Fight or Flight: At the End of the Day, It’s All About Fear

I had to go see my Psychiatrist today. I had every intention of telling her that I wasn’t going to continue to take the medication that has been prescribed, because I don’t think that I need it. However I didn’t say that to her, for no other reason then we started talking about how I was feeling about this past month, and as when happens when I get overwhelmed, I was able to talk through what I was feeling.

I told her about a disagreement I’d had with a friend that we had both worked out amicably, while maintaining our friendship. I told her about my article published in the magazine, I told her about the jobs I did for the public speaking gigs, and then I realized that I am incredibly overwhelmed.

I realized that everything that I’ve done or haven’t done in the last year and a half has been about being in a constant state of fight or flight.

It’s not the work that is overwhelming me, that is the only part of my life that I feel like is on point. It’s the constant emotional state of fight or flight that I am in. Even when I appear to be relaxed and laughing, I am constantly worried that my abusers will make good on their promises to come after me in some way or fashion.

I get really frustrated with my mom – by no fault of hers, because when she’s here I am trying to calm down from the fact that while she was gone, I spend the entire day worrying about whether or not my rapists are going to kick down my door. By the time she gets home I am so emotionally spent, that I can’t function, which is precisely why I don’t cook, clean, or shower, the way normal people do. I’m too stuck in “if I move they will kick down the door, if I stay in this precise spot, I am safe.

I feel like a caged bird, stuck in this place that I can’t escape because I don’t have enough energy, time or money, and I know there are a lot of people in the world that feel that way too. I also know that right now where I am at in this moment is where I need to be, but that doesn’t stop the feeling of being trapped from becoming overwhelming.

Not enough money, and far too little financial literacy has me feeling like I have one arm tied behind my back, and this is a feeling I have had most of my life. It’s not just a matter of going out and getting a job – it’s what if I get the job and then I suck at it as I have so many times in the past? That is also overwhelming and that fear stops me from going and getting a nine to five job.

The pandemic has made this anxiety worse, because I see even less people than I used to after I cut everyone off, so there’s an added layer of isolation to my fear spiral.

Then there’s the fact that I am finally doing what I want to be doing, which is writing, and although it’s not bringing in the big bucks, it is giving me a feeling of foundation, and if I go and get a job, I might lose this fragile sense of peace that I have found.

There are so many reasons that I don’t want to just “go get a job“, what if I go to work and run into my abusers? What if they follow me home? What if they are waiting for me when I get here? All of the reasons that I have revolve around fear.

I didn’t realize that fear had such a tight grip on my heart, body, soul, and mind, and all of my fears revolve around the fact that I feel like I am running out of time.

I went through something absolutely horrible, and yes I am still healing, but more than that I realized on the day that this photo was taken, that I honestly was truly grateful to be alive. Surrounded by all the people at Pride in 2019, I felt this overwhelming feeling of “I shouldn’t be here, I don’t belong here anymore.” The memories had just started to come back, and I was starting to acknowledge that I had come very close to death, not for the first time in my life. Needless to say, that pretty much soured the entire day.

Being gang-raped again changed everything about me, on an almost genetic level. Being arrested woke up all those feelings of trauma and fear, and I got so overwhelmed I ended up in a state of panic that ran so deep through my mind the people around me thought and still continue to think that I am genuinely psychotic.

I’m not.

What I am is coming to terms with the fact that I was forced to deal with a lot of feelings that I had learned to hide and not deal with, and when they stormed the gates of my mind, I was not emotionally prepared to deal with them all. Now that I understand that, it’s easier to break down how I feel and to be honest about what I am going through.

I have nightmares at night, where I wake up screaming, I never used to as a child. I remember having a nightmare once in my life as a kid, but now they happen all the time. And it’s always the same, one of my abusers standing over me, reaching under my pillow for my phone as he calmly tells me he is going to kill me. The others are always with him standing in the background watching.

Sometimes it’s the same abuser, other times it’s a different one – sometimes it’s a guy who kissed me without asking me, other times it’s the idea that a man might kiss me without asking first. Other times it’s me not being able to say no in the dream, so I wake up screaming no as loudly as I can.

I learned today that what I need above medication, cannabis, and writing about my pain, is to genuinely talk about it. To say “this is how I feel,” I stopped doing that and started to focus only on the fact that I was tired. Feeling withdrawn even in my BudSista’s meetings, feeling out of sorts around people who are not Black or BIPOC because of all the tensions surrounding race that are happening in the world.

Sarah Everard’s death really affected me, like it did millions and millions of people around the earth, because I can’t help but think “why her instead of me?” What is so special about me that I get to be the one who is still breathing, while she’s no longer with us? What craptastic lottery is that?

Part of me thinks that I shouldn’t question it too much and I should just focus on the work instead, but part of me can’t help but wondering what the hell it is that the universe wants from me. I feel like if I just knew what I was supposed to be doing – or if I knew for a fact that what I am doing is what I am supposed to be doing, then this whole life would make a lot more sense.

But then I realize what fun would that be? Life is chaotic right now, it’s a journey, and every day brings me closer to the end of my life, as my mom would say, but it’s what we do with the time that we have that matters.

I feel like a social experiment, largely because I am putting so much of my life out there for the world to see. “Is she gonna make it? Will she survive? Is she strong enough?

I am the only person in the world putting pressure on myself, and I realize that I have to give myself a fucking break. I went through something evil, and I came out the other side a changed person, I have to take time to adjust to all these new changes, but I also have to spend time strengthening my body, mind, and spirit, again.

It took a lot out of me to survive that last bout with my rapists, and I don’t know if that was the last battle for forever, but I need to start getting back into preparing mode. Kirk Acevedo would call it “Beast Mode“, where you prepare your body, mind, and soul, for any future challenge that comes your way by pushing the limits of what you think you’re capable of now, instead of waiting until the challenge is upon you.

The thing is that I am afraid to do that. I am afraid that I’ll look silly – now if someone said this to me, I’d tell them to get over it. Risk looking silly if that is what you need to do to feel like you have some control over your life, because you absolutely are not powerless, the fear has you convinced that you are powerless.

I pray to the Gods and Goddesses every day, even when it doesn’t seem like that’s what I am doing. Sometimes I mentally knock down a door and demand their attention, other times I scream at them and tell them they are fucking idiots, because sometimes I think I know everything and have all the answers.

It is refreshing to know that I don’t have all the answers, to know that there is still more for me to learn, understand, and dissect. It means that I am human.

Yes I am in a constant state of fight or flight, but I also know that I don’t have to be. There are coping mechanisms that I can learn that will help me deal with the way that I feel, maybe I could take a self defense class, like I’ve always wanted to, or maybe I can start forcing myself to go outside for walks. But I know that if I sit back and do nothing, this is never going to get better.

I do know that I miss my body – and yes I smoke a lot, but I could start off small. I don’t want to lose weight so that I can just feel pretty – I want to lose weight because I know it’s the healthy choice, but if I am being honest, yes there is a bit of vanity to it. I was a very pretty, beautiful girl, and I am still inside somewhere, but I don’t see it behind all this weight, and I don’t like that.

There are some women who are overweight and they carry it so well – they are physically beautiful because they are mentally beautiful, and they literally don’t give any fucks about what you think of their body. I am not one of those women, I care what you think of my body – but more than what you think, I care about what “I” think, and I think, that’s more important then what you think.

I don’t feel beautiful, and while that doesn’t have a lot to do with fight or flight, it has a lot to do with my anxiety and depression. So in this post I have come up with several goals as you’ve seen, for me to work towards, and while I’m not rushing to kick down the doors of those goals, I am mentally preparing myself to start getting ready, to deal with achieving those goals.

My process may not make sense to anyone else, but it makes sense to me, and that’s all that matters.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

Author: Devon J Hall

Devon J Hall is a thirty-eight-year-old Writer and Author from Surrey, British Columbia by way of Calgary Alberta. She lives with three cats, one mother, and is addicted to coffee, cigarettes, and weed, not necessarily in that order.

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