Artist Illustrates What It’s Like Living With Exploding Head Syndrome
Even though exploding head syndrome (EHS) may sound like a made-up disease from some sci-fi movie, it’s actually a real condition not many people are even aware of. According to a paper by Achim Freese et al, the condition is categorized by “attacks of a sudden noise or explosive feeling experienced in the head occurring during the transition from wake to sleep or from sleep to wake.” And to educate people about what it’s like living with this condition, Swiss artist Lulu created an informative comic detailing her own experiences.
The artist had her first EHS attack back in 2017, the same day her grandmother passed away. “As you see, I was in a lot of stress because I knew she would pass, and after my granddad passed away two months earlier, the burden was even more significant. That was the cause of my first attack,” says Lulu.
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“It was the morning of the weekend. After waking up early, I decided to drink some water and go back to sleep because why not. My boyfriend was sleeping as well. I went back to bed, closed my eyes, and knew I would fall back asleep pretty fast,” Lulu described the first time she experienced EHS. “This time was different as I suddenly could feel how I was falling asleep. It was a scary feeling, but I didn’t think much because, as I said earlier, I suffered from sleep paralysis as well, so I thought I’m going to have an episode of that. But then I started hearing noises, it sounded like pure static, electricity and it got louder and louder till I heard a loud exploding like doorbell-bang. So loud, I wanted to scream. But I could not.” Lulu couldn’t move her body even though she felt awake. She says she felt a terrible pain in her head and electricity in her back and legs and thought she was having a seizure or a stroke. After about 20 seconds it was over and Lulu could finally scream for help.
“My boyfriend was looking at me with half-open eyes, asking me what happened. I panicked and told him everything. The sound I’ve heard came directly out of my head. So I was sure that something was happening.” said Lulu.
An hour later, the artist called her doctor as she couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something wrong only to have them laugh at her and call her crazy. “That was also the last time I went to that doctor because it was not the first time that she didn’t take me seriously,” explained Lulu.
“After having multiple EHS attacks and keeping this all to myself because I was afraid that another doctor would call me crazy, I went to a Neurologist, which helped me with my migraine. He asked about my sleep, and I told him everything from those weird attacks I was having. He sent me to a sleep specialist in the same hospital, which listened to my story and asked me many more things,” said Lulu. She felt relieved after the doctor told her she’s not crazy at all and was actually suffering from EHS. “He was pretty excited about it, telling me he would like to monitor me for a night EHS is rare, and it’s even rarer to catch an attack on a monitor.”
Although Lulu didn’t have an attack the night her sleep was monitored, she was glad to know what condition she had that it’s nothing worse. “Getting a diagnosis helped me with losing fear, which, in the end, helped me fall asleep better! Since I lowered my stress, I’m doing much better!” explained the artist.