I was fourteen or sixteen the first time I had a visitation. I didn’t see him the first time it took a couple of years, for some reason He slowly introduced me to His physical form. The first time I had just laid my head down on the pillow. I swore it was only a couple of minutes after I put my head down. Later when I was married I would know how fast it happens there’s no time to actually fall asleep and start dreaming, my husband was witness to this and validated how quickly it happens. Yes, I was very tired that night that’s why I was able to deny what really happened I figured it was just a really bad nightmare.

In the beginning, I thought it was a reoccurring nightmare but it was so real, and I would come out of the paralysis with my eyes open. Who dreams with their eyes open (apparently lucid dreamers might do this but I digress)? Because of my age at onset I began to wonder if I was experiencing Schizophrenia. I had heard Schizophrenia often presents itself in the teens or young adult years. I tried to tell my parents the first time but they just shrugged their shoulders unable to comprehend what I was experiencing, and like most parents minimized my experience to help relieve my fear and anxiety, thinking all the while it was just a nightmare. So, from my teens into my forties I had accepted that it must be some weird reoccurring terrible dream.

In my thirties, I had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. About a year after the diagnosis I began to have a really bizarre symptom. The first time I was up in my attic office. I had gone up there to grab something. It was in the middle of the day, the attic stairs are very steep and can be precarious on a good day. This wasn’t going to be a good day! Just as I was going to go back down the stairs I began to feel as if my body was uncontrollably rolling forward I felt like I was going to just tumble down those stairs and immediately sat on my butt. The stairs to the attic come up the center of the attic, at the top you can go right or left with a U-shaped railing around the hole where the stairs come up. At the top of the stairs, where I was sitting, there is only about three feet from the top step to the wall, which I was now pressed as tightly up against as possible because every three or four seconds I would feel like I was rolling forward toward the stairs and was helpless to stop it. I wasn’t paralyzed but I didn’t feel in control. For the three or four seconds, I would feel like I was rolling forward then all of a sudden that same snapping feeling one gets when the Hat Man suddenly let’s go, and I would be right back pressed against the wall, then I would start rolling all over again then snap. I kept feeling like I was on the edge of falling down those stairs but I was pressed against the wall. I began sweating profusely and panic set in I was stuck and could barely crawl to one side to try and get away from those stairs. I had a phone up there but who to call, a neighbor friend lived across the street but the doors were locked how would she get in anyhow? I don’t know how long I sat up there but eventually I had to go down those stairs, there was no other way. So I took a deep breath and kept telling myself it’s just mind over matter. I went down those stairs on my butt clinging to the railing like my life depended on it, sweating and on the verge of tears the whole way. I had to do the same going down the main stairs but they were less steep. This was the first time I began to have this symptom. I immediately went to my neurologist, and at first, they thought it was some sort of atypical MS attack so they put me on steroids and eventually it stopped. Later when I began working as an interior designer it started happening on a regular basis at work often starting around 10 am very suddenly then eventually it would stop around two or three in the afternoon. I had to go to luncheons, meetings and construction sites, having this symptom all the while feeling like I would fall down every few seconds, trying to look normal, trying not to show the fear and anxiety that was on the inside. It was difficult to reach out with my arms or just walking was terrifying, but I had to do it and I didn’t want my coworkers o employer to know. I needed and wanted this job. I had responsibilities and if I couldn’t do the things I needed, well then why keep me. I kept complaining to my neurologist who recognized this as a potential sleep disorder called Narcolepsy. Interestingly this doctor had asked me if I had ever felt paralyzed when I went to sleep. I didn’t tell him about the Hat Man but I told him I had these scary dreams where I got paralyzed but my eyes are open, and he explained that’s called sleep paralysis and I was lucid dreaming. In other words, the narcoleptic can go into REM, or the dream state, while still awake. I’m dreaming with my eyes opened seeing my real world and dream world at the same time. He explained about the paralysis. The doctor said when normal people begin to dream a chemical is released that paralyzes the body so the dreamer won’t get up and walk out into the street and get hit by a car (sleep walkers have the opposite issue; the paralysis isn’t working). For me the chemical gets released before I’m asleep and I begin  dreaming at the same time. I got tested and was so narcoleptic they didn’t have to do the last nap study and sent me home early from the test. Weirdly Narcolepsy is typically a hereditary disorder and there is not one person in my immediate or extended family with this problem…hmmm.

I had finally found a scientific diagnosis for the Hat Man, Sleep Paralysis with the same reoccurring nightmare. The good doctor explained away the daytime issues at work saying it was atypical cataplexy connected to my Narcolepsy. Cataplexy is a condition where some Narcoleptics will suddenly fall down when experiencing sudden strong emotions like being startled by a loud noise or seeing something really funny and laughing suddenly. The person with Cataplexy will just crumple to the ground completely unconscious for a few seconds and then will come to. The doctor told me I had atypical Cataplexy because I never actually fall down although I know I’m unconscious, but it’s so quick like a strobe light that I come back right before I fall. And it’s never connected to any strong emotions. It’s exhausting when it happens every few seconds on then off on then off for hours. It sucks when it happens and is terrifying but I accepted it and was relieved that there was no real entity just Narcolepsy… or so I thought.

A year or two after I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy my husband and I were watching a show on Nova about Narcolepsy. The woman was from Briton and began to talk about her sleep paralysis and how she was tormented by this strange guy in a wide brimmed hat and long jacket. I froze and got goosebumps as she described my exact experiences. My husband and I decided it was just a weird coincidence and we didn’t have home computers then so we blew it off. Then a year or two later I was watching a show on a real live haunted house where the family was so afraid they left the house one day and refused to go back with all their belongings still inside. It was foreclosed and the bank couldn’t sell it so there it sat years later. There was a woman who had been a child when they lived there and she was taking a camera crew through the house describing the hauntings then she got to her old room. She began to describe a man who used to come to her all the time and terrify her… He had a wide brimmed hat and long jacket… all black… no face. I ran to the computer that we now had and typed, hat man, and to my utter disbelief hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have seen the same man with a wide brimmed hat and long jacket. How can we all be seeing the same man, and if it’s narcolepsy, how can that be scientifically explained. Maybe the sleep study for Narcolepsy is really just showing people who are astral projecting. Maybe many of us are astral projecting all the time at night while we sleep and the Hat Man wants to experiment with us or siphon energy from our fear like Monsters Inc.