When we are feeling threatened by someone or something, we will naturally defend ourselves to ensure our survival. This is a healthy and normal response.
During this period of high stress, our bodies will release neurochemicals that increase our senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) to allow us to track and protect ourselves from the perceived threat. Our unconscious survival mechanisms kick into high gear, lowering our blood supply to vital organs and shunting blood supply to our extremities in case we need to run or fight. In effect, we become fully prepared for battle.
After the threat has passed, we stop producing neurochemicals that are associated with survival and our bodies return to their natural resting state and our senses return to normal again.
But there are times when trauma causes a malfunction of the threat mechanisms in the brain, causing the brain and body to go into a state of constant alert.
Many factors can cause over-stimulation of the threat mechanisms including chemical injury, bacteria, virus and emotional or psychological stress. When we are feeling threatened over a long period of time, our bodies learn to adapt to this unhealthy state, but at a large cost to our well-being. Functions like rest, digestion, elimination, communication and reproduction are no longer viewed as essential and get over shadowed by our need for protection. Our heightened sensory awareness becomes the norm and we may find ourselves more sensitive to common everyday stimuli.
Slowly we learn to adapt to this state and change the way in which we live in order to accommodate the war within. And just like victims of war, we become shadows of our former selves. We adapt to this heightened level of threat and over time, this inevitably changes the way we view the world. Our innocence is taken when we are forced to live our lives in survival. No longer the happy-go-lucky people we once were, we turn into bitter pessimists. Happiness seems like a luxury that is only available to people who are still naive.
Slowly we withdraw from society as our need for protection starts to invade every aspect of our existence. We even reach out to those who offer help but find ourselves feeling disillusioned time and time again when they are unable to help us. This leads to questioning our ability to trust. We are left feeling helpless and hopeless and often feel like invisible victims of a global war. Our minds are consumed with worry and a need to protect what little we have left of ourselves.
This is what life is like for those who suffer from limbic system impairments. The cascading physical effects of an impaired threat mechanism are very real and the suffering involved is horrendous. However, once the threat mechanisms are normalized again, the body can return to its natural state of growth and repair, allowing you to finally move forward in life again.
If you or someone you know suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia or any other limbic system impairment you will want to tell them that they do not have to live this way.
My team and I will be conducting two three-day neuro rehabilitation programs coming up in British Columbia:
- Kelowna, December 7 – 9
- Victoria January 25 – 27
Join us to start to reclaim your life and retrain the threat mechanism in your brain.
Annie Hopper is a Limbic System Neuroplasticity Specialist. She can be reached at [email protected]