After my first and rather speculative blog about hypervigilance in the body, I immediately started running into information about this. Apparently it is a thing, and there is proper research out there, and poking about with a search engine can lead you to articles and information. Hypervigilance is not simply a condition of the mind. I’m finding that just knowing this has changed how I feel about it.
I know from experience that pushing and training my mind is an option I have. I can be fairly brutal with my head in terms of what I demand of myself. Most of my coping mechanisms depend on making my brain deal with things. I know it is much harder to push myself emotionally that way. It doesn’t work at all with my body. I can force my body to ignore pain and distress, but they don’t go away. I’m increasingly suspicious that forcing my brain doesn’t really solve anything, it just moves the problems around, but that’s a post for another day.
If the hypervigilance is in my body, then I will have to work on calming my body, not forcing it to deal with things. If I want to be better. There are often issues for me around the work involved with being better, the inconvenience it might cause, and what I might have to ask of other people.
I’ve also been talking recently (in this post) about what soothes and comforts my body in the first place – and not much does. Putting the two together has at least given me the mechanics for why I can only nap with a cat. That I have issues with light is a hypervigilance thing. I don’t sleep well with lights on. But, cats calm me, and the presence of a cat can be more powerful than the impact of light.
I think one of the missing pieces in this puzzle may well be kindness. Being kind to me has never seemed like a priority. I push through fear, and pain and difficulty routinely. Feelings of safety, comfort, relaxation, release, tranquillity and ease have never been much of a priority. I suspect that part of why my body is always tensed for the next threat is that I don’t give it much time off, or recovery time, nor do I do anything much restorative after difficult experiences. That in turn depends on stories about what I should be able to do, what’s normal, what’s a reasonable expectation, and that I was probably just making a fuss in the first place.
I’m not currently sure what to do with any of this. I find it useful having explanations for what’s going on. Whether the answer is simply to accept this is how things are for me, or to look at what it would take to make changes, I am unsure.