I awoke this morning to the sound of someone wearing flip flops walking into my room. The sound was very clear and distinct. My fiance has been out of town the last few weeks so I am alone in the house. After several minutes of panic, I convinced myself I was hearing things and went back to sleep.  Next, I was dreaming and then awoke to someone in bed lying next to me (spooning me) I said my fiance’s name several times and the person put their leg over mine, pinning me and grabbed my hair pulling it firmly. I laid perfectly still for awhile until I realized I no longer felt the presence and then confirmed no one was there. I thought maybe I dozed for a second and the person must have gotten up and was in the house elsewhere. It’s now a few hours later and I am still in my bedroom.  As daylight is coming I am feeling safer. I am certain I must be hallucinating but it was SO REAL. I have never done drugs in my life and I am not on any medication except for 2 days ago I took 1 Zyrtec and used flonase for the very first and only time for allergies.  I saw an allergist about a week ago because of allergies and chest pain with shortness of breath.  I tested positive for the pollen allergies and do not have asthma. I suffered from PTSD in the past due to death of a child 7 years ago. I had hallucinations at that time where I believed I had witnessed my husband getting out of bed to answer the door and talking to people before coming back to bed.  When I asked him about it the next morning he said it never happened. Again, it was so real. I may have had a very small stroke about 15 months ago as I went for several days without being able to write my name though everything else seemed ok and I eventually was able to write my name again after several days.  I never saw a Dr. regarding that incident.  I am overweight and have slightly high blood pressure but do not take any medication. (age 55, from US)

A: I’m sorry that you are having these difficulties. I think the most important thing to do would be to speak to your doctor and have a complete physical exam. The stroke like symptoms are concerning and having high blood pressure is a risk factor.  Additionally, it appears that all of the experiences that you are describing as hallucinations occur during sleep or immediately upon waking. I would share this with your doctor as well because you might be a good candidate for a sleep evaluation. The cause could be psychological but it is always a good idea to rule out medical causes as well.

I’m sorry that you lost a child. It is a devastating thing to go through and I hope that you sought grief counseling (if not, it’s never too late).

Finally, I would suggest that you try to pray or meditate on something positive before going to bed and upon waking. Developing a bedtime ritual can help us clear our mind and feel safe, ultimately leading to better sleep. I hope this problem resolves itself soon.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts