Has anyone read Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella? Currently reading it at the moment, and it’s one of the truest depictions of anxiety I’ve read in quite a while – not least down to the description of Audrey’s “lizard brain”:
“So the one I could really do without is the lizard brain. Or the “amygdala,” as it’s called in the books. Every time you freeze in fright, that’s your lizard brain taking over. It’s called the lizard brain because we all had one of these even when we were lizards, apparently. It’s, like, prehistoric. And it’s really hard to control. I mean, OK, all bits of your brain are hard to control, but the lizard brain is the worst. It basically tells your body what to do through chemicals and electrical signals. It doesn’t wait for evidence and it doesn’t think, it just has instincts. Your lizard brain is totally not rational or reasonable: all it wants to do is protect you. Fight, flight, freeze.
So I can tell myself rationally that talking to Linus in the same room and everything will be fine. No worries. What’s the problem? A conversation. What could be dangerous about a conversation?
But my stupid lizard brain is all, like, “Red alert! Danger! Run away! Panic! Panic!” And it’s pretty loud and convincing. And my body tends to listen to it, not to me. So that’s the bummer.
Every muscle in my body is taut. My eyes are flicking around in fear. If you saw me now you’d think there was a dragon in the room. My lizard brain is in overdrive. And even though I’m telling myself frantically to ignore the stupid lizard brain, it’s kind of hard when you have a prehistoric reptile banging away inside your head, yelling “Run!””
It’s one of the big bits I remember from the panic attacks.
You’re fine. You’re OK. There’s nothing here that could possibly hurt you.
Rationality has nothing to do with anxiety though. The lizard brain takes over and convinces you, even though you can’t see it, that’s something is going to get you, until the only choice is to run.
Or to burst into loud, noisy tears.
I’m pretty good at both.
Well, less so the running, more the running away.