Your automatic response in any stressful situation will be the one that your autonomic nervous system found most effective in the past.
The freeze response takes over when we cannot fight or run away from the situation and it is too overwhelming. This is common in children who cannot escape from stressful situations.
Let’s think about the freeze response.
- Unable to move or defend yourself
- Feeling dissociated and detached from thoughts and feelings
- Feeling helpless
Notice that these are all common symptoms of depression.
It makes sense that if someone is stuck in a freeze response, their energetic system has learned to be still, shut down, and depress energy. That vitality is not flowing through the person’s system but is frozen.
It makes sense that when we are exposed to repeated stress, this depression of energy would get worse, and when we are in a safe environment, it would start to flow. We could expect a transition period where we are physically and mentally safe, but our nervous system is overreactive to triggers that remind us of the past.
We can heal our nervous system and bring ourselves out of the freeze response. Somatic psychotherapy and yoga are wonderful places to start. Be gentle with yourself on your journey.
So many people’s nervous systems are stuck in either fight or flight (feeling anxious and stressed a lot) or dorsal vagal shutdown (where you feel depressed, numb and trapped). The most significant mental health issues we see in the West are anxiety and depression. So, look no further. These are nervous system states.
Healing the nervous system is a gentle process. The nervous system holds the energy of small and large traumas that have happened through the course of becoming an adult. I have found healing to occur in a multidisciplinary way, so I use a multidisciplinary approach to healing.
Know that healing is possible. Stay connected to this community to learn more.