Friday, August 16, 2013

Fight or Flight?

Last summer, I came home one morning from working the night shift, to someone robbing my house. My husband was out of state, and my daughter was staying with my sister.

I am an enigma. I can be so irrationally anxious about silly things, but then when a car is backed into my driveway - I automatically assume they are just waiting for a neighbor. I almost made it into the house, when Burglar A honked the horn to alert Burglar B of my arrival. Long story short, when it came down to it, my body went Fight instead of Flight.

Looking back, it was a comical scene. Me reaching through the open window of their getaway car, and shaking this man's shoulder yelling "HEY! What are you doing?!?!" over and over again - and him slapfighting my hand away like a middle school girl. Me diving at his horn and honking it incessantly trying to alert my neighbors, and him peeling out of my driveway nearly taking me with him.

All this to say, I've got my modes flipped. That situation would have been better fitted to Flight. Run back to my car, call the cops, be safe. But my body didn't do that for some reason, and it could've cost me a lot more than a sore arm.

Then there are situations like this morning, riding in the back of my own car with my own little family to take my daughter to her first day of kindergarten. Something about the situation caused me anxiety. Maybe it was that we HAD to take her to kindergarten - meaning it wouldn't have been okay for me to not go, or to have a panic attack in the backseat. Apparently the only necessary ingredient for panic attacks, is a situation/environment where it would be really inconvenient to have one. Boom- you got yourself a panic attack.

At that point, I felt like the only thing that could make the terror subside, would be to get out of the car, run through a field, or to turn around and go home. Flight.

I don't think Fight is the answer either though. I think I'm supposed to Float. When I feel those symptoms starting up, I'm supposed to acknowledge it and Float until it's over (a VERY difficult thing to do), and then congratulate myself when it's over.

I've been reading a book over this whole subject. The book said this may get worse before it gets better, because of the amount of focus put on the problem as you are reading and trying to work through it. I didn't realize to what extent. I didn't realize I wouldn't be able to take a nap on a day when I have literally nothing to do, because I snap awake after 30 seconds with my heart racing.

Part of me really wants to go back to what I was doing. Making all my decisions based on avoidance. I was a happy little introvert who said "no" to almost all social engagements. Maybe if I were an extrovert, I would be more motivated to work through these issues. But I've convinced myself that I don't like to do certain things . . . when it may be that I am just afraid. But the part of me that loves my husband and daughter says I have to keep trying.

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