Fight or flight

By | 2011/10/03

Fight or flightIn the limbic system we have a basic survival mechanism, “fight or flight”, that triggers when we’re in situations where we feel threatened. It challenges us to do one of two survival actions: fight whatever is threatening us, or run from it.

One of the focuses of RU OK day was as a means of suicide prevention – that by asking someone if they’re OK, and then helping them, you might assist them down from whatever mental ledge they’re sitting on, or corner they feel they’ve been backed into.

Suicide to me has always been a complete anathema. I’m not judging someone who goes down that path, but it’s a path that I know with 100% certainty that I’d not, even for a moment, consider. Maybe it’s the simplicity of being an atheist … if I go down that path, that’s it. I’m not going to wake up somewhere else in a better afterlife. Once I’m gone, that’s it.

What I do sometimes imagine – usually when I’m in a situation where I’m feeling particularly crowded or uncomfortable – is a strong fight or flight urge. At times I can imagine that moment where everyone’s back is briefly turned, or attention otherwise occupied, and I get up, walk out of a situation, and then just keep on walking, never looking back, never coming back.

I’d say I’m 99.99% certain that it’s not something I’d ever follow through with. Hell, the notion of 2-star hotels is enough to send shivers up my spine, so deliberately becoming homeless is not really on the cards. But that’s not to say there’s a momentary “what if” flash of processing that sometimes happens.

If you see me in a crowd looking particularly alone, or with a slightly stressed look on my face, there’s probably a good chance it’s playing on my mind.


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