Episode 44 - Fight or Flight or Freeze – The mechanism of triggers

Intro
Hello my dears! My name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode we will talk about “Fight or Flight”, with the addition of “or Freeze” - the mechanism of triggers.
The reason why we respond, when being triggered with those 3 options, is, that this is the very mechanism of triggers.
So, I think we should spend a bit of time to get to know it a tad bit better, as it is something like a baseline knowledge. So, let us get right into it.

Prelude
We had briefly touched on this before, but I really want to emphasize on this as it is one of the basics for understanding triggers. You might be first wondering, why I added Freeze to it at the end.
Well the original mechanism is called Fight or Flight, because that is what we are supposed to do after facing a threat to us. We either fight it or we flight, depending what grands us the higher chance of survivability.
For that the brain unleashes immense amounts of adrenaline, so we have the best shot at any of those two options. But what if we don’t make a decision? If we can’t decide to flee or fight? Well - then we freeze.
The adrenaline that would help us running at record level now blocks our brain and prevents any further communicating. And that leads us being unable to think, move or… do anything really.
So - let us first cover the base model of this mechanism and then how it relates to triggers.

The base model
So, what is the base model? The mechanism is one from old times, when we faced off against beasts on quite a regular basis and the environment was a lot more lethal to us.
The tiger is a classic example for this – though realistically a rather unrealistic one, but one of the best to use for explanations, because it is a predator jumper.
That means you wouldn’t see the whole tiger until it was way too late. But small signs like his fur, movement in the bushes, his breathing, his teeth, the legs, the heaviness of the creature and so on.
Either of these things would cause the brain to expect an attack of that creature at any moment and begins sending out adrenaline. It causes to fight stronger, run faster, ignore pain or injuries and so on.
So, when the creature attacks we can escape or fight it for our life. Our brain applies the same thing to ANYTHING that poses a potential threat to our wellbeing.
The thing is, it is still attuned to nature and doesn’t get specific connections, especially if they are abstract ones. Despite that it is still a solid mechanism that can keep you alive despite all odds.

What has this to do with triggers?
So, what has this to do with triggers? You might have already guessed, that it is same structure. Because a trigger is exactly that. It is the fight or flight mechanism gone wrong. Very wrong sometimes.
Similar like a freshman getting a huge tirade for failing at a task and then becomes overly perfectionist and completely overly alert - and the mechanism does the same thing. Overcompensating.
Because the instinct failed to protect from the threat, it becomes now omnipresent in the mind. So each little hint that goes in that direction is now taken extremely seriously.
Now it isn’t orange fur anymore, it is EVERY orange object. Movement in the bushes? Now EVERYTHING that moves is a warning sign. It is basically your brain panicking.
The alarm goes off constantly and therefor you are constantly under attack. Which means your brain keeps sending out the adrenaline and you don’t have really any idea why.
And how can you respond to something, that isn’t actually there? Because all of it, is basically a false alarm. A false alarm that goes off all the time. So if there is a REAL threat, it goes now often unnoticed.
This is why we have to teach our brains that that is a false alarm and why. We talked about how to do that in Episode 31 - Rewrite your brain.
I picked this topic so that you know what to aim for and that you no longer target into nothing and waste a lot of energy. This hopefully helps you to put triggers in a box and remove them.

Private Words
Lesson of this week: Never upgrade your PC on a Saturday evening. I finally exchanged the parts of my Computer, that caused more and more malfunctions and made my computer 177 years old in Computer Years.
Yes, there is a website that calculates this for you. But during the exchange a 5cent piece of plastic of my CPU cooler broke… and now I couldn’t attach it. The rest seems to work fine, but my fan isn’t.
Luckily, I could order a new one, as the old one was thought back then to be a placeholder. But because Sunday is all shut down in Germany, I will get delivery on Tuesday. THIS MORNING.
Means I will need to repair a computer this morning, copy over the notes, correct them and then set up everything, to be able to record. I wanted to do it Wednesday and now I remembered WHY.
But, eh, wouldn’t it be boring otherwise? I mean something going according to plan? That is now how we do things in THIS family/household. And then I got Corona. And all those plans got to waste.
But at least those times are behind me and I am immune now. Jay! Which makes listening to the news, etc. MUCH more relaxing.

Outro
That was it for todays episode. FINALLY BACK. I really missed doing this. I hope you liked this episode and that it helped to demystify the triggers.
If you have any questions or feedback and the like, please let me know at contactme@johannadraconis.com.
More information and transcript you can find as usually under johannadraconis.com/Podcast and links are in the description.
I hope to see you next time. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.

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The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD ~ Episode 44 - Fight or Flight or Freeze – The mechanism of triggers
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