THE SECRET BEHIND ANXIETY
– some uncommon knowledge
By Judith Richards, creator of The Richards Trauma Process (TRTP)
If you or someone you care about experiences anxiety, then you know what a dreadful and debilitating thing it can be.
The Secret Behind Anxiety
I want to share with you a “secret”, or UNCOMMON knowledge around anxiety: anxiety is NOT the issue.
Anxiety is NOT the issue. What? I know it sounds ridiculous… it may even frustrate or upset some people to hear this.
But please read on to understand why anxiety is not the issue… and how this is GOOD NEWS!
Anxiety is a SYMPTOM
Anxiety is not the issue because it is a SYMPTOM. What is anxiety a symptom of? It is a symptom of the entire being screaming ‘I’M NOT SAFE!!!’
What does that feeling ‘I’m NOT SAFE’ look like?
If you experience anxiety yourself, you will know the feeling.
It can present in many ways, just some include:
· Your mind racing and your heart pounding
· A heightened startle response
· Sweating when you need to drive the car
· An urge to run which is inappropriate
· Distress and panic in social situations
· Burning, itching, crawly or prickly sensations
· Difficulty speaking, moving mouth
· Feeling like something stuck in your throat
· Inability to think straight
· Inability to remember
Why do we get stuck in this feeling of ‘I’m NOT SAFE?’
We get stuck in that place of feeling unsafe due to UNRESOLVED DISTRESSING EVENTS (also known as trauma).
Here are some examples of how a person gets stuck in the feeling of ‘I’m NOT SAFE’:
A child in a family with a physically/verbally violent parent – just imagine that a distressing event occurs in this family. The child is afraid. The child’s amygdala fires which causes the body to release stress hormones – adrenaline, cortisol etc. The first thing that happens is that the child’s frontal lobe shuts down. (You don’t need to do higher maths when you’re running away from a lion.) The hippocampus also shuts down. Instead of the hippocampus doing its job and filing away that distressing event in your mind’s ‘library’ of things that have happened, but are OVER; that event gets stuck on a loop, getting replayed over and over again in the child’s subconscious. The subconscious runs the body. The body continues to respond as if this event is happening NOW. Consciously the child is not aware that the past event replaying as if it continues to happen is the cause of that feeling: ‘I’m NOT safe.’ The child becomes an adult. There are now many such events which have never been stored properly in memory. Instead the body, the entire being, continues to respond as if these events are still happening. Thus the overwhelming feeling of anxiety – ‘I’m NOT safe!’ Why? Because dreadful things have happened which have never been stored properly in memory and my body and whole being are responding as if these things are happening – Now.
A woman lives through a devastating bushfire – the call is given to leave now, and the woman experiences the terrible situation of packing her children and essential belongings into her car but must leave behind her home and her farm animals. This woman and her children get to safety, but the memory of that event does not get filed away by the hippocampus into the ‘it’s over and I’m safe now’ place of memory. It gets stuck. On replay. And the intense feelings of terror and panic are triggered and experienced daily… Her body and her mind are screaming ‘I’m NOT SAFE’.
A man is driving along and witnesses a car crash – he hears the screeching tyres and sees the impact of the cars and then goes to help the people in the crash. Ambulances arrive and he is able to carry on his day – safe, unharmed and just as well as he was when he left the house that day. But the memory of this distressing event is not stored correctly by the hippocampus into the place of ‘it’s over and I’m safe now’, in memory. Instead it gets stuck on that replay loop in the subconscious and this man experiences the terrifying helplessness, the fear, the urgency to assist and then the helplessness of his situation… again and again and again. He tries to get on with his life as usual, but that’s an incredibly challenging task, when his mind and body are screaming ‘I’m NOT SAFE!’
The video loop happens in the subconscious
The people in these examples are not aware that their mind has their distressing event/s stuck on replay – because it is happening in the subconscious.
Consciously, these people know that a specific event is over and that there is no danger to them now. However, what their conscious brain doesn’t realise is that they have a background track running all the time and sometimes the feelings associated with that background track break through into their conscious mind… and that is when the SYMPTOMS of that feeling of I’m NOT SAFE! show up and they experience trembling hands, the racing mind, the heart-palpitations, sweating, dizziness etc. – the symptoms of anxiety.
Compounding UNRESOLVED distressing events lead to Anxiety or Depression or OCD…
If we experience one or two of these unresolved traumas (or distressing events) then we can often carry on with minimal disruption to our everyday life – outside of triggering situations. However, when we have many of these videos loops on replay, all running together in our subconscious 24/7, then at some point it becomes too much… and we go into full blown anxiety, or severe depression, where our entire universe feel unsafe and we find ourselves in a state of fight, flight or freeze… permanently.
The sliding scale of Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression can present in small ways, on infrequent occasions… or at the extreme end of the scale, could completely take over a person’s existence.
For example, someone experiencing depression in minimally invasive ways might not speak up during team meetings at work, or might avoid social gatherings on the weekend… where as someone experiencing severe depression could find it hard to do anything because their mind is overwhelmed by the constant feeling of ‘danger’ and so they can’t get out of bed, or take a shower, or get to work.
So, what can we do about it?
What we need to do is return the whole system – mind and body – to a feeling of ‘It’s OVER AND I’M SAFE NOW…’.
How do we do that?
How do we bring someone who is constantly feeling that terrible feeling of ‘I’m NOT SAFE!’ to ‘It’s over and I’m safe now.’
There is a way, and it is called The Richards Trauma Process, or TRTP.
Created by Judith Richards, TRTP is fast, safe and effective.
TRTP is fast – generally only 3 to 4 sessions.
TRTP is safe – it does not re-traumatise as there is no need to relive distressing events.
TRTP is long-lasting – the outcomes continue to improve as time goes on.
Would you like to know more?
If you would like to know how you can access a TRTP Practitioner, please visit our online Practitioner Directory where you will find many dedicated TRTP practitioners, across Australia and other countries, who have successfully treated patients suffering with PTSD, anxiety, depression and more. https://www.therichardstraumaprocess.com/practitioner-directory/
If you are a mental health professional and are interested in learning more re becoming a TRTP Practitioner, please book a 20-minute phone call with one of our team members to find out more. https://www.therichardstraumaprocess.com/book-an-appointment/
Anxiety is NOT the issue – it is the SYMPTOM.
Anxiety is the symptom of unresolved dreadfulness that has happened.
There is a solution.
Creator of The Richards Trauma Process