Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sleeping to Avoid Pain

I recently started a thread about this on my favorite forum and many adoptees responded saying they do this, too...or something like it.

It's been pretty hectic lately (house guests, teenagers and trying to stick to a writing schedule), so some of you may have seen this at AAAFC. If so, sorry for the repeat.

Was just reading, "The Needs of the Newborn in the First Hours of Life" that I found on Julie's blog. (Thank you, Julie. Again!)

This is the part that made my eyes pop out:

The baby has no way of interpreting what is happening to it, or of knowing that the separation and abandonment it is experiencing are ever going to end. The only way the baby can shut off the pain of the long hours without its mother, is by using sleep as a defense. Primal patients who have relived this particular trauma have often gained insights into the fact that this became a prototypic defense for them and that they continued to use sleep as an escape whenever reality became too painful.

When the going gets tough? I conk out. It's the weirdest thing. If something happens that upsets me, not long afterward I feel like I'm crashing. And then I get really sleepy. Sometimes, if I can't fight it, I take a nap. This is embarrassing to admit, but I never made the connection between a triggering event and my sudden sleepiness, but I've always thought it was odd and have wondered about it. Lots! And then I stumbled across that article. As a newborn, my mother never held me (her choice, she admitted, didn't want to get attached) and so I was left in the nursery for an entire week while she made up her mind whether to relinquish. And like so many of you, then it was off to Mystery Foster Care and Who-the-Hell-Knows-What-Happened! So the above makes sense.

15 Comments:

Anonymous mia said...

I read something recently about the subject of genetic trauma. Have you ever heard of this before? Your post made me think about it.

Sleep is an escape for me too but I also grind my teeth something terrible so it really doesn't "go away" in dreams. I don't think it's really an escape like we think it is. I think we do more subjective rationalizing and allowing during sleep.

5:15 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Hi Mia, Haven't heard of it, but now I'm curious and will look it up. I'll have to pay more attention to what I do the next I drop off due to something upsetting!

10:58 AM  
Blogger Erika said...

Wow, i never knew this, it explains a lot.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Erika...

Weird...shocking...but does explain a lot!

5:35 PM  
Blogger Celera said...

Interesting, Nina. I have always been prone to depression, and when depressed I oversleep and overeat (it is more typical for depressed people to have anorexia and insomnia.)

Being prone to depression is clearly genetic, but my genetic siblings struggle with it much less than I do. So, while being adopted doesn't explain everything, it seems reasonable to see these very early experiences as a factor.

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Anonymous Katina said...

I haven't commented before but i've been trawling through your blog for days. You really do have an amazing writing voice. I'm a writer as well... well i'm learning to let my self love writing. I've found you so inspiring.

I read Primal Wound two years ago, it was given to me by my adoptee housemate. Him and i are special friends, two adopted children living together, it's a special indestructible, limitless bond.
Anyhow, the book opened me up completely i didn't realise how deeply in denial i was of how much pain i was cleverly disguising, to my own emotional and physical detriment. Since then i have been slowly researching and explaining and making these connections. It's like i'm digging a hole, deep down my true self is buried. Every shovel of dirt represents more trauma processed. It's a friggin deep hole.

The sleep thing...

My aMum had the hardest time getting me out of bed in the morning for school, i just flat out refused. She would TRY to physically remove me some mornings, other mornings i didn't wake up till after lunch. This has continued. If i don't have an amazing reason to get out of bed i will over sleep. With my partner, he needs to sneak out of bed as i'm likey to ENRAGE! And if he tries to wake me i feel myself decided to NOT BE WOKEN. I refuse to allow him to control when i am awake. Even if i need to get up for a commitment. It just doesn't matter to me in that state in the morning. My freedom to choose when i am awake seems far more important than any thing else.

I'm so thankful for your blog. You're helping me dig my hole. :P

Katina

8:50 AM  

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