Night Terrors

I have been known to be a sleepwalker. And a sleep talker. And a sleep singer. And a sleep screamer, but that was only a long, long time ago.

When I was a little girl, I used to have nightmares and wake up screaming. It was only this past year that I learned that this is something called night terrors. I can't remember these dreams that caused my screaming, only I know that one involved a bear being in our bathroom and another involved monkeys, torches, a cave, and my grandma.

Of course, I would scream and my parents would come running into my bedroom to find me safe and sound and soiled. Finally my father lost patience and yelled at me (I don't remember this). He told me to never, never do that again.

And I never have. At that time, if a bad dream woke me up, I would go to my parents' bedroom and kneel beside my father's side of the bed, and put my little face right up to his until he woke up. Of course, this would very effectively scare him every time he gained consciousness. He finally commented to my mother that he much preferred the screaming, but he didn't have the heart to forbid me to pursue this course of action.

The other side effect of my getting in trouble for screaming is that I have never been able to scream in my sleep ever again. I remember the first time it happened to me as a child. A fat boy was in my house at night and he was coming to kidnap me. He approached me and grabbed me and I tried to scream, but nothing came out of my mouth. He laughed and said, "You cannot scream!" And I tried, and I tried, and I tried. But I could not scream.

Since that time, with a lot of practice, I've finally been able to make noise. It's certainly not a scream, though. In my dream, I still find myself powerless to make noise at first, and then I try and I try and I try and... something... comes... out. I cannot even describe the noise in writing. It sounds like a very scary ghost moaning. Or maybe even a deaf ghost trying to approximate screaming. But it's not loud enough to be screaming. Generally, I make this noise until I wake myself up or some other person wakes me up.

Notable Times When I Have Made This Noise:

After my freshman year I drove home to Canada with a family from our ward. We stopped in a hotel one night. I shared a bed with the mom, and the dad and three other boys slept on the other bed or on the floor. I woke up in the middle of the night, aware that I'd been making That Noise. I hoped that no one heard and went back to sleep. In the morning, one of the boys said, "Cicada... you were... making... a... noise... last night." The entire family looked at me expectantly. The mother said, "I had to shake you till you woke up."

On my mission, I was always very good to warn my companions on our first day together that it was possible that during our time together, I would make That Noise (my psychiatrist in the MTC who threatened to send me home because I was a sleep walker told me to remember to warn my companions). My second companionship was a threesome with two great girls. We had to spend about five days in Rome at one point, so we were staying in an apartment with two other sisters. Of course, warning other people about That Noise wasn't something that I ever thought to do. My companionship slept in the living room while the other girls slept in the bedroom. I started making That Noise in the middle of the night until my companions woke me up. The poor unwarned girls in the bedroom were scared for the rest of the night and perhaps even scarred for life.

Thursday night. It was raining, and I sleep with my window open. As I was falling asleep, I was thinking, "This is sooooo nice, this pitter-patter of rain, I could really get used to thisssssssssszzzzzzzzzz." So I was asleep. For about half an hour. After a half an hour, I woke up, convinced that there was someone standing outside my window. I peeked, I was scared, and I went back to sleep. This situation repeated itself for the rest of the night. At about four o'clock, I woke myself up because I was making That Noise quite loudly. I really thought that there was a rapist or other scary figure coming after me. To make matters worse, The Boy wasn't home that night, so I was all on my own. When I woke up, panicked, at six a.m., I finally decided to stay up, because it simply wasn't worth it to try and sleep again.

And so there we have it. My night terrors continue, but I am unable to scream (and for the record, I also no longer soil myself). I guess what I really wonder is what would have happened if my father hadn't told me not to scream anymore. Would my neighbors have rushed to my rescue Thursday night?


FoxyJ said...

Sometimes I think Sophie has night terrors because she screams and moans in her sleep. I am apparently an active sleep talker, even though I don't realize it. Master Fob has had some very interesting conversations with me late at night.

Th. said...


Oh boy! Can I make a therapy suggestion? Practice screaming in your blog! I'll lead out--


C'mon, everybody! Join in! Make Cicada's blog a safe place for screaming!

daltongirl said...

I think what you need to do is have your dad command you to start screaming again. That should work.

If it did, would you start to soil yourself again, too? Hmm.

JB said...

Night Terrors, huh? I was just talking with Lunkwill about sleep paralysis. Maybe I'll blog about that one today. Maaaybe.

P.S. Are you going to the Fobcave Blowout? I hope to meet/see you there!

Limon said...

I am pretty sure that the people who brought us "The Ring" and "The Grudge" would be likely to consider making a movie about that noise. Have you ever tried to tape it? If so, have you ever been successful? If not, could you scare yourself into doing it? Because I really want to hear it. And, no, I don't think me spending the night at your house for the next few months is a viable option.

redlaw said...

Hmm...I used to get night terrors but instead of bears, mine involved a lion that was pawing at my door, trying to get in and devour me. To my knowledge, I just mumble in my sleep now.

Desmama said...

A few weeks ago I had a nightmare wherein one of my Laurels and I were creeping through her house to find an intruder. (Why do I do the dumbest thing in my dreams?) As I approached her garage door, it opened on its own, and my attempt at a scream came out as a moan. That might've scared the intruder off anyway.