Triggers. When a person’s life is disrupted by severe feelings of anxiety or fear, there is usually something beneath the surface that has triggered this reaction.
An undesirable thought or memory that has been lurking in the recesses of his mind has suddenly taken root.
What has brought it to the surface? It could be any number of things like a sound, smell or scene. Or perhaps it could be the experience of another person’s words, tone or actions.
From normal, everyday activity to extraordinary feats, a person can suddenly find himself facing overwhelming feelings that stop him in his tracks, causing panic to set in and his mind to freeze.
A person doesn’t always know why she is feeling this way, she only knows that the feelings are powerful, consuming, difficult to face, and very real. The stronger these feelings become, the more they can begin to tear at the very core of the individual, taking away her strength, courage and self-confidence.
When the senses are attacked like this, the struggle to maintain a semblance of normalcy and composure can intensify.
For those unaffected by such severe emotion, it can be puzzling to understand what is happening to their friend, acquaintance or family member.
Imagine for a moment that you are walking in the woods and suddenly came face-to-face with a large wild animal. What would you do in the next few moments? How intense would your fear be? How would you defend yourself?
Now imagine that kind of fear and a world of hurt piercing your heart, not for a few moments but on a continual basis. Imagine feeling so overwhelmed that your pounding heart feels like it might burst. And imagine there seems to be no relief in sight.
It may be hard to imagine, but this kind of experience is very real to many people here in Madison County as well as across our nation. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults, or 18 percent of our population.
Severe fear and anxiety may be very prevalent in our society, but these illnesses are also very treatable. These beasts do not need to keep people frozen in their tracks for a lifetime. With the guidance of a mental health professional trained in these areas, a person can face those fears, release those anxieties, and move forward to embrace the type of life they were born to live.
Curt Gillespie is CEO of Mental Health, Alcohol & Drug Services for Madison County, located at 210 N. Main St. in London. He can be reached at 740-852-6256; www.MHSMC.org.