Her mother-in-law was bed-bound in a hospital bed in her living room. She was in the next room, homeschooling her children. Her mother-in-law started barking orders. She jumped up and attended her mother-in-law. When she was finished, she went back to her children. After a while, her mother-in-law demanded her attention again and, again, she jumped up to wait on her mother-in-law. This happened many times, which frustrated her, so the next time she was summoned, she yelled, “I’m trying to homeschool my children!” Her mother-in-law looked hurt and temporarily stopped ordering her around. This broke her heart, for she wanted to be kind to her mother-in-law, who only had weeks to live.

For over a week, she had been up most nights caring for her relative. One day, the hospice nurse came for a visit. When the mother-in-law barked her orders and she went running, the nurse told her that she didn’t have to wait on her mother-in-law hand and foot. She should take care of herself, get some sleep, rest. This is what she needed – someone’s permission to allow her to care for herself, for she didn’t have any balance or control in this area.

Just keep moving.” That was her motto.

Trauma is not what happens to you but, rather, how you respond to a traumatic event. (Click here to learn more about trauma.) If you have love and support when you experience trauma, then the trauma is digested, metabolized, and healed. If, however, you are not supported and are unable to work through a traumatic event and metabolize it, then the trauma gets locked into you body and, over time, causes symptoms.

Hypervigilance: A Symptom of Trauma

One sign of holding onto trauma is hypervigilance. Hypervigilance is defined as a state of increased alertness. If you are hypervigilant, you have an extreme sensitivity to your surroundings. You may be always scanning your environment for danger. Often, these dangers are imagined but they are very real to you. You may be very uncomfortable in strange places and are always on the lookout for anything that may harm you.

If you are hypervigilant, you may see the world as an unsafe place to live. This causes you to jump at every loud noise. Two or more people arguing can cause you to go into a high-stress response and bring on a great deal of anxiety. All you may want to do is to escape, to run away as far and fast as possible.

You may intensely dislike confrontation of any kind. You are unable to interpret constructive criticism as a kindness. Instead, you see it as a personal attack, even if it is gently given with a great deal of tact and love.

Being hypervigilant, you may misunderstand people and be very defensive when people talk to you. You may not be able to take a joke because you are so sensitive and take things so personally.

You may judge people harshly and think that people are harshly judging you. You may also experience mood swings or outbursts of emotion. You feel emotionally weak.

You may become emotionally withdrawn and completely disappear and hide for weeks on end, not wanting to go anywhere or see anyone. This is for protection, for you don’t want anyone to get too close. You become very controlling over who you see, where you go, and what you do. You can have a great fear of the unknown which can cause anxiety, fear, or panic.

What’s wrong with Jenny?” Kathy asked Joanne, Jenny’s best friend when Jenny seemed to disappear off the face of the planet. “Oh, that’s just the way she is,” answered Joanne.

When Kathy first met Jenny, Jenny was open, honest, and communicative. You may even say that she was a little too open, honest, and communicative, for she dumped every single tragedy she ever experienced onto Kathy during their first conversation. At least every tragedy she could tell in the limited amount of time they had together. Afterwards, she would isolate herself and not speak to anyone for weeks at a time. She wanted people to reach out, but was fearful at the same time.

Why did she do this? Because she was testing Kathy to see if she would stick around. To see if she could handle the hot mess that was Jenny.

So, what did happen to Jenny? Trauma. That’s what happened. Or, more accurately, unresolved, undigested, unprocessed trauma, for trauma must be metabolized in order to be healed and Jenny carries her trauma with her everywhere she goes.

Hypervigilance may be causing you to interpret everything as black and white. Everything is either right, or it is wrong. There is no in-between. For things to begin to shift and heal, it is necessary that you change your worldview, because your worldview may not be expanded enough to allow new perspectives and ideas to present themselves. This may be causing you to have a narrow and unhealthy view of yourself and the world.

Minds are like parachutes… they only function when open!” Thomas Dewar

Often, the more traumatized you are, the more defensive you may be. This is done as a means of protection, which makes perfect sense. Traumatized people are very protective of themselves and their surroundings in order to stay safe.

Over time, this constant state of alertness can cause extreme fatigue and exhaustion.

Awareness: the first step in the journey of healing trauma.

The first step towards transforming and healing any issue you may be struggling with is awareness.

If you are hypervigilant, you are most likely holding onto trauma in your body. You CAN heal from this. I can help because I have been there. For decades, I held onto trauma which negatively affected my health, my ability to think clearly, and my relationships. I wanted to change but couldn’t because I didn’t recognize that it was unhealed trauma that was causing my symptoms. When I became aware of what was causing my own hypervigilance, then I was able to begin the journey towards healing.

To transform and heal from hypervigilance, you must become more aware, open-minded, and mindful in order to loosen your grip on the way you see yourself, others, and the world. When you do this, the whole world will open up to you. You will start seeing new ideas and new perspectives. You will heal your mind and your body. Your relationships will deepen, too. In time, you will come out of hiding and begin to connect with people without wariness, distrust, and judgment.

Would you like help? Book a call here to connect with me.