While it’s no secret to most of us that emotional pain can manifest as physical pain, I’m still discovering new aspects of this all the time.
When I was at Uni, I studied Cognitive Neuroscience and learned that physical pain is routed through the limbic system. This explains the cross-over between the emotional and physical pain issues.
But it was only this morning while sitting in the bath and listening to an audiobook (one of my guilty pleasures) that I finally understood the source of my sleepiness.
I get plenty of sleep. I exercise and eat well. I don’t have medical condition making me tired. But I am sad. And my sadness is masked by tiredness.
I was listening to the Audible version of The Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engle, and she really struck a chord with me. I’ve always been great at sleeping! It’s rare for me to have insomnia, but when I do it makes me really emotional.
Engle writes about our primary emotions and the other states that often mask them. Particularly for us ‘nice girls’ who try to suppress our primary emotions. She mentioned that tiredness is a common mask for sadness – and a whole ton of pennies just dropped at the same time!
All of my physical but unexplainable symptoms, such as my migraines and IBS, are most definitely an outlet for the fear I don’t allow myself to express. I’ve known that for some time. But tiredness as a substitute for sadness? Now that’s a breakthrough-level understanding for me.
I can now start to work on acknowledging my sadness, most likely the root cause of my depression, and coach my way through it. When I am feeling desperate for a nap, even though I’ve not been awake for that long, I can look inwards and ask myself if I’m really feeling physical tiredness or a sense of hopelessness?
I think this is going to make a huge difference, and I will keep you posted on how I do with this.
If this resonated with you then do check out Beverly Engle’s book, it’s been really worthwhile for me.