more frequent as I have gotten older and my health has declined. Web MD defines sleep paralysis this way:

Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking. Sleep paralysis may accompany other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is an overpowering need to sleep caused by a problem with the brain’s ability to regulate sleep.

Sleep paralysis usually occurs at one of two times. If it occurs while you are falling asleep, it’s called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. If it happens as you are waking up, it’s called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis.

What Happens With Hypnagogic Sleep Paralysis?

As you fall asleep, your body slowly relaxes. Usually you become less aware, so you do not notice the change. However, if you remain or become aware while falling asleep, you may notice that you cannot move or speak.

What Happens With Hypnopompic Sleep Paralysis?

During sleep, your body alternates between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. One cycle of REM and NREM sleep lasts about 90 minutes. NREM sleep occurs first and takes up to 75% of your overall sleep time. During NREM sleep, your body relaxes and restores itself. At the end of NREM, your sleep shifts to REM. Your eyes move quickly and dreams occur, but the rest of your body remains very relaxed. Your muscles are “turned off” during REM sleep. If you become aware before the REM cycle has finished, you may notice that you cannot move or speak.

I had my first episode of sleep paralysis as a teenager. My latest episode happened last Friday. I had a rough night the night before (a common problem with gastroparesis, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis). I had a hard time staying asleep due to leg pain, muscle spasms, and nausea. I spent the night falling asleep, waking up, falling asleep, waking up — and that’s with taking multiple medications for pain, spasms, and insomnia. Some nights, these medicines don’t work very well.

I got up at 2:00 pm, moved to the living room couch, and promptly fell asleep for two hours. Then, shortly before 4:00 pm, I had an episode of sleep paralysis — the worst episode ever.

Before falling asleep, I turned YouTube on our big screen TV. Viced Rhino (an anagram for young earth creationist Eric Hovind), one of my favorite atheist video makers, had posted several news videos, so I thought I would watch them. So I started playing the following video:

Video Link

Then minutes into the video, I fell asleep . . .

Viced Rhino invites me to a party at his house, a ramshackle one-story building. I drive there in a burgundy Chevy Lumina (a car we owned in the late 1990s). I arrive at Viced Rhino’s home and park in the gravel driveway. I walk into the home, only to find that the “party” is actually an audience for a taping of one of Viced Rhino’s videos.

After listening to Viced Rhino for a while, I decide to leave and go to a whore house (I am currently watching Underbelly season four — an Australian TV show featuring two underworld women in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the women runs whore houses.) So I walk out to the driveway, only to find my car is missing.

I am in a van with an attractive young woman. Suddenly, the van stops, the back door opens, and I fall out into a park. People are picnicking. I say to a woman, “I need to help.” “My blood sugar is low,” I say to myself. The woman gives me a warm bottle of Red pop.

I walk to a big town, going through a long, painted white cement tunnel, with adult entertainment businesses on both sides of the tunnel. (This part of the story reminds me of my visit to Underground Atlanta in 1976 as an eighteen-year-old boy.)

I stumble into a firehouse, asking a burly black fireman to help me. I tell him my blood sugar is low. Then, suddenly, I hear a banging noise in the distance (Polly is making lunch in the kitchen, 20 feet away) and hear Viced Rhino talking.

I started screaming HELP ME! This what I typically do when trying to come out of an episode of sleep paralysis. Of course, these screams sound like faint mumbles to those outside of my mind. Fortunately, Polly heard my “screams” and, as she always does, helps me to gently wake up.

I am trembling and speaking with a high-pitched staccato voice. It took me hours to gain some sense of normal. Polly was so worried for me that she thought about calling off from work — something she has never done in her 25-year career at Sauder Woodworking. Knowing that she already had one employee call off for the night, I told her I would be okay. I wasn’t, but I didn’t want her to miss getting her perfect attendance bonus.

I spent the rest of the night on the couch, only getting up to use the bathroom. This was the most terrifying experience I have ever had with sleep paralysis. Throw in Ambien-induced hallucinations — is it any wonder I don’t want to go to sleep? Sleep paralysis typically follows a sleepless night. Most of these terrifying episodes occur when I am lying on the couch or sitting in my recliner. While sleep paralysis won’t kill you, it can do a number on you psychologically. I was still having problems the next day.

I still love Viced Rhino, but I hope he doesn’t invite me to any more “parties” at his house. 🙂

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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10 Comments

  1. Avatar
    amimental

    Sleep paralysis happened to me as a child but I haven’t had it happen since I was about 7 or 8.
    It happens to my husband about every three months or so. Always freaks him out. Not that I blame him.
    He doesn’t usually remember the dreams/thoughts that happen, though.

    Also, can you prove you were NOT at a party?

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    Some of that dream doesn’t sound bad, but then it worsens. I’m so sorry that happens to you. I don’t think I’ve had it very much. I do remember the strange feeling of being put to sleep right before surgery and there’s a second or 2 when I’m aware I’m laying there and couldn’t move, but then I’m out. I hope you get better sleep soon!

  3. Avatar
    clubschadenfreude

    I haven’t had sleep paralysis, but every time I don’t have a snack before bed, my blood sugar takes a dive in the middle of the night and I have nightmares. such fun. I wonder if you could set some kind of a slowly rising alarm tone if a sensor could detect your vocalizations.

  4. Avatar
    Tam o’Shanter

    I use to have sleep paralysis when I was much younger. It is terrifying. I also watch Viced Rhino. He does produce good videos.

    Like you, I am also a former Evangelical. I did not leave and become a None, but instead became Mainline, which other than being accepting of LGBTQ+ people is in many ways closer to the non-denominational church in which I was rear. For example, while we had male pastors, my mother taught the mixed-sex adult Sunday school class, something that’d probably get you kicked out of today’s SBC. I don’t recall even once hearing about abortion or homosexuality in the church in which I was reared one way or the other. My recollection is that the sermons had more to do with being kind to our neighbors and our own need for repentance and not about what reprobates “others” not in the building are. Maybe that made me more open to Mainline Protestantism than one reared in a conservative Evangelical church.

    I read you from time-to-time and was hoping to read your take on the recent PRRI survey showing that people are leaving white Evangelicalism in droves and that there are now more Mainline Protestants, who are also six years younger on average than white Evangelicals. While I am not trying to be triumphant, it is satisfying to see those who blamed the Mainline decline on liberalism now finding their vaunted conservative theology lead to rapid decline. Anyway, any thoughts you’d like to share? Take care and hope you feel better.

  5. Avatar
    Kel

    I’m sorry you had a spell of sleepless nights and sleep paralysis.

    I used to have sleep paralysis when I was younger and most of the time it involved images of demons or malevolent spirits. I always tried to ward them off by calling upon the name of Jesus, but the best I could muster was some muffled scream before waking up drenched up in sweat.

    However, the weirdest nightmare I ever had was when I dreamt of being told by an angel that I was the Antichrist and I had to go to Hell for my sins. In hindsight, I think the worst nightmares I’ve had always involve Hell and eternal punishment of some sort.

    I hope you’ll feel better soon.

  6. Avatar
    Charles S. Oaxpatu

    I have had several sleep paralysis experiences. Mine are a bit unique, perhaps because I am naturally an emotionally high-strung and anxious person. (If you had grown up in my dysfunctional family, you would understand.) I have a powerful fantasy life that can consciously turn mere thoughts into experiential reality without that reality being actually real in this life.

    I tend to see weird apparitions and become a part of alternative realities during certain sleep episodes. In the short sleep paralysis periods, I see these frightening apparitions or see myself in a frightening alternative reality. This jacks my anxiety levels so high that I quite literally continue experiencing that apparition or alternative reallity in consciousness for about 15-30 seconds after the normal muscle paralysis phase ends.

    About 25 years ago, I was visited by a frightening, air-floating apparition during the muscle paralysis phase. At the exact moment when the muscle paralysis phase ended, the apparition merged with the chandelier over our bed. Thinking it was still there, I threw an object on my nightstand at the apparition, and glass from the badly broken chandelier began raining down onto my bed, scaring the living daylights out of both me and my beloved lying next to me.

    Two years ago, during the muscle paralysis phase of an afternoon nap, I actually became one of the actors in a nonexistent “NCIS: Los Angeles” episode and had to engage in a quick, James Bond-like physical maneuver (part of the dream) to prevent a sinister foreign agent from rushing into the hotel room where Hetty Lang and I were talking about an important case-related issue. The door to her hotel room was cracked slightly open, and my peripheral vision briefly perceived a man rushing toward our door. As he burst into the room, in a split second, I threw my entire body into him to stop him (extremely vivid like actually being there). This occurred at the same split second the muscle paralysis phase ended. In reality, I had fallen out of my bed onto the floor, while hitting my head hard on my nightstand, and was still physically grappling with the foreign agent without the agent actually being there. I had blood on my lips and had apparently been very loud and vocal with this episode. My beloved was awake in another room downstairs, and she came running upstairs—- agitated with fright—-to see what was happening to me. I had barely missed getting my throat cut by a sharp-edged plastic trash can that no longer sits next to our bed.

    My point here is simple. Some sleep paralysis episodes can entail dangerous consequences for one’s self and others sleeping, standing, or sitting nearby—-the split second the muscle paralysis wears off—but memory of the frightening dream experience lingers on for a few seconds. I discovered that the hard way. If you are known to experience sleep paralysis episodes of the same type as mine, I would recommend removing hard or dangerous objects within reach on your nightstand and anything dangerous on the floor beside your bed—-and avoid putting glass lighting fixtures on the ceiling above your bed. You could hurt yourself or someone you love by accident during one of these unusually vivid sleep episodes.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      And why should I care what you think, David?

      David wrote on his blog:

      “If you are going to leave then leave but leave the congregation and other people alone. Do not help destroy their faith as you let your faith be destroyed. Jesus’ story about the millstone warns everyone that it is not going to be good for those who do just that- turn people away from their faith.”

      I skimmed Mr. T’s latest sermon earlier today. I knew he was talking about me at the end of his post. David is obsessed with me — sorry, I’m heterosexual. Since he can’t win me back to Jesus, he chooses, instead, to inflict psychological harm with his frequent attacks on my character. There was a time when psychological rapists such as David Thiessen would cause me great harm and hurt. Today, I’ve learned how to deal with predators such as Tee, Daniel Kluver, JM Ballister, Tom Barker, James Makerfield and others. I now see how sorry and pathetic these men really are.

      As an Evangelical pastor, I would have counseled “Dr.” Tee to consider how his behavior on the Internet causes harm to the church and the cause of Christ. If he was a member of our church and refused to change his behavior, we would have excommunicated him.

      Tee sits at computer somewhere in Asia (South Korea, the Philippines?), unaccountable to anyone. He is no longer a pastor, just a raging blogger with a few self-published books. He hides his name and background. I wonder if he even attends church. Maybe he’s like AW Pink, an Evangelical evangelist and writer who couldn’t find a pure enough church to attend.

      I suspect, even today, I’m a better Christian than David Tee. I’ve never deliberately tried to harm someone else, as David has. Neither have I defended men such as Bill Cosby and Ravi Zacharias — both of whom committed sex crimes. Tee has defended both men, writing numerous posts defending Zacharias and attacking his victims. Simply put, David Tee is not a good man. He is not a good Christian.

      This is my last comment about David Tee. I will not approve further comments by him. Not one, David, so don’t bother.

      Bruce Gerencser

    • Avatar
      Michael Mock

      Why are you so desperate for Bruce’s attention, DDT? I know teenagers in the midst of Major Dating Decisions with less melodrama than you’re showing here. Yet here you are, trying to use negging on Bruce to get him to like you… while begging him to read your stuff.

      Have some dignity, man.

  7. Avatar
    William

    Yep, the David Tee’s are what I remember about Christianity, and why I had to get out. My deconversion soon followed. I think I would have deconverted sooner or later anyway, but who knows?

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser