Hypervigilance the healthy way

I see myself always trying to work everything out. I see my desperate need to understand everything that’s happening all the time. With me and with other people too.

When I first began the journey of chronic fatigue, this need to understand and know and be on alert with everything with my body – emotionally and physically – was kicked to an all time high. And I think it’s kinda stayed ever since. “If I’m not on guard and assessing everything that’s happening outside of me and inside of me, all the time, I’m fucked”. It’s like a survival. A hypervigilance to protect myself from being hurt and falling more ill from something I’ve eaten, taken, done, or from external environmental factors or people factors.

It’s a hypervigilance from the trauma of physically falling apart. That’s what chronic fatigue does, and is. It’s a motherfucking elongated trauma. Of course there’s hypervigilance from my childhood days, but that shows up in different ways in my life. This hypervigilance is all about me being alert with myself and my own experience. I am constantly checking in with, and noting down, what happened and why I feel like I do. “I feel nauseas today because this happened…I feel anxious today because this happened…seeing that person for too long had this effect…working with that trauma in therapy had this effect and if I do this it helps, if I do that it makes it worse…eating this after doing that makes me feel ill…watching this documentary makes me feel like this, watching that one makes me feel like that…if I work with that trauma in therapy and then do this, it makes me feel like this, but if I do that then it makes me feel like that…”

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That’s so not as specific as it could be. It’s literally so minuscule and so constant through my days and weeks, with so many little details that it’s so fucking exhausting. But, a big part of the hypervigilance is really beautiful. A big part of it is protective. A big part of it has helped me through this journey massively. But also a big part of it does not need to be there. I’ve thought it does, but I’m slowly wondering – and actually knowing deep inside – that perhaps, this journey of healing and journey of self discovery happens whether I’m ‘on it’ or not. I’ll never be someone who just doesn’t notice or isn’t self aware, but it feels as though perhaps I’m leaning towards a place that is letting go. A letting go of the constant hypervigilance of what helps me and what doesn’t. A trust in myself and a trust in my ability to do this, and ride these waves, whatever my hypervigilance is doing.

I see that this last year has happened and healed, and obviously fucking sucked too, but that despite my constant worrying and fear and working everything out, things still happen at the right time. Life still brings me what I need when I need it, whether I’ve been worrying about it forever or not. I notice it happening with my health. I’m still okay even though some days I don’t take all my supplements. Some days I don’t eat all the things I need… I’m still here and in fact, when I do high jack my daily routine a bit, I feel so much less stressed and on alert with myself.

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It’s a balance but I think it’s a balance I’m slowly starting to get a grips with. And I think it’s a balance that applies to the hypervigilance with my process. Things feel so out of control yet I desperately think that if I just keep on guard all the time, I can have an element of control and I can make sure things don’t get worse. I can make sure I get through this process as quickly as possible. But that’s what’s changing too – a trust with time. A trust that actually maybe this whole healing business takes time? Already so much has healed and so much has changed but I can’t just get from A to B and be sorted…maybe it’s matter of going from A to L to F to K to G to Z, but whilst that’s happening I always know I’m on the alphabet. So just like this journey – I know I’m healing, and things are going to ebb and flow and be ever changing. So much so that I don’t need to always keep up to date with what helps every second of the day because, I will just do the healthy element of that naturally. Otherwise I just want to fall asleep.

A friend once said, “no wonder you got a job in research, you analyse everything!” Maybe my research project of myself is a lifelong one but it doesn’t have to be a full time fucking job.

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4 thoughts on “Hypervigilance the healthy way

  1. Hey,
    Awesome post. This is exactly what I needed to hear TODAY. It’s something I’ve been trying to sort out, too, lately… The balance between constantly tracking and analyzing and just “going with it” and trusting. I think that, for me, staying hyper-attentive and self-involved and analytical has been necessary- to a certain extent- and then after this extent it becomes SPIRITUALLY DRAINING.
    I am thinking that, now that I’ve been in this perpetual-regulatory-mode for a year, I need to find healthy escape and just “feel free” and trust that- even if I slip up and eat the wrong thing or don’t get to bed at the same time every night- that I am still moving in a positive direction. Without “wiggle-room” I am beginning to feel very trapped by the limitations and regulations that I choose for myself in light of CFS. It’s exhausting to always have this inner-analysis. I like to be present in the moment and not worried about fitting it into my understanding of CFS and the future.
    It’s a balance, like you said. I’m rambling. What I really wanted to say is just THANK YOU for this post. I really dig what you’re saying.
    Best of luck on everything 🙂

    • Wow that is so amazing to read – thank you! It’s exactly how I feel too! As you probably gathered from my post 🙂 It’s funny because with CFS there is definitely an element of really needing to be just so ‘with yourself’ and on alert, as it turns around all the energy that has been going outwards, and brings it inwards again. But, like you so well put, you need some wiggle room, and I do think that when this wiggle room happens at the right time it just can so feel the most healthy thing, ever. But it’s at the right time, for sure. If I think back to a few years ago, I desperately needed the full on focus to be on every little thing I ate, did, etc. But now as I feel a bit more whole in myself, I feel able to let go a bit. Or at least just notice how much freer I feel when I do.
      Thank you for words and i’m glad the post helped, xx

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