Anxiety: The Rumble Strip on the Highway of our Lives
On a lot of highways now as you are driving down the road of your life you will see to the right of that white line what is commonly referred to as a rumble strip. Also known as sleeper lines, alert strips, audible lines, wake up calls, growlers, drift lines, and drunk bumps. The purpose of these WWI Sherman tank like track marks along the edge of travel lines are to act as a safety feature to alert inattentive drivers to potential danger. The uneven surface connects with a tire and rough vibration travels through the car to the driver’s senses where hopefully they can absorb this new information and make an adjustment back to homeostasis. They can be installed along travel lanes to alert when a driver is veering out of their lane as well as placed across the driving path to alert that a needed precaution or slow down is necessary for an approaching danger spot.
Anxiety is the built in human physiological rumble strip. It is a signal normally radiating through the autonomic nervous system giving us information that one of two things is occurring. Either we are actually in danger and need extra precautions (or) that we have previously perceived ourselves in danger at some point in our lives and have conditioned ourselves to react to associated triggers that remind us of this danger. From the latter standpoint, we have in some way up regulated the nervous system into readiness and kept that mechanism active instead of down regulating the nervous system after the danger passed. So to simplify this, anxiety is either a biologically designed response to danger that helps us survive (or) it is an unresolved and conditioned past mental, emotional, or physical trauma that has never been fully down regulated completely.
So let’s assume that you suffer from anxiety. As an example, you’ve visited your general practitioner and have received a prescription for Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan or any member of the Benzo (benzodiazepine) Family which are a class of psycho-active drugs that work selectively on GABA to do what? Well basically to block our awareness of the naturally occurring rumble strip of information that our body is communicating to us. You see anxiety is the guide of what needs healing. Are there times when adjusting our nuerotransmitters can be helpful? My answer as a trauma specialist is it can be a very temporary fix like anesthesia during surgery and pain killers after but keep in mind that anxiety is the body’s way of telling you something needs attention and it is that awareness of how we are holding our pain that is the guide towards healing.
So let’s say that you hear and understand what we just said about anxiety but it is still overwhelming. If you say I can’t or shouldn’t take anxiety meds because they shut me off from the communication of my body then how do I reduce my suffering due to anxiety? For that I suggest you join our mailing list here (or) apply for a deep dive coaching session if you have an interest in working with a trauma/anxiety specialist and of course stay tuned for an upcoming article on the topic: How to reduce the suffering of anxiety without medications.