Forget About Fight Or Flight…..My Issue Is Freeze


FREEZE Logo1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have once again been absent from posting in the blogosphere for an extended time. It is quite unintentional. I set out to post on a regular schedule, and then for some mysterious reason life intervenes. What I mean by this is I am overcome with something I can only describe as paralysis of the soul. I bet some of you out there know just what I am talking about. This isn’t your everyday kind of “life gets busy and gets in the way” excuse. This is different.

We have all heard and read much information about our bodies response to heightened and /or unexpected acute stress. Most often it is talked about in terms of the fight or flight stress response. In this case, our body floods with neurochemicals, hormones, central nervous system, and endocrine changes that allow us to temporarily increase our typical speed and/or strength in response to a direct life threat. This system has been part of our evolution for thousands of years and is traced back to the earliest animal species as part of the limbic brain activation and survival instinct. And don’t get me wrong, it has served many a living thing very admirably, providing for their continued existence in the face of life extinction events.  Our human brains are the most remarkable out of all the living species here on earth, I am sure most would agree. But in this modern age, it seems that this stress response has gone haywire in a fairly significant portion of us. PTSD comes to mind. Some researchers have even proposed that this fight or flight response becomes activated in some us when such events as getting cut off in traffic or overwhelmed by constant cell phone calls take place. Surely that can’t be a good thing. And this has spawned much talk about relaxation, reducing cortisol levels, and the like. But there is one piece of the puzzle missing. One piece that gets far too little attention. That is the third response our bodies can have when faced with a life threatening situation. That, my friends, is freeze.

When I talk about freezing, I’m not referring to the actual cold. I am talking about a physical, mental, and emotional state whereby you are almost paralyzed…..unable to move, unable to think clearly, unable to take action. Frozen. This seems to be my personal go-to response and, can I just say… is no fun! Many adjectives come to mind when trying to describe this experience. Stuck. Trapped. Shutdown. Offline. Paralyzed. What I find most disconcerting about the whole thing though is my complete inability to DO. All I am able to carry out is to BE. That might not sound to bad on the surface; many philosophers and spiritual leaders in fact encourage us to practice just being. But I don’t think they meant it in this way. When you haven’t taken a shower, dressed, eaten, paid bills, or walked your dog for walk because all you can do is BE…..that is not such a good thing. But such has been my experience of late. Now, with a bit of my mojo back, I am looking for ways to lessen this frozen state. I have found a few helpful books on the subject, with some great tips like forcing yourself to lay in a tub of warm water and try to dissipate the “stuck” energy from your system.

Well, we are all on a journey and this happens to be part of mine. If this is an experience you share, I would love to hear your thoughts. And for all the professionals out there who have treated this condition, fill me up with your tips! I am eagerly searching for a way to better manage my states, so all feedback is welcomed. Namaste, my friends. And keep on going.


8 thoughts on “Forget About Fight Or Flight…..My Issue Is Freeze

  1. the_lunatic says:

    Ah yes, this is what I struggle with as well.

  2. I feel like my energy is stuck too. I hate it. I think this is just a glut of unfortunate events that have built up like tartar or plaque. It has slowed my activity down to a trickle. I’m in a state of just being, too. If not for blogging I think it would be much, much worse. Blogging makes me feel like I’m plugged into something bigger than me.
    okay… I’m rambling. Just know that I get what you’re saying. I like the idea of “stuck energy” to describe this feeling.

  3. I know all about the freeze. Great description here of a really not great situation. Being frozen is not being lazy. Lazy is a definite step up from frozen. I don’t get stuck as long any more, and not as frequent. That’s about all I can offer here.

  4. In response to trauma these are the three common responses: flight, flight or freeze. Is that probable in your case?

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