The Beauty in Sleep Paralysis

Firstly, we’d like to introduce you to our brand new contributor, Natasha Meek, an up and coming writer in Leeds. With a natural flare and true passion for writing, you’ll she why she’s now a great addition to the VinyOctopus team!


‘Two things for me were unusual, as I opened my eyes and tried to sit up I couldn’t move an inch; it was like I’d been superglued to my bed. And the second thing, I wasn’t alone’

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Research around the globe suggests that most people struggle with sleep paralysis at least once in their life. Episodes of sleep paralysis can occur when falling asleep, or even as you wake, leaving one fearful and paralysed for a short amount of time. This is the nightly norm for one teenager from Leeds.

“I think for me, my sleep paralysis started around the age of 14. I was a pretty ordinary teenager on the exterior; inside I was a nervous wreck with awful anxiety and what I understand now to be post traumatic stress disorder after I was sexually abused through my younger years. Now it’s an experience that I’m used to each night I have it – it shape-shifts and is equally as terrifying as the first night. I remember going to bed as usual the night it first happened, tired from the day, but as usual with insomnia that kept me awake into the early hours. Sleep paralysis is when your brain isn’t yet asleep though your body is. Everything felt so horrifically real as though I had woken up in the morning ready to get up for school. Two things for me were unusual, as I opened my eyes and tried to sit up I couldn’t move an inch; it was like I’d been superglued to my bed. And the second thing, I wasn’t alone, he was there holding me down pressing down my chest until I couldn’t breathe. Now usually, in the real world if this happened you would kick and flail and scream and yet I couldn’t do any of these things. I just laid there unable so move, so sure that it was real I could almost smell his aftershave, tears rolling down my face, feeling yet again absolutely powerless until my mum woke me up for school me still crying and hyperventilating. Now I’m a little older I’ve come to realise why I have sleep paralysis, what it is and essentially how to break out of it. I still lay there in bed crying wishing and wishing that I could move; and that somebody could save me from this monster trying to wiggle my toes and fingers even the smallest amount to free myself. I’ve read a lot about sleep paralysis now and it’s common for some kind of demonic figure to be present, mine is no different; I’m just facing my own demons.”

Throughout history many artists have created unnerving artwork to help them deal with their sleep paralysis. One of the most famous artworks about this condition is The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, painted in 1871. Fuseli depicts a woman unable to move as an angry demon-like figure stands over her.


‘The Nightmare’ – Henry Fuseli, 1871

Nicolas Bruno is a modern day Fuseli who uses photography to portray his own episodes. Around the age of 14, Bruno began to deal with sleep paralysis almost every night. Speaking to Vice, he says that a teacher suggested he could ‘start sketching’ his intense hallucinations. Now, photography has become his ‘go-to’ in dealing with sleep paralysis; aiming to ‘create that sort of purgatory’ he feels.

Bruno’s work is a menagerie of dollhouses on fire, dark water and ladders which all combine to create a strange, whimsical place outside of what we know.

The media of photography allows Bruno to have full ‘curation of what goes into the pieces’. Considering that sleep paralysis is usually something he doesn’t have control over, this media allows him to regain power over his own torments.

Figures within his photos usually have their heads covered which acts as a visual representation of not only sleep, but as a reminder of his experiences with mental purgatory.

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Much like Fuseli and other greats, art remains a way to express our deepest fears and thoughts.

If you’d like to see more of Nicolas Bruno’s work take a look at his Instagram @nicoladbruno

Have you dealt with sleep paralysis before?

Let us know….

We just like to take this opportunity to thank all those while we involved in this piece. We are incredibly grateful for all their brutally honest testimonials


Breaking down the walls of gender


Fashion is truly ever changing. 27 year old, professional firefighter turned model, Rain Dove is at the forefront, challenging the concept of gender through clothing. It began simply from losing a bet with a friend in which she had to go to the Calvin Klein casting call. Rain was even more surprised when she got a call back as she’d been mistaken for a man.

She explains ‘not only did the cast me for a men’s show but it was for a men’s underwear show’. Not only did she decide to do it – she decided to do it topless!

This saw the launch of her career! However,she still faced a lot of rejection for her appearance which did not clearly fit into one gender role. Rain explains how the fashion industry tried to encourage her to be ‘more like’ the gender they were aiming their campaign towards.

However, due to Rain’s size, height and dimensions she does not typically conform to traditional men’s and women’s clothing sizes. Although she also refuses to change her body proportions or shave, which has resulted in her having to turn down some high-profile jobs. Im spite of this, it clearly hasn’t affected her career too greatly as she has still worked for huge industry names such as Elle and Vogue, without compromising her own identity.

However, this definite divide in gender within fashion could be coming to an end as designers such as Burberry and Julian MacDonald are now combining men’s and women’s wear in their shows. But through this Dove expresses that gender fluidity should not be a trend or a gimmick but designers should be actively trying to break down walls.


Personally, we have to take out hat off to Rain who is truly carving a path within the fashion world so that others can follow and not face the same hostility.

Let us know what you think…
Do you think clothing will ever be entirely gender neutral?

Is it cheating?


For gay men talking to other gay men online has never been easier. Through apps such ad Grindr, Scruff and hornet (just to name a few….and that really is the tip of the iceberg) a conversation with another gay guy is merely a click away. Because of this convenience and accessibility, the lines of what can be perceived as cheating have, for some people, become blurred, so much so that the question is often posed; is it actually cheating?

It’s a difficult one. I pose the scenario, for example, you have been talking to a guy on Grindr, it’s a bit flirty but you have no intention of sleeping with him. He might even send you photo but you won’t send one back. But like I said, you don’t plan on meeting up…so is it cheating?

I guess, one way to look at it would be how would you feel? Would you be fine if your partner were doing the same? But this has one crucial fault at the end of the day…your partner isn’t you! In fact they can be entirely different, opposite in every way. Just because you would be fine with them flirting wth others doesn’t mean it would be the same if the shoe were on the other foot.

Possibly, the only way to truly understand would be to ask your partner what they actually think. Find out from the horse’s mouth as it were. Then surely it couldn’t be misconstrued.

However, intent can also play a huge factor. If you do not intend to meet up or actually do/send anything than how does it differ from merely window shopping on Instagram, or checking a guy out in the street. Possibly, when you introduce the element of intent to go out of your way to do something, then maybe a line would be crossed.

All in all, relationships in general, with the rise of social media and apps aimed at casual encounters muddy the waters, making it extremely difficult to define was is and not OK.

Let us know what you think…
Where is the line?

Waste not, Want not

Occasionally we love to just show you all something cool if we stumble across it, which is exactly what’s happened here so bear with us people.


In the UK alone, over 34 million water bottles are used every day with only around 50% of them being recycles which in turn has a huge impact on the environment. However, to combat this Skipping Rocks Lab have created ‘OOHO’.

‘OOHO’ is an edible alternative to plastic bottles. It’s formed of a flexible spherical membrane created from seaweed and contains a liquid mix of water, chloride and brown algae extract which aims to hydrate whilst remaining tasty.

Each water module has a shelf life of between 4 – 6 weeks before it begins to decompose, much like a piece of fruit. However, they can be coloured and flavoured in a variety of different combinations. Additionally, they are cheaper to produce than plastic. Although, currently, they are only available at select events although, we expect they could have the potential to become part of our everyday lives.

What do you guys think?

Take a look at the video below to find out more…

A rare glimpse of the powerful, peaceful man


Yoga has for a long time been seen as being for women. This is only further backed when we take a look at mainstream media, in magazine and tv advertisements depicting woman practicing in beautiful elegant and often ‘feminine’ poses. However, LA based photographer Amy Goalen also saw this and thought it was time for a change.

She began by simply photographing her own yoga instructor, who was male. From this she realised the images exuded strength and a peaceful element. Subsequently, with the aid of writer Julian DeVoe they created the book ‘Inside the Warrior – The Masculine side of Yoga’.

Throughout this project, she explains how she enjoys photographing men of all ages and body types. And one of the most rewarding aspects is the ability to produce stunning images, that even the subjects are surprised at, by only using their body and practice.

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Her images are beautiful, showing a powerful yet serene side of the masculine form that is not often seen in mainstream media.

Take a further look at her work @amygpics

Let us know what you think…

Everybody has a Story – Day 10

Firstly, we apologize for not uploading any new content for a while. We have been extremely busy working on new content.

However, today is the final day of our Everybody has a Story segment. Our final day come from Leeds (UK) born Harry. Harry has asked to remain anonymous for the purposes of this interview.

Firstly, how old are you and what do you do for a living?

I’m 23 and a student nurse.

Please can you give us a brief background about your life?

I had a fairly normal upbringing to be honest. Being gay was never really considered an issue as such but I went to a catholic school growing up so it wasn’t really discussed a whole lot. The only thing that sometimes made it a little difficult was that ‘gay’ was seen as a negative term. It would be batted around then playground calling one another gay with extremely negative connotations.

When did you realize you were gay?

I realized I was gay at about 16. I knew for a while before that something was a bit different but it took me a while to fit that jigsaw piece into place and realize myself. Only once I’d fully realized myself could I then begin to tell others.

When and how did you come out?

I chose to come out quite a while after I realized myself. I waited until the right time, till I felt comfortable and it was ‘safest’ to do so. I remember I told my best friend first. Then after that I didn’t really sit down and tell people, I just snuck it into conversation and no one really batted an eyelid.

Have you ever experienced any discrimination due to your sexuality?

Like I said, I chose when to come out carefully. I remember a classmate at school came out very early at about 15/16 and was relentlessly bullied for it. I think it was just an immature ignorance around the people around him. Otherwise, personally I’ve only had the odd thing shouted. It’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve was a personal favorite. (Maybe if it was Steve he wouldn’t have fucked up like Eve….just sayin’).

If you could give your younger self, or anyone else currently struggling with their sexuality what (if any) advice could you give them?

As cheesy and cliche as it sounds just be true to yourself. Make sure you’re as comfortable as you can be in yourself first before you tell others.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Harry for his help with this project and for his frank honesty and wish him all the best for the future!