ADRENALINE & TRIGGERS PART ONE
WE’RE GOING TO START LOOKING AT HOW STRESS AND TRAUMA AFFECTS FIRST OUR BODY, AND THEN OUR WILL.
Let’s first look at the definition of adrenaline:
adrenaline [(uh- dren -l-in)]
Note : Adrenaline plays a very large role in the fight or flight reaction, which refers to the various processes that occur within the body when it is confronted with some form of mental or physical stress.
In times of great danger or threatened danger, adrenaline gives us supernatural power to do one of two things:
- Fight (noradrenaline)
- Flee (adrenaline)
Ever heard stories where, in a time of crisis, someone has supernatural strength to overcome? I remember hearing of a woman whose baby was pinned down by a car and she lifted the car to free her child. How in the world can a petite woman lift a car that weighs thousands of pounds? It’s called noradrenaline and as it is secreted by the adrenal glands, we are strengthened beyond normal abilities to meet the threat head on.
It has been discovered that the overuse of the adrenal glands, or prolonged time in a threatening environment, (as in combat, growing up with alcoholic parents, repeated physical or sexual abuse as a child, or ongoing domestic violence) can cause adrenal glands to atrophy. Over time, dysfunctional adrenal glands create problems with the immune system and metabolism.
SO LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT HOW OUR BODIES RESPOND TO STRESS AND TRAUMA.
Sequence of Adrenal Response:
- A threat occurs
- The brain sends a message to the adrenal glands
- Adrenaline or nor-adrenaline is secreted
- The body moves into “high gear”
- The brain receives an increased blood/oxygen supply
- Your heart rate increases
- The tendency to bleed decreases
- Your eyes dilate
- Your lungs become more efficient
- The white blood cells in your body increase to fight infection
- Your digestion slows
- Your mind quickly gathers and analyses sensory information
- Response activated … you fight or flee.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S A PROBLEM!
The brain cannot differentiate between a real threat and an imagined one. So what does that mean? Well, the brain is going to tell your adrenal glands to kick into gear even if something in the environment is similar to a traumatic event in your past.
Yes, you heard me right. The brain reacts not only to a real threat, but also a perceived threat which is triggered by something in the environment, causing the adrenal response to kick in… even though the threat is not occurring in present time.
So here you are, today, and everything is normal. No stress, no trauma, but something in the environment has triggered the memory of a trauma. The urge to fight or flee is strong and if you don’t know what is happening, you’ll respond with irrational behavior as the hormones flood your body.
So here’s the deal…your body is telling you to fight or flee, but reality is that it’s not best for you to do so, and so you must learn to stand.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)
I love this scripture because it describes what we must do. Be on our guard. Understand what triggers us and see them coming, so we can stand firm in the faith. He will enable us to be courageous and strong as we seek to be more like Christ and put away the “old self” along with all its irrational responses rooted in past traumas and wounding.
As we wrap up this post, let’s take a quick look at some sample triggers and review the triggering process. Then next post I’ll share the Trigger Chart I developed to help you be on guard.
- Tone of voice
- Phrase or saying
- Sudden movements
- Someone touching you
- Having sex
- Naked bodies
SEQUENCE OF TRIGGERING PROCESS
- Trigger occurs
- Re-stimulates negative memory
- Adrenaline starts flowing
- You enter either of the following modes:
FIGHT: ANGER, RAGE, IMPATIENCE, HYPERACTIVITY,
FLEE: FRUSTRATION, WANTING TO ISOLATE, LOW SELF-
WORTH/DEPRESSION, SUICIDAL THOUGHTS
Again, I want to remind you. Yes, this is heavy stuff. But it’s reality. Many women are suffering silently and don’t know why. It may be you… it may be someone you know.
Lord, give us hearts of compassion and grace to see past the behavior and get to the pain that hasn’t yet been given fully to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.