Hyperarousal sounds kind of sexual so that’s probably why it’s something that’s more commonly referred to as the fight or flight response. A chap named Walter first talked about this basic response in all animals. When a threat to survival is perceived hormones are released and the body is prepared to fight for survival or skedaddle.
Most people are aware that in stressful situations their heart rate rises and the adrenaline is pumping. But so much more is going on than just adrenaline. There’s also oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol. As well as some non hormone stuff like dopamine and serotonin. But whether we are aware of exactly what’s going on inside our body or not we tend to have very little control over our personal reactions to stress.
Particularly our personal reactions to the threat of death. In fact I’d say that under the threat of injury or death is when the whole fight or flight idea breaks down because some people just freeze. Which is neither fighting or flighting… But anyway, there are those of us that stick around to fight our way to victory… or not. And those of us who run away dramatically to fly again another day.
Growing up with four siblings has on the whole made me a fighter. Your pain threshold gets heightened under that kind of constant irritation and general fisticuff life. And you learn to put up a basic level of fighting ability. I realise I make it sound like my family was some kind of fight club growing up, but if it were I wouldn’t be telling you about it, would I? Siblings just fight.
Anywho, when it comes to physical threats I’m a fighter. I long for the day I can see danger coming and I can barrel in, rescue the baby rolling towards a car in their pram and stand their like some kind of super hero with their cape flapping in the wind afterwards.
But when it’s all mental… that’s kind of a different story. I accidentally missed my doctor appointment earlier in the week. It was definitely not on purpose, I don’t miss appointments on purpose, ever. I just worked until 6am so when my alarm went of at 9am I slept right through it. Damn. I feel like a bit of a let down for my doctor, which makes me sad. But I am now very nervous and scared to stroll in or call up the medical centre for another appointment.
It would be safe to say that I am flying. No not flying. Flying sounds far too graceful. It’s more sort of a limb flailing dash in the opposite direction while I make a dinosaur inspired screeching noise. There’s nothing graceful about it. Here’s hoping that somewhere along the way I stumble over either some courage or Dorothy Gale to lead me to finding some.