Acupuncture, amber alert, Anxiety, defense mechanisms, Emergency Essence, Faulty stress reaction, impending doom, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, PTSD goodie-bag, siege, Stress, sub-conscious, WD40
The ‘on’ switch is jammed and I can’t get it to turn off.
I learnt this enhanced fight or flight reaction from my PTSD, from the night that bastard chose to pummel my face, push me around and terrorise me.
My body knows what my mind can’t compute because it’s busy trying to shield me from the shock of what’s going on. It loudly announces: DOOM! IMPENDING AND IMMINENT DOOM! FAAAARK! DOOM!!
This message carries its evidence in my throat, heart, lungs, solar plexus and belly. It can be hard to breathe. I cough a lot and my chest feels like it’s under incredible pressure. My guts shimmer and swirl and it’s as though I’ve eaten too much fairy floss. I feel sick. I get the runs. I can’t shake the feeling that something VERY BAD is about to happen any freakin’ moment.
That moment? The one where I really was in some pretty extreme danger is over. It’s been over for years. Anyone who’s read this blog knows how much work I’ve put into making all of that past tense.
But my body still remembers what to do. How to respond. That hyper-vigilance one gets in the PTSD goodie-bag isn’t going to stop just because my conscious and logical mind is cool with everything. Damn it, my body is gonna STAY ready (just in case, okay?).
Because of this, I find myself unwittingly prepared for a siege when there aren’t even any invaders to be reckoned with. If I get stressed or anxious about something – BOOM – my body takes that as a signal to get the defense mechanisms ready. While there’s no need to pull up the drawbridge and hunker down – you just try telling that to my sub-conscious!
Although it’s not just that the ‘on’ switch is jammed. The other thing is that there’s only one speed – go for broke.
And I can’t tell you how much it sucks.
For example, several weeks ago I went for the job interview (for the job I now have). The interview went well, obviously. I had nothing to be worried about but for whatever reason, I was stressed. Possibly because I was so hopeful that I’d get the damn job, but who knows!
Anyway, on the tram on my way home I started noticing the tightness in my throat. Here we go again…
Then there was last night. If you were on Twitter while I was ranting, you’d know what I’m talking about but I seriously don’t have the energy to rehash it all here.
However, unlike my job interview-induced stress, last night’s was a doozy. A genuinely stressful experience with a fall-out zone across multiple areas of my life. Let’s just say it has to do with yoga, although not yoga teaching.
Yoga is one of the main stabilising forces in my life so for something to go askew there, it’s big.
Couldn’t sleep last night as a result and then all of today I’ve been doing whatever I can to calm my inner sentries and get them to stand down from active duty. Because when it’s all guns blazing my body really, really hurts.
The kicker is, while I know I’m okay, my body insists on it’s own version of events because it refuses to be caught unawares this time ’round.
So consequently all of today I’ve felt like shit. Even doing some front-end coding (which I usually find very calming) didn’t really help. Neither did all of the Emergency Essence I sucked back. Eating some fresh fruit, drinking plenty of water and having a giggle at some YouTube videos was good. So was my acupuncture appointment (which I’d rescheduled from last week – talk about great timing!).
Although I’m doing better now, I’m not 100% okay. My body hasn’t calmed down completely – let’s just say it’s currently on amber alert. Hopefully by tomorrow morning when I’m still alive and unharmed, my inner sergeant will call “at ease” to the troops.
This is very difficult to explain if you haven’t experienced this for yourself – hence the description of the jammed ‘on’ switch. That’s kind of what it’s like. I’ve sprayed on some WD40 and I’m working that switch back and forth. It’s starting to budge a little but it won’t move back into the ‘off’ position entirely. Not just yet.
So I’ll just keep on working it with whatever tools seem to make sense, and it’ll get there in the end. Damn you, faulty stress reaction!
(Note to self: Must get faulty stress reaction serviced. This is something for Kerry and I to explore at our next appointment!)
“The kicker is, while I know I’m okay, my body insists on it’s own version of events because it refuses to be caught unawares this time ’round.”
I know this oh so well Svasti. How ingrained traumas and abuses become in our cells, even when our minds know so much better. Having been in the hands of violence beginning in infancy, the fight or flight “On” switch is rarely in the off position for me. I work on keeping myself in check to avoid reactiveness and increasing my stress. Thank goodness for deep breathing and the simple grounding mantra reminder that ‘all is well’, when it truly is.
sending thoughts of peace and security bound in love,
Nancy A said:
hugs s.. i get that sometimes too.
Y is for Yogini said:
i have this most of the time. it’s sort of crazy. always ON, always GO. my practice, kriyas, and having a smart-ass outlet help. 🙂 sending you love!
oh… boo. I can’t understand, but I will send you Strength and ‘OFF’ button-ness with all my being.
Andrew struggles with anxiety. he’s described it similarly.
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