Beverley Gilmour could be described as the woman who’s nearly died a thousand deaths.
The 49-year-old, from St Annes, suffers from an extremely rare medical problem – she has had frequent, chronic “near death experiences” for the last 27 years.
The mum-of-two says she can have up to three of the ‘attacks’ a month. When it strikes, she experiences an “out of body” feeling, and her heart stops.
Beverley, who cannot work and has seen various doctors because of her condition, said: “Most people who describe having a near death experience go through it when they’re on the operating table, or at a moment of trauma to the body – for example a car accident. Most people only ever experience one in their lifetime.
“But I’ve been having them, up to three a month, just when I am lying down, since 1987.
“I was terrified at first, because I didn’t know what was happening. I asked a friend about it because I was quite panicky and she said it sounded like a near death experience. I started researching it and I am now in the process of writing a book, as I’ve been writing down my experiences for years.”
Beverley suffers from constant headaches and she has to take a variety of medication, including heart tablets, blood tablets and sleeping tablets – all of which allow her to live with her condition.
She is unable to live a ‘normal’ life and has to have someone with her all the time – her two sons act as carers for her.
She said: “I go into a trance-like state. I feel I move over to the after-life.
“Just after, when I come round, I feel very sore and stiff and my head burns.
“The episode itself is not painful. I am aware of what’s going on during it.
“I can see my own body and can see and hear everything going on around me. I have no concept of time though and I have no idea how long it takes. I can only try to judge how long it is by how I feel afterwards.
“Following a near death experience, when I come round I can be extremely exhausted – I can be physically so bad I am bed-ridden for four or five days.
“I think I’ve just adjusted my life around it now. I haven’t had a natural night’s sleep since 1992, relying on sleeping tablets.”
Beverley – who is registered disabled – is hoping the publicity around her case might encourage others with similar experiences to come forward.
But she knows it can be a difficult subject for people to talk about, as they might be worried they may not believed – or it might be presumed they have a mental illness.
She said: “In the beginning, when I first went to see doctors about it, it was terrible – they just thought it was mental illness. So I became reluctant to talk about it.
“But I have seen some doctors since who have really listened and been supportive.
“One doctor witnessed the after-affects of me coming around, he was so scared he ran out the room!”
The doctor had written in Beverley’s medical notes: “One episode, witness ‘convulsion’, loss of control, shaking and frothing at the mouth.”
Beverley is writing a book about her experiences and hopes to include the stories of other people who may have similar issues.
She would like to see more research carried out in the field, to try to gain a deeper medical understanding.
Anyone who has experienced something similar can contact Beverley by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org