I remember feeling lethargic that night, tired. And whenever it gets to this, I’d be like a zombie, walk like a zombie, lazy to do anything except eat, or watch TV, and get some nap while sitting on our bamboo chair, looking groggy. I was already sleepy but I remained stuck sitting and napping while the TV was on. Later, I remember opening my eyes seeing the Philippine National Anthem being played on TV which signified the TV station’s closing time, which was usually around midnight. So I turned the TV off, then brushed my teeth. Then I laid down my tired body to rest.
I remember looking at my cellphone, reading the old text messages of my ex even if my eyelids were already drooping. I remember waking up from my brief sleep, sort of half-awake and I was wondering why I couldn’t open my right eye. My left eye could see but I couldn’t open it wide, not enough to see clearly what I was seeing, an image of my father carrying a bag telling me to sleep who then slowly walked away. I thought that was weird, why was my father holding a bag? And why was it I couldn’t see clearly, I could see the light from the outside which was our sala room since I do not close my bedroom door because I’m afraid of the dark, but how come I found it difficult to keep my eyes open. It was only a minute ago or so that I fell into a brief sleep.
I tried to rise from my bed even if I couldn’t see clearly but I felt something was holding me tight, holding me back, and I heard a very deep male-sounding voice, sounding demonic it got me so scared that I collapsed into my bed. I tried to move but couldn’t, I couldn’t hear my voice when I tried to speak, then, to shout. I heard nothing. I felt like there was an invisible being preventing me from moving, making me deaf or a mute, I don’t know. If I don’t fight it, I feel like I would die. So thinking it might be evil, I struggled to say the word “Jesus Christ, keep me away from harm.” I still couldn’t move, couldn’t hear my voice. I tried again and said, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” I still couldn’t move, couldn’t hear my voice I felt like somebody was on top of me while I was lying to my side, an invisible presence that I couldn’t see but could only feel.
This wasn’t the first time this happened to me so I tried that thing that I’d always do as my last resort: I screamed with all my strength until I could hear my voice. I heard my voice, thank God I could hear my voice and finally, I was able to open my eyes wide and saw the light from the sala room. Then I saw my younger brother, looking from the outside checking what the hell happened to me in my room. I told him the story that he has heard so many times, same scenario over and over again, but this time, I didn’t see a shadow coming over me. The time was around 1:40AM. Yes, this has happened to me before, oftentimes before at irregular intervals but it is only now that I did some research about it in the Internet.
There are various theories/ reasons why a person experiences bangungot or what doctors scientifically called as “Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome.” There is this “eating heavy meal/drinking alcohol shortly before sleeping” theory, “problems in the electric impulses in the heart” theory, “the acute pancreatitis” theory, and the “too much stress” theory. Reading each article seems valid, seems true, particularly because they came from medical experts or a scientific study. One said that since I survived SUNDS, what happened to me could only be called as “sleep paralysis.” The info I got, though you may not believe it, perfectly describes what I am going through when experiencing what they called as “bangungot” or at times called “sleep paralysis”:
“Sleep paralysis is not unique to the bangungut syndrome. It is a common and ancient sleeping disorder attributed to demons and malevolent spirits, characterized by a feeling of immobility, being pinned down by an invisible force, unable to move and unable to scream for help. Inevitably, it becomes embellished with the creatures of culture and superstition.
Sleep paralysis usually occurs at the threshold of wakefulness and sleep, hypnagogic when one is falling asleep, hypnopompic when one is waking up, with the accompaniments of falling sensation, chest pressure, and presence of shadowy creatures.”
But my high school friend had a different take about my experience. She talked about the power of our subconscious even when we are asleep.
My friend said it could be that my body was already shut down, asleep, but my subconscious was not. That was why when I tried to get up and struggled with it, and heard a very deep male-sounding voice, what I thought I heard was demonic, like as if he/it didn’t like what I did, she said that was me, moaning, who was physically asleep but subconsciously awake. My friend advised me not to sleep when I’m stressed or so tired. There has to be first a “cooling down” or rest that I have to do before I lie to bed. It’s possible that I’m bothered about so many things, stressed about so many things. She cited one extreme example of a girl who suffers from bangungot but I forgot the whole story because it was so shocking, maybe because the story wasn’t applicable to my case. My friend also mentioned about the possibility of “possessions” because when we are asleep that is the state where we are the most vulnerable and defenseless. So she advised me to pray before I sleep. Praying is one way to “cool down” my tired spirit.
I’d like to admit here that yes, I am sleep deprived and have irregular sleep schedule. I told my friend that I forgot to pray that night.