Night Terrors

“But Mom, she’s crazy!” shouted Jess and I at the expense of our youngest sister, Juliana. Being seven years older than her, and Jess being 5 years older than her, we seemed to gang up on her quite a lot; especially considering she had some traits that were not consistent with what we considered the average little sister should have. She would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, crying, and begging for my mom (even when she was sitting right in front of her). Juliana just seemed to look past her and continue to cry and scream out of sheer terror. But what was there to be afraid of? Jess and I just didn’t understand. The doctor later called these dramatic episodes “night terrors,” and because of these horrific dreams and outbursts that used to occur very often, Juliana is now occasionally afraid to go to sleep, in fear of experiencing one. 

Sigmund Freud believed that childhood experiences greatly influence the development of later personality traits and psychological problems in a person, and with this theory he developed psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis emphasizes unconscious conflict and past events, or early childhood traumas.  

Researching more into night terrors, according to Webmd, an estimated 1%-6% of children experience night terrors, boys and girls are equally affected, children of all races also seem to be affected equally, and it is a disorder that is usually outgrown by adolescence. They are most likely caused by stressful life events, fever, sleep deprivation, medications that affect the nervous system, or recent anesthesia given for surgery. 

Even now, years after the night terrors used to occur, Juliana still finds trouble in sleeping some nights. As she lays her head down on her pillow, she becomes nervous and afraid to fall asleep. “Who’s afraid to fall asleep?” Jess and I thought to ourselves, but looking back on Juliana’s past, it makes sense now. Having consistent night terrors and never wanting to fall asleep when she was younger affects her 7 years later, and most likely will for the rest of her life because of the early childhood traumas that she suffered through. 

Being so young and naive, Jess and I just assumed that she was crazy and that what was happening to her was one hundred percent out of the ordinary. We had no interest in trying to learn about what was actually happening within Juliana’s mind, we just told everyone she was crazy because it was a much easier (and might I add harsher) explanation. Now, although we tease her about many things, after all, that’s what big sisters are supposed to do, we avoid the topic of the terrifying night terrors she used to have as a younger child because she really couldn’t have done anything to prevent those; just like how she can’t really do anything to prevent her fear of sleeping some nights now.



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