Fight, Flight or Freeze


I don’t know if it’s a common trait of Introverts, or if it’s just me, but when I’m suffering I hide. I take to the sidelines and do my best to blend in. I don’t want everyone to know that things are bad. I will talk to a small group of friends, sometimes even sharing that things aren’t perfect, but very seldom do I actually share HOW bad things are. Almost never while things are going on. A week ago I did that. I reached out to one of my very best friends and shared that things are really bad. This has been one of the hardest years of my life – one in which every day I was afraid my husband was going to lose his job and we were going to lose our new home. And one in which my dog was attacked by coyotes in our pretty new back yard. Every day was scary. And every day I felt like I was drowning. About six weeks ago I went to a chiropractor. New fangled chiropractors do all sorts of tests on you that measure all sorts of things related to your central nervous system, which controls every single thing about your body. So essentially, if your CNS is out of whack, so are you.

When I met with him to review the results of my tests, what I saw both shocked and horrified me and didn’t surprise me at all. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I’ll tell you that my spine has more curves than a Formula One racetrack and he said that I’m basically living in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze.

He could see that, based on physical test results.

He said that I don’t have any reserves and that I don’t recover from stressors – like at all. That stressors just keep heaping one on top of the other, and I have no ability to move on from them. It was shocking to me to have someone clinically say what I know to be true deep down inside me, and SUCH A HUGE RELIEF that someone else knew it and that it wasn’t “just me” and I wasn't crazy.

Here is an excerpt from that test: “Heart Rate Variability helps the doctor to determine your overall ability to adapt to the environment. It does this by looking at the timing of your pulse, and determining the balance and tension within your nervous system. Stressful lifestyles, habits including poor dietary choices, limited exercise and constant emotional aggravation can cause the body to be caught in a “fight-flight” response. This can lead to exhaustion and a draining of a person’s reserves. A score within the green box is associated with better adaptability and relates to a healthy lifestyle. Low heart rate variability is associated with accelerated aging and poor heart health. Published research has shown that chiropractic adjustments have a beneficial effect on heart rate variability.”

Needless to say, I was not in the green box, nor the yellow. I was in the orange and received a failing grade. He also pointed out that any medications that I am taking, i.e. for depression and anxiety have falsely INFLATED my score, so my failing score, without meds, is actually failing and then some.

That was depressing! And I don’t recover from depressing things. I have no reserves. And then my dog was attacked by 2 coyotes for the second time in a year (that I fought off!) and then I found a snake in my art studio. I felt like I was coming unglued. And I don’t recover from stressful things. I have no reserves.

I’m sharing this with you while I’m in the middle of it because my hunch is that some of you may also feel like you’re living in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze (isn’t it EXHAUSTING???) and you may feel like you have no reserves. And I want you to know that you’re not alone. You are not alone.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any answers for you. I know my answer is to keep going to the chiropractor three times a week and try to get my central nervous system back on line and see if that helps. So far, after six weeks, things are changing – not improving quite yet, but change is happening and I have to believe that’s a good thing. He tells me it is.

I’m trying to eat better and I’m taking vitamins and supplements. Maybe be one of these days I’ll try exercise. Honestly, I don’t want to make too many changes at once!! And I’m trying not to scare myself on purpose (adrenaline is addicting) with movies and books and such, and am watching happy, sappy movies and listening to happy music. All things that should help.

Thinking happy thoughts over here and sending love from me to you.


Laurie Jacobsen

Graphic Designer, Life Coach and Maker. Living the dream in Tucson, Arizona.