The challenge
Her Journey
    The wearing tension of wariness
    The overwhelming attacks
    The gradual solutions seemed not enough
The "big" solution
    The effects
    My comments
What she says
    The past
    No accumulation of tension
    Interactions with others
    No longer afraid of dating
    Feel great - and capable!
    Gratitude and appreciation
    Ready for life!


Perhaps from the notes that I took of what Barbara shared with after her new dawning, you will get the idea of the impact of all of this.  But, I think, it might be useful for you to read the more vivid description, called
My Journey Of Terror, And, Finally....


There are at least two major components of Barbara's major challenge, both of which are hard to describe at the level that it can be fully understood.

For the last more than 5 decades, Barbara has been caught in a web of constant anxiety and fear of "attack" and of fatigue that was disabling at times. 

Given that fear, and the constant restimulation of that fear, her fight/flight alarm systems were hypersensitized and almost always in a mode of hypervigilance.  And when the alarms went off, the effects seemed to be absolutely devastating, such that she often experienced utter terror which is impossible to adequately describe. 


In seeking solutions, she studied the self improvement disciplines, trying them but never quite getting to experience success for very long before returning to the depths.
She did progress from the days of crying up to shorter period of "downness".  Her progress was recognized by her psychologist friend of 16 years, who counseled her over the phone at no cost but with great caring.  He tried to convince her that she was moving forward.  But she had difficulty not being discouraged due to the constant squeeze this syndrome put on her.

She became knowledgeable about physical health and sought solutions to chronic fatigue syndrome, fatigue in general, low thyroid, etc., and etc.  Some helped a bit, but still did not solve "the problem."

It is interesting to not that while she was still in "the problem", it was, understandably, difficult to acknowledge how smart she was due to her seeking knowledge for so long.  With this new dawning, she actually acknowledged that perhaps there was a great benefit from all she had to learn in her quest, whereas, before, she could never focus on anything but having had a "bad past" and how that determined her life.  (In my attempts to offset that "belief", without much success, I wrote such things as Bad Past, Good Life, which is in the Inspiration section under People/Heroes.)


The kind of "hypertension" that Barbara has had is not the blood pressure type but the ongoing tension  and holding that causes a state of virtually being unable to relax, resulting in a virtually ongoing state of  hard, tense muscles.  She has been setting off danger signals, including many extreme danger signals.  Her primary modus operandi is hypervigilance or one of self criticism, all sources of tension, where she is often in a fight or flight response. 


The conditioning over time caused certain perceived dangers to be kicked up to the level of extreme danger, which, of course, created extreme reactions.  Indeed, rage and/or extreme panic seemed to come upon her suddenly, without warning, causing either a striking out ("fight") at someone or something or a panic ("flight") reaction, usually resulting in hyperventilation that was experienced as being as bad as a "gran mal seizure, per Barbara.


With a "huge" problem to solve, the "little" solutions seemed too weak and too late.
Rewiring the brain through relaxation, deep breathing, new beliefs, an updated philosophy, cognitive behavior learning, etc., all seemed to be "ok" but not so great.   And waiting for the cumulative effect of the combination and the practice over time seemed to be "too long". 


As in The Use Of Chemicals To Reduce Depression And Anxiety, anxiety drugs solved the momentary challenge, but had side effects that were undesirable.  But overwhelming fear drove her occasionally to use them - and then she fought valiantly to wean herself off of the drugs (before another compelling need to use them).

Then anti-depressants helped to take some of the "edge" off, but did not solve the level of fight/flight response of terrorizing situations.  She still suffered from fatigue from her hypertensively holding her body, with muscles knotted as hard as iron.

And then she revisited a topic she's looked at years ago about beta blockers, a known anxiety reducing drug, that had been used extensively by actors and musician for "performance anxiety" [which is exactly what Barbara was experiencing]. 

And, it worked. 

The primary benefit of beta blockers is that they reduce (or eliminate) the fight or flight response, which is a perfect match for what she was experiencing.  (See The Use Of Chemicals To Reduce Depression And Anxiety.  Various "chemicals" can produce miracles for certain people.  It is a mystery why this was not prescribed for her, as it is not a "secret" at all and would seem to be on the standard protocol list for what to try.)


One of the miracles for Barbara, besides the great benefit below, is that the beta blockers allowed her to experience a letting go of the muscle tension, for the first time in many, many years. Her ongoing tension and holding of muscles contributed to all sorts of symptoms producing such things as "chronic fatigue syndrome", tiredness, and even contributed to her constant state of hypervigilance to protect herself even more. 

But the greatest was that she found that she no longer panicked into hyperventilation when in former triggering situations.  Conversation actually seemed easier and she was far more able to express herself and keep her mind productively engaged without the "shut off" of the brain and the super-lack of oxygen in panic attacks. 


I believe that "pain" of any sort is a dominating force for anybody, one that occupies much of the brain in order to be dealt with.  Also, having experienced hypoglycemia and utter exhaustion also, I remember the wanting left over from having short days, which did not produce enough satisfaction or productivity.  And trying to operate while under fatigue is something we cannot do well under, plus, as one famous coach said "fatigue creates cowards of us all" - we simply do not have the resources either physically or psychologically, as we have an "empty tank" to draw from.

With the relieving of the physical "cues" of fear, there will be less to fear, and with the relieving of the constant threat of having an "episode" plus the threat of being isolated, I see Barbara's whole life rising up to a much higher plateau, but without the super depths of the roller coaster, without the superterror and superdiscouragement.

This is, indeed, a new dawning, one of great possibility from which to create what she wants in her life - and to just experience the greatness of what she already has, which becomes apparent without the competing force of such negative extremes.


I could not possible convey what she has told me, so this is the best version of what I can come up with from my notes, though I think there is some value in the "look back" in the piece called My Journey Of Terror, And, Finally....

In an immediately prior conversation the week before, one statement she made was (based on her misinterpretation that she thought I thought she was just being a victim):  "I would like to be recognized for the courage and the work I've done!"

(At this time, let me re-acknowlege you, but perhaps in a clearer manner than before:  I completely acknowledge you for the gargantuan effort and will that it has taken for you to fight this heroic struggle and to overcome the overwhelming challenges!  You've done great work and shown remarkable knowledge and intelligence and garnered a great endurance.  I absolutely honor you for all of that and for the person you have become [and created].)

The past

"My life has been very horrible for decades.  And that is not a story."

"I have always said that this is worse than being in a wheelchair."

I now have a part of me that is saying I no longer am wondering what life would have been like without all of this.  Look at all I have learned!  That learning was valuable!

No accumulation of tension

From using beta blockers (Propranolol), the physiological relaxation that has been produced is remarkable.  "My muscles are loose for the first time I can recall.  My aches and pains are gone." "I have no accumulation of tension during the day!"

"I am amazed I am as resilient as I am."

Interactions with others

With three people the other day, I only experienced garden variety insecurities, had no HV (hyperventilation) for 4 hours straight of great conversation. 

I feel secure now because I know I will not panic.  [!!!!!!]

If one conversation doesn't go well, no big deal.  [A "coping" statement that didn't work before, because she couldn't believe it.]

It lets all the warmth inside me come out to others.  I am not pre-occupied.  I am not feeling judged anymore (before I always felt judged).  I don't feel any of that self-consciousness.  I don't have to worry.  Everything will come out all right, not concerned.

I am no longer nervous with my doctors.  I can see them, who they are, with complexities and some costs for their having focussed in one area so much in their lives.

I have dropped this whole competitive thing.  I feel I can handle myself and realize that I have so much.

No longer afraid of dating

I feel like I can date whoever I want!  [Before, it caused HV.]  I know I am capable of all kinds of good conversation.  I am no longer desperate and needy.

Feel great - and capable!

The other big shocker - I feel so great that I don't need anti-depressants!

I have never been more rational and more positive in my life.   I believe the Tony Robbins statement:  I can do anything I want, whatever it is [I need only find out what those who succeeded before me have done].

I don't feel I need amy more psychotherapy.  I have no hypersensitivity.  It has take away all the worry.  There is nothing added when I have a bad thought now.

Yes, I am sad about why this didn't happen sooner in life, that it had to wait 50 years, but now I know I will be ok.

Gratitude and appreciation

My really good stuff is rising to the surface, my brilliance. 

Now I don't have to develop gratitude.  It just comes naturally.

Ready for life!

And now that I am free of the fear and anxiety I want to be very selective about my time and only at age 64 do those things I really want to do!!

I am just ready to live now. 

Yes, there will always be issues in life.  I'm up for it!

If someone doesn't like me, so what!

I feel capable, not at all desperate.  I no longer have to engineer everything.  I am confident I can engage anyone in conversation and know I can have friendship and a relationship.