Q: I started dating my boyfriend about a month ago. We had been friends for a few months before we started dating. The first night I EVER met him, he told me that we are approaching the end of times and we need to ready a militia for the support and well-being of our friends and family. He suggested we get a warehouse and live/prepare for our impending doom. I thought he was very wierd for coming up to complete strangers (my brother knew his brother) and telling us (me and my boyfriend at the time) that the world was going to end and he wanted us to start buying guns and hole up in a warehouse with him. As the weeks went by and I spent more and more time with him, I realized that he did this speech with everyone he meets and passed it off as an endearing mannerism. I ended my relationship with my former boyfriend about a month before we started dating because he was unfaithful. Previous to the relationship, the former and current were acquaintances/friends. He intrieged and fascinated me to the point of infatuation and we are now in a relationship. He suffers from a sleep disorder called “sleep paralysis”. If you are unaware, this disorder causes visual and auditory hallucinations and a feeling that a menacing presence is in the room. It also will cause paralysis so intense, that the victim has to be violently shaken or smacked to awaken. When I started spending the night with him, I saw him go through episode after episode of this terrifying disorder. (usually 2-5 a night, 5-6 nights of the week) He would tell me about the “dreams” he was having after I jarred him out of the paralysis. They were all extremely scary or sad. He told me he talks with a demon (that he believes is completely real and can only communcate with during the paralysis) and the demon takes the form of his brother and myself. He has never gone to a sleep study, and refuses to, so he can’t take anything to prevent it. This disorder I think is a major contribution to his notion of impending doom. He is SURE the bible prophesies are coming true (revelations) and is convinced we need to get off the east coast asap (as it will be the major target of the attacks from the East) He still talks about making our own army to protect ourselves from a government that will crumble to ashes within the next few years. I truly care about his man and am concerned that he may be suffering from an untreated disease. His delusions have not effected his life to the point of devistation, but he is convinced we have got to move for fear of a tsunami, nuclear bomb or the government finding out we know what they don’t want us to know. My question is; Could he be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia? Or is there a way I can convince him to seek proffesional help without downplaying his paranoid notions? I appreciate any and all help or insight you can give on the subject. Thank you
A: I am by no means an expert on sleep paralysis but I do know that it occurs just before falling asleep and just before waking. If he is experiencing this many times a night, it suggests that his sleep is terribly, terribly disordered. Restorative sleep depends on a sleep cycle that includes several stages of sleep. It sounds like the normal stages are being repeatedly disrupted. When that happens, people can start to have hallucinations and delusions and can look quite psychotic. This is the long way around to telling you that I don’t know if your boyfriend’s fears and apparent paranoia are a result of a severe sleep disorder or are symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. You didn’t say why he refuses a sleep study. It would certainly be sensible for him to do so as it could help determine what is going on and what could give him some relief. Perhaps those who know him best can find a way to convince him that a sleep study will do him no harm and may, in fact, do him a great deal of good. I can’t imagine that he likes the experience of such frequent episodes of sleep paralysis.
I wish you both a good night’s sleep.