What is “High Alert”?

I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like on here, but I know that my absence is in good faith. For the past three weeks, I’ve been on “high alert,” as I like to call it, due to circumstances out of my control.

As a person who has G.A.D, I usually find myself in this state when I’m in a new situation, a new (or triggering) environment or in the presence of others. Funnily enough, within three weeks, I was in all of these conditions, so I’m not surprised that my anxiety went through the roof. I’ve been so sensitive to my surroundings that my initial reaction was to just cocoon and let the world continue in the background, but I had responsibilities…

It started with my baby shower, and even though I was surrounded by people that love and support me, I was still anxious. I wish I could pinpoint WHY I felt this way but I can’t – my body just automatically felt like I was going to be in some danger, so I started showing physical symptoms (sweating & fast heart rate) even though there was nothing to worry over. I chalked it up to my pregnancy when others noticed, but I did confide in my husband and best friend.

The following weekend I had family obligations in Montreal. Montreal, for me, is a triggering environment since the majority of my trauma happened in this city. Luckily for me, I was only in town for a day, but that doesn’t negate the fact that my anxiety increased and fear set in. I was in the city to say goodbye to my beloved Grandmother who passed on earlier this year, so when I was becoming emotionally withdrawn, I was able to chalk this one up to my grievance. I saw family that I hadn’t seen in years, and even though it was nice to see them again, all I wanted to do was go back home.
As soon as we were on the road heading back to Toronto, a lot of my emotional and behavioural symptoms were subsiding, so I figured I would quickly feel better.

I didn’t immediately.

Now that I’m on my third week feeling like this, I started to look up my symptoms. It turns out, this is called “Hypervigilance” and is quite common for people with Anxiety, PTSD and Schizophrenia.

Here are some of the common triggers:

  • feeling trapped or claustrophobic
  • feeling abandoned
  • hearing loud noises (especially if they’re sudden or emotionally charged), which can include yelling, arguments, and sudden bangs
  • anticipating pain, fear, or judgment
  • feeling judged or unwelcome
  • feeling physical pain
  • feeling emotional distress
  • being reminded of past traumas
  • being around random, chaotic behaviours of others

so, what can you do if you find yourself in these situations?

  • I would talk to your doctor or therapist first so they can help with treatment. If you’re in a situation like me where you can’t take medication – the best thing you can do is be mindful.
  • Remember to take deep breaths (I have some breathing videos saved on my phone for these situations)
  • Before reacting to anything, pause and reflect. Taking this small step can help avoid any further issues or symptoms that you are feeling
  • Acknowledge how you feel NOW and remind yourself that you won’t feel this way forever.

I’m on the path to feeling better, but I think that everything is amplified due to my pregnancy.
I tried to take my mind off of things yesterday by organizing the nursery, but that just brought me into a hormonal cry over hanging up baby dresses next to my full-length ones. To be fair though, I’m crying over commercials that I see on T.V anyways!
I don’t have any more obligations to attend for the remainder of the month, so I’m hoping with this “time off” that I can recharge and get back to my old self.

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