a shadow of a man in a dark room near a window holding a teddy bear

The Beanie Baby Burglar

If you are living with narcolepsy, by now, you have probably realized we have some pretty weird and strange symptoms, many that come out at night. I have always loved my sleep and been one to have some pretty vivid dreams.

But I remember experiencing my first hypnopompic hallucinations and sleep paralysis in the fifth grade, not long after I recovered from strep throat and mono back-to-back.

What are hypnopompic hallucinations and sleep paralysis?

If you don’t have narcolepsy, you are probably wondering what hypnopompic hallucinations and sleep paralysis are. Hypnopompic hallucinations are visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations upon waking up.

For me, these are often accompanied by sleep paralysis or the inability to move upon falling asleep or waking up.

Waking to a bang on the window

On the weekends, I loved watching Forensic Files before bed. Especially because during the week, my bedtime was before it came on. One night, I was watching Forensic Files as I fell asleep. Later that night, I woke up to a loud banging noise at my window.

As I opened my eyes, I could see a tall, slender man in all black sliding through my partially open window. This man had somehow managed to climb through my second-story bedroom window that had been locked!

The burglar took my Beanie Babies

I attempted to sit up and scream, but I could not move or make a single noise. I was frozen. He walked towards my bed, and I could feel him leaning over me; I think to check and make sure I was still asleep. He then proceeded to go around my room and take some of my belongings.

Most burglars take things of value, such as electronics or jewelry. Not this man. He took things like my Beanie Babies, Barbie dolls, and even some of my McDonalds toys. I wanted to scream and cry so bad, but I literally couldn’t.

Beyond confused in the morning

Somehow despite this terror, I managed to drift back off to sleep. When I awoke the next time, I immediately jumped up. I could move and speak just fine.

I then began to look around my room and noticed something very odd. All the items I had just watched this mysterious man take were still there. In the same places, they had been as if they had never been touched. I was beyond confused.

I knew it was not a nightmare

I ran into the kitchen and saw my mom making her coffee. I began to tell her what I had just experienced. She told me it was just a nightmare and to stop watching Forensic Files before bed. I began to convince myself that was what it was and that I had never actually woken up, but instead, I had just dreamed I woke up to that.

But the thing is, it didn’t just happen once that night. He came back many other times over the years, even when I did not watch Forensic Files before bed.

Finally understanding what was happening

It was not until my diagnosis that I began to understand what this was or why it was happening. Even now, 2 decades later, there are still nights he comes to visit. I may not have the Beanie Babies for him to take anymore. But he does still take odd things around my room.

Understanding what this is and being able to tell myself it is not really happening helps me to ease my mind and fall asleep faster or come out of it faster. I can’t say there aren’t still nights that these still terrify me, but knowing these are not real helps me understand and work through them much better.

Do you experience hallucinations or sleep paralysis? Are your hallucinations recurring? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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