“Time to Fight!” “Wait, no I’d rather not.” “Time to run!”
By the time you read this line you’ll probably think I’m in real-time war or just at war in my own head. It’s actually neither. Unfortunately, because of my amygdala (located in my brain), I don’t know the difference between a safe situation and a dangerous one. Everything from hard breathing to a pounding heartbeat has me feeling distressed and scared without a threat in sight. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Fight or Flight.
Growing up in the impoverished neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, I’ve experienced many of these episodes for different reasons. More than not, my Fight or Flight system deemed accurate. From the daily bullying to the sound of gunshots around the corner, my system kicked in at the right times. Consequently, it would turn on during regular conversation when the other person brought up an opposing point of view. In the blink of an eye, my heart would pound and my head would become hot as if I’d used hot sauce for hair conditioner.
Why? You may ask. We’ll I’ve just recently figured it out myself. As a Psychology major, I’ve recently read an abundant amount of material about the brain and its affects on human behavior. There’s a certain part of the brain called the amygdala. This set of neurons control your “Flight or Flight” response system. After this portion of the brain is activated, your brain’s parasympathetic system’s job is to return your body back to homeostasis. Sadly, mine doesn’t work that way. Once angry, my episode lasts for the next few hours.
With introspection, I’ve come to believe that this is due to constant trauma I’ve experienced over the years. My brain has developed an official “attack” mode toward the world and its oppositions. I’m not sure how long this will take me overcome. However, I’m ready to learn how to fight back!