September 18, 2019
I don’t remember the first time I screamed in my sleep.
This Is What Its Like Be Plagued By Severe Night Terrors As An Adult
Like most people who suffer with night terrors, I woke up after that first incident without any memory of what happened. Unlike most people, however, I wasn’t a little kid that first time. I was around fourteen when my mum told me that she’d heard animals fighting late into the previous night.
Neither of us had any reason to believe that the sound of crazed animals attacking one another was really me in the other room. In later years, my night terrors would be linked (by therapists, my mum and myself) to my phobia of spiders, academic stress and my dad’s illness. But none of these things were relevant at this point, and to this day, I’m not sure what caused me to scream into the night.
Since that night, I’ve had more night terrors than I can count, and, unusually, I remember many of them.
Around half an hour after falling asleep, I open my eyes, though I am not awake. I’m not in dreamland; I know that I’m in my room and I know, or I think I know, that I am in danger. What the “danger” is can vary. Often, I think that there’s a spider in the room, sometimes a rat and one time, bizarrely, a tiger. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling: a horrifying rush of adrenaline that forces me from my bed, screaming in a voice that isn’t my own. If I encounter another person, I’ll babble incessantly about the thing that’s in my room, until they calm me down enough to take me back to bed. Sometimes I realise that I’m having a night terror and go back to sleep.I was fourteen when my mum told me that she’d heard animals fighting late into the previous night. Neither of us had any reason to believe that the sound of crazed animals attacking one another was really me in the other room.I wake up the next morning exhausted. Sometimes I can recollect what happened perfectly. Other times, I’m like a blackout drunk trying to piece together what happened the night before, what I was running from, who I woke up, why this keeps happening.
The information on night terrors is limited. Even the trusty NHS website is aimed at concerned parents whose three to eight-year-old children will grow out of sleep disturbances without any psychological damage. The term “night terrors” sounds cutesy; a phrase likely to describe children dreaming of monsters under their beds. According to Healthline, around 6.5% of children experience the phenomenon compared with only 2.2% of adults.
Because of this, we weren’t initially too concerned. I was technically still a child, and though I’d never jumped out of bed screaming before, I’d always had what my mum called an “overactive imagination”. Peaceful, blackout sleep has always been a stranger to me. On my typical night I’d be naked in the school hallway or behind the wheel of a car I couldn’t drive.
But if my nightmares were 2D films, my night terrors were in IMAX, and they were only getting worse as I transitioned into adulthood. I’d wake up everyone at a sleepover screaming, hallucinating vividly, confused as to why no one saw what I saw. I once woke up in a wardrobe, another time, halfway up a ladder that was in my room. A month before university, I woke up outside my house in my PJs and wondered how I’d ever live with anyone outside of my family, how I’d explain this when I didn’t have the answers for myself. I’m now twenty, and while my housemates are understanding, I’m worried about how long I’ll have to keep explaining myself to new people.If my nightmares were 2D films, my night terrors were in IMAX, and they were only getting worse as I transitioned into adulthoodThe only known causes of night terrors are stress, anxiety and fatigue. But each incident only made these three things worse, plummeting me into a cycle of exhaustion and fear. The more night terrors I had, the more tired I was and vice versa. The more terrified I was during an episode, the longer I would lie awake the next night afraid to close my eyes.  Life was getting more stressful: my dad was sick, I was trying to do my A-Levels, but no matter how well I felt I was coping during the day, I had no control over what my mind would do at night.
I learned the hard way that mental health isn’t something you can put a pin in. After spending years ignoring how I felt, the fear that was building up was bursting out of me whenever it could. My mind and body had finally had enough and were letting me know about it every night.
But even once I’d confronted my fears — of losing my dad, of failing school, of the spiders that always made their way into our old house — my options still felt limited. Doctors refused to put me on medication, and while CBT helped with my day-time worries, it did nothing to calm me at night.
I always tried to laugh off my late-night adventures, but the joke quickly wore off. I was worried about sleeping at other people’s houses; I didn’t want to be seen in that vulnerable state, eyes wide, desperate to convince them that was I was seeing was really there. I didn’t know anyone else who experienced adult night terrors and even among the media’s ongoing conversation about mental health, night terrors were left out.Night terrors have no place in a conversation that only acknowledges a certain type of mental illness: the invisible kind that can be fixed by things like mindfulness and ‘me-time’Night terrors have no place in a conversation that only acknowledges a certain type of mental illness: the invisible kind that can be fixed by things like mindfulness and ‘me-time’. The conversation grounds itself in the idea that we all feel low or nervous sometimes, we all overwork ourselves or feel anxious at parties, that it’s good to ask for help. But this definition of mental illness is so narrow. What if your anxiety doesn’t have an understandable cause? What if your mental illness shows itself in an unpleasant, intimidating way? What if you’ve asked for help, over and over, and no one can?
I know that my issue isn’t the only one that’s been left out of the conversation. Borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, drug addiction and many eating disorders are also deemed too scary and unrelatable to be spoken about in an empathetic way. In an attempt to normalise mental illness, we have ignored what people who are suffering need the most: to be heard, to be understood and to be helped.
I don’t know why my mind deals with stress this way, and I don’t know how to make it stop. What I do know is that by talking about our experiences with rarer mental health issues, we can find comfort in one another’s stories and, hopefully, get closer to finding an answer.
Molly Greeves is a journalist and deputy editor of The Courier. Follow her on Twitter at @mollygreeves
Have a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on ukpersonal@huffpost.comMore from HuffPost UK Personal My Hysterectomy Was Meant To End My Pain. It Was For Nothing. I Lost Everything In My Break-Up. Here's Why I Wouldn't Change A Thing I’m A Muslim Mum. This Is What It’s Like To Explain 9/11 And Islamophobia To My Son.
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Kanye West Announces Presidential Run
July 05, 2020
3LvC9OKO_P4
Jada's Affair?, Charlize Ther-Wrong Name & Housewives Hitman - "Nightly Pop" 07/02/20 | E! News
July 02, 2020
ZcwG2INSVRI
Chance's Relationship Fail, $1K Haircut & Jen's Advice - "Nightly Pop" 07/02/20 | E! News
July 03, 2020
mPSzAABN4yI
Beverly Hills 4th of July Party a Breeding Ground for Coronavirus
July 05, 2020
jHPVAU82grw
Parade of Trucks with Trump, Confederate Flags Blaze Down L.A. Streets | TMZ
July 04, 2020
e9t3VLZ9-2w
Lucas Grabeel Says He Wouldn't Play Gay 'High School Musical' Role Now | TMZ
July 05, 2020
m3e1EGMseWc
'Succession' Composer Nicholas Britell on How He Crafted the Music of Season 2
July 03, 2020
xgJUmZgGHUI
Kieran Culkin & Dan Levy - Actors on Actors - Full Conversation
July 03, 2020
x1U65peRmGo
Emmys 2020: Issa Rae, Linda Cardellini Among Possible Contenders for Lead Comedy Actress
July 03, 2020
DnMulYkHAGs
Can Lea Michele’s ‘mean girl’ behavior be forgiven? | Page Six Celebrity News
July 03, 2020
Sp-hyaacIB0
Will the 'Ellen DeGeneres Show' be canceled? | Page Six Celebrity News
July 01, 2020
w6fF_hmLmw4
Candace Cameron Bure wants these ‘Full House’ quotes to live on | Page Six Celebrity News
July 02, 2020
PRF4fuEHuSM
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
05
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Roma
05
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Barcelona
05
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Southampton - Manchester City
05
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Aston Villa
05
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Bologna
05
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Real Madrid
05
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Brescia - Verona
05
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Genoa
05
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Sampdoria - Spal
05
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
05
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - Atalanta
05
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Osasuna - Getafe
05
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Espanyol - Leganes
04
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Watford
04
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Wolves - Arsenal
04
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - AC Milan
04
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Bournemouth
04
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Torino
03
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Mallorca
02
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
02
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Sheffield United - Tottenham Hotspur
02
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Udinese
02
Jul
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Getafe
02
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Napoli
01
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Spal - AC Milan
01
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Chelsea
01
Jul
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Norwich City
01
Jul
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Brescia
30
Jun
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Atletico Madrid
30
Jun
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brighton - Manchester United
30
Jun
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Juventus
28
Jun
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Roma
28
Jun
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Inter Milan
28
Jun
SPAIN: La Liga
Espanyol - Real Madrid
28
Jun
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Spal
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k tudKp5Vhs3k iwWHibhssSo kQr0XHPbICM 5NeCb7JxaRk
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.