I've fainted five times in the last four years. The most recent episode was, by far, the most vivid because of how much worse I made my own situation worse. I went inside my room because I felt as if I were going to faint. I knew what happened when I felt that feeling of extreme sudden fatigue. But this time, I knew something was different. I felt as if when I fainted this time, I wouldn't wake up. So, I kept trying to stay awake and conscious. This triggered a seizure after I came back to full consciousness. But since I've consulted with doctors, they've determined it was not life-threatening or of concern.
As I was walking towards my bed, I could see light surround me. The only thing I could see was my bright hands. I made it onto my bed, where I struggled to keep my head up. According to the Vasovagal Response on wiki, you are supposed to either fall to the ground or simply lay on the ground to return blood quickly to the brain. The moment before I lost consciousness, I was panicking on the inside. I couldn't yell for help because that would cost too much energy. I felt as if I was going to die, and I kept thinking to myself, 'Something's wrong. This can't happen. I'm only twenty.'
I feel this quote from the 1990s film 'Jacob's Ladder' explains this moment better than I could:
'The only thing that burns in hell, is the part of you that won't let go of your life. Your memories, your attachments, they burn them all away. 'But they're not punishing you,' he said. 'They're freeing your soul.' If you're frightened of dying and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But, if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth. It's just a matter of how you look at it that's all. So don't worry, okay?'
I was scared to die. Only after what I think was a brief moment, I felt a presence telling me that it was going to be fine. Just let go, everything will be OK. I accepted death. I felt my memories I was holding onto being burnt away. Then I felt this incredible feeling of love and peace that overcame me. I knew what I was giving up and as a college student, it really wasn't much. After I let go, I felt as if the things I was holding onto were trivial. There was no pain. I was able to get just a glimpse of what dying feels like, and it was the most peaceful thing I have ever felt. I lost my sense of self and felt detached from my body, even as I was walking towards my bed. In that state, gender doesn't exist anymore. That was confusing for me.
Since this was only a syncope episode, I was only unconscious for perhaps a second or two. I believe this explains why I only saw the initial light, but nothing further.
Date NDE Occurred: 8/20/15
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? No 5th syncopal episode- unconsciousness Illness, trauma or other condition not considered life threatening
My fifth syncopal episode. I went unconscious.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? No
I lost awareness of my body
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal It’s hard to say. It felt amazing, but it only lasted a brief moment.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I was losing consciousness at a steady, but slow rate, throughout my episode.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
I just felt as if there was no way time could exist in that realm.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? No
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Only saw a too bright light.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I can't recall.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Unearthly light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? An unusually bright light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes I felt it crowd my vision on earth. It was due to the lack of oxygen in my brain. But the moment I lost consciousness, I felt as if the light was different; not earthly, but very bright.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Peace and love
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about myself or others I think a lot about death now. Whenever I see someone walk down the road, I think to myself 'You're just a soul like me. Like everybody- you just don't know it yet'. I believe we all go to heaven now, and that perhaps each of our 'ladders' will be a different experience. But in the end, we humans are all one.
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No Actually no, I kept trying to hold onto my memories and meager achievements. Although, I cannot remember which ones, or if I was holding onto my life more than my past events.
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Moderately important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Protestant I go to church when i visit home and actually believed people of all faith go to heaven. Did not attend church regularly.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain Some aspects of Christianity have changed, such as the idea of hell.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Protestant Im entirely skeptical about the idea of hell now. I would also say i'm more tolerant now.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience. More recently, i have been thinking that when we die, the same nothingness that existed before we were born will simply continue when we die. That the brain creates consciousness. Now i was a Christian and wanted to believe in heaven, and to some extent i did- but i had my doubts. My experience convinced me that consciousness exists indefinitely.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I no longer believe in hell, and know that heaven exists and is waiting for me.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes Unity is a great word to describe it.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God definitely exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No No specific information
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain I feel like no one else around could possibly appreciate the beauty and significance of what I saw.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes I felt secure in the fact i would be taken care of in the next life, but since the experience im still wondering what our meaning here on earth is.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife probably exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes Even though all i saw was light, and i had only been unconscious for a brief moment, the peace and hyperreality i felt was enough to convince me that when Meister Eckhart said 'God is at home, it's we who have gone out for a walk.', it was very true.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are possibly meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Yes I felt like our difficulties and hardships here on earth are so temporary. I just want to go up to terminal patients and tell them that the next life is infinitely better than earth.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes Felt unconditional love
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? It’s only been 8 days, but I think a lot about death now. I don't feel scared of it anymore- I feel assured. A few days ago those two reporters in Roanoke were shot on live television and my first emotion was horror at first by the screams of the female reporter, then envy for the peace they were both experiencing after they died. I know for sure that they are in a better place.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes Express my inability to express the experience in detail?
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Can’t really pick out one part- it was too brief.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Only one of my friends online- I'm too embarrassed to talk about it with friends or family. Not friends because I don't want them to think I'm crazy or depressed, and not family because I don't want to give my mother an aneurysm.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I had read Dr. Eben Alexander's account before (and after) my incident, but the second time I read it I felt much more comforted because he was telling me what happens after that initial light I saw. (Although he did not lose consciousness slowly, but suddenly.)
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real Since it is only day 8, I can see that compared to day 1 in which I also had a seizure that messed with my memory, my belief that the experience was definitely real keeps getting reaffirmed as I read more and more accounts of near death experiences.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real See above
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes I have fainted four previous times in the last 4 years before this episode, and the reason this episode was different, was that I was alone. No one was there to hold me up or keep me on the floor from standing up. I kept trying to keep my head elevated this time and it intensified the experience. My first two syncope episodes, I was leaning on something, and fell to the ground, losing consciousness immediately, both times. I do not recall anything after bright (but not heavenly bright) light crowding my vision and that's it. The other two times, people kept me standing upright, keeping me just far enough away from risking losing consciousness.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I want to go back to the line from the doctor in 'Jacob's Ladder', because it is so true, at least in my experience. 'The only thing that burns in hell is the part of you that won't let go of your life. Your memories, your attachments, they burn them all away. But they're not punishing you' he said. 'They're freeing your soul. If you're frightened of dying and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But, if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth. It's just a matter of how you look at it, that's all. So don't worry, okay?' Now, as a history buff, I'm basically, required to read about Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, and the main talking points about such prominent characters are their deaths. I picked these two men because I can’t think of many other men who have achieved so much on earth, undoubtedly filled with the most significant memories. Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were both men with egos bigger than the sun, yet their experiences of death reflect the song/movie perfectly. Like many others, who become gravely ill, Alexander had a long time to make his peace. He had conquered the world and had no heir. He had to make peace with that (giving his ring to Perdiccas). Before he died, he was asked one last question, ‘to whom will you leave your kingdom?’ Alexander responded 'To the strongest', and closed his eyes and breathed his last breath. Caesar on the other hand, a man who had once wept at a statue of Alexander because he felt as if his accomplishments on earth paled in comparison to someone much younger than him, had a very different experience. He did not have time to make his peace. He was put into a nightmarish scene, where he saw his best friends tear apart his life and his accomplishments as he fell to the ground- just like devils in Jacobs Ladder. It is said, that once on the ground and stabbed ~23 times, he was still conscious enough to pull his toga over his head to hide his face, not yet ready to die.