Awake But Not Aware

I remember the first time it happened, it was like it was yesterday, since then… it’s been irregular and continuously terrifying. 

The first time it happened, I was away from home with my family in Gran Canaria. It was me, my younger brother and my mum, we’d just settled down for the night, my brother and I were in the twin bedroom and my mum on the sofa just 4 meters away. I’m not sure what time it was or what we did that day, but I do know that it was felt just as real as anything I’ve ever experienced my life awake. It was like I was asleep in my head, but my conscious was partially awake living in the real world, it was like purgatory. It was then that I saw it – to this day I’m not 100% what exactly it was but it looked like a spider. I’m sure you’re thinking a spider, that’s nothing but it was there and it was the size of the wall. It was there – in my head – this 3m x 4m spider. So I screamed… I screamed louder than I ever had before, which at some point had woken up my brother who instinctively started screaming along with me – he didn’t know what was going on, maybe he thought there was danger. I jumped out of bed and ran to the door where my mum was standing, (I mean it’s no surprise that two screaming teenagers had woken her). I said ‘I need to get out of here’ and I could hear the desperation in my own voice… the fear. As she stepped out of the way I moved quickly over to the sofa and sat down, looking around the room as my brain caught up with my conscious realising it hadn’t happened, there was nothing to be afraid of. Even with that realisation, I still slept on the sofa that night.
The next morning, I could barely remember what had happened, it started to come back to me when my family asked me about it, when they told me what had happened.

That was only the beginning.

To this day – 6 or so years later I don’t know what it is, I don’t know what triggers it, I don’t know how to stop it and I don’t know when it will happen again. I’m writing this today because it happened again, only last night – but I’ll get to that soon.

If I’m remembering correctly, the next time it happened it was early morning before college and my alarm was due to go off – I know this because as soon as it did I screamed and ran out of my room towards my mums bedroom. She was awake but hadn’t yet gotten up, I sat on her bed and as my brain caught up I asked ‘Why am I here’, I couldn’t remember getting there. In the moments that follow these… let’s call them episodes, I can’t remember it. It takes a few hours, or for someone to remind me before it all comes back. Now, I can’t forget it.

From here the timeline gets a bit messy, so I’ll just mention a few episodes that have stuck with me.
Screaming aside, I went through a phase of something that resembles sleepwalking – only I was awake, but not consciously there.

The only person who ever witnessed this was my twin brother, he used to stay up passed everyone else and watch TV in the living room until early hours of the morning. I’d go to bed, and suddenly I’d be downstairs, eyes open, sitting on the sofa opposite my brother. I’d stare blankly at the TV, feeling his presence but barely interacting with him. Then I’d go back upstairs and back to sleep – the times that this happened my brother told me about it the morning after. After it happened a few times, I’d become subconsciously aware that it happened, but not conscious enough to stop it. So one night I’d ended up downstairs watching TV again, then my brother looked at me, and I subconsciously said ‘I know I’m here you know…’ and went back upstairs.

I didn’t know I was there… I didn’t remember any of it.

When I moved away from home for university I moved into student accommodation. A few times I’d wake up thinking there were spiders on my bed, I’d jump up and run for the door, only then would I pull myself back to reality when trying to open door and then there was once that the weekly fire alarm test went off and I screamed.

Then fast forward a few year I met my current partner, and I’d failed to mention any of it, I just hadn’t happened for so long that I thought it was over, I thought I was free from whatever was holding me back.

So the story goes, we were visiting my family, and staying in my brothers room – he was in my mums room and she was downstairs on the sofa. We were asleep and somehow I caught a glimpse of the eagle painting my brother had put painted onto the majority of his bedroom wall and I lost it. I screamed and ran; waking up my brothers, my partner and my mum. I came back to reality when I was at the top of the stairs, my mum standing at the bottom looking up at me, my brothers and my partner standing in the doorways of the bedrooms. All eyes on me…

If my memory serves me right, there hasn’t been another big episode since that one… until last night.

It was a pretty standard night, we’d went food shopping and watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead, and while my partner went to bed I played a few games of Call Of Duty before heading to bed and watching two episodes of One Tree Hill on my iPad before going to sleep.
Then about 4 AM I came back to semi-consciousness already in the middle of an episode, kicking violently and screaming I felt trapped, stuck to the bed. As soon as I managed to get free I ran to the spare bedroom and just stood there, waiting for whatever was happening to stop. When I returned to the bedroom my partner was sitting up, waiting, and the duvet was all on the floor. I remember him saying ‘That hasn’t happened for a while’ – In the end I found out that it was him, keeping me down, restraining me in a sense, scared that I would end up at the top of the stairs – or at the bottom of them.

So as another episode passed totalling 6 years since the first one I still have no idea what triggers it, what it is, if it will ever stop and what caused it in the first place. So instead I live in fear, fear that one day it will happen again and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop it.

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