Thumb Sucking

Discussions on addictions and their relationship to depression. Post as new topic.

Re: Thumb Sucking

Postby shoebei » November 26th, 2017, 11:09 am

I have been thumb sucking my entire life, 50+ years. I learned to conceal it when I entered grade school, and since then I have kept it secret. It has always been manageable, ie just something comforting when alone, or sleeping; and I've always thought of it as another coping mechanism, like smoking, mints, emotional eating etc.
However, it turns out that I have had obstructive sleep apnea for most of my adult life, and started using a CPAP device four years ago. CPAP does not tolerate thumb sucking at all, and I spent two years learning to keep the CPAP on my face. I would wake up in the morning with the mask hung on the bedpost, CPAP turned off, and my hand in my face. I could see that the machine was used for two hours at most. The nights it stayed on longer, I would wake up exhausted, even more depressed, and angry. I started waking from nightmares I could not remember. And daytime thumb sucking became more important to me. I started seeking out private time during the day, and even avoiding others completely so I could indulge my habit. CPAP seems maybe to have helped reduce my hayfever, but little else. I am more successful now, using it 6+ hours most nights; but now I also meditate, and have discussed the emotional side of all this with my therapist at length. But I am still waiting for noticeable CPAP benefits, other than sleeping quietly.
But I guess my point is that I now understand that neglect and early childhood experiences are connected not only with my thumb sucking habit, but that my CPAP therapy triggers a trauma response of its own, beyond simply depriving me of self-comfort via oral fixation of any kind. I guess I should be grateful that CPAP was the catalyst for helping me realize the extent of my early childhood abuse, but I'm not there yet.
I am still very protective of my habit, and it can feel very shameful when considered in any kind of social context. But as long as I keep it to myself, it is a very effective and convenient comfort. Once my dentist made a casual remark, noticing the shift in my teeth, but didn't elaborate. Ditto an acupuncturist who noticed my thumbs didn't match. And I'm sure it's contributing to some neck/alignment issues too. But it seems like a small price to pay, and I have quit drinking, smoking, junk food etc. so I'm feeling ahead of the game in that way most days...
Posts: 1
Joined: November 11th, 2017, 7:48 pm
Gender: male
Issues: depression, food, sleep, alcohol
preferred pronoun: he


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