The Healing Series: The Journey that Breeds Purpose
Step 1: How Adrenaline Tricks the Mind and the Heart
The new season of Grey’s Anatomy was coming in a few weeks and I needed to catch up by watching the finale of the last season. The riveting episode scene was set with a resident, Edwards purposely starting a fire to save a little girl from a dangerous patient. After the explosion, she noticed that the child’s leg was under a machine. She immediately went into savior mode and got the machine off to treat the wounded area. Edwards then placed a fire blanket over the both of them, carried the child through the fire to get out of the room, and fought to get outside of the hospital as the smoke engulfed much of the environment around them. The entire time, Edwards is so worried about the saving the child she neglects to realize that parts of the left side of her body is seared from the fire. Once they finally got to a safe haven, the child fainted from the loss of blood. Avoiding her own injuries, she performed chest compressions the entire time as they moved into the ER.
“You got her back now you need to get yourself back,” her superior said to her because she could clearly see that Edward’s wounds were serious. As soon as she received good news of the child being okay and her leg being saved, she passed out. One of the doctors yelled, “Her adrenaline faded!” Another one yelled, “That’s the body’s way of protecting itself from the pain.” I paused Netflix and begin to cry because my heart felt those words on a deeper level.
How many times have I avoided my own healing to save others? How many times has the focus of moving forward allowed me to ignore the present and past pain in my life? By the time I realized my own pain, it hit so hard that it felt unbearable. I was actually in this season when I watched this episode and realized not only does adrenaline trick our body but it also does the same to the mind and the heart.
Now that I have set the scene for the episode, I must let you know what the past 9 months of my life at this time (January-September 2017) looked like for me to feel such a connection to this episode.
I fasted in the beginning of the year to start the year in the right direction and was excited to continue in the spiritual peace I had found. Right before I started my fast, I had been psychoeducationally evaluated for the second time as my mentor thought my first diagnosis of Test Anxiety was caused by something bigger. He was right because I was now diagnosed with ADHD. The news was a double-edged sword, on one end I was relieved to know that my academic struggles was beyond me but on the other end, it hurt to know that I would need medicine if I wanted to continue my medical pursuit. I was also diagnosed with associated depression due to the effects of the pressure I had placed on myself during multiple seasons of failure. As if that wasn’t enough to lower my spirit, I was rejected for the second time from the only school I applied to. While being somewhat prepared for this news because of my recent diagnosis and understanding, it still hurt and I was now spiraling into thoughts of inadequacy. I kept convincing myself that I couldn’t go back to dark places I’ve been in because I fought so hard to get out of them. So though I was wounded, I KEPT GOING. I knew I could not dwell because if I did, all of the spiritual growth I had just received would somehow dissipate. On top of that, my job placed even more kids on my caseload. I had already had 15 kids but now would have 17, which would be hard to handle with the last 2 classes I was taking in my rigorous program. You know when it rains, it pours so as if my mental health, career dreams, and current job getting rocked by life wasn’t enough; I was experiencing some emotional pain from being let down by someone I loved. Looking back this was enough trauma to send anyone into a panic, but I just had to keep going or so I thought..
Life has a way of making you numb to the point that you do not react normally to painful situations because your mind and heart has become desensitized to the constant trauma. My ability to keep going was an indicator of a real life adrenaline rush.
Here are 5 symptoms of an Adrenaline Rush and how they related to the specific ways I avoided the pain in my life:
- Noticeable Increase in Your Strength- If you undergo an adrenaline rush, it’s likely that you will have greater strength than when you do not have adrenaline on your side.
I took on the new kids on my caseload as a challenge and went to their classes several times a week though I was only required to go once a week. I engulfed myself into saving the both of them. I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning to study for my quizzes and exams. I signed up for a medical conference and networked my tail off to receive 36 business cards (trying to make up for my past failures) in which I had to follow up with when I got back. I made myself available to any and everybody that needed advice, someone to talk to, or just sought stability. I was ready to save and do what I needed to do telling myself, “I must be strong if I continue to survive all of these trials..”. Normal me would have definitely grew tired during this season but adrenaline made me feel invincible.
- No Feelings of Pain- An adrenaline rush can also be used to protect your body. Once the adrenaline wears off, you’ll be able to feel the pain again, but for the time being, the adrenaline will stop the pain.
I was on the move and nothing was stopping me. I was tricking everybody around me including myself by making it seem like I was strong enough to keep going despite the continuous tribulations I was facing. I literally would not sit still. I woke up early and went to sleep late. I worked out when I got home from work and found things to occupy my mind until it was time to do it all over again. My wounds were clear as day but no pain felt because I did not allow myself to feel anything. I convinced myself that if I did not feel anything, I must be okay but truth is I was just numb.
- Heightened Senses- From your vision to your touch, your senses are dramatically heightened when you are undergoing an adrenaline rush.
I felt such a false sense of strength during this time. There are studies that mention how some people can lift cars during a rush. It is funny the superpowers available when your mind has the opportunity to seemingly avoid pain. I also found a false sense of clarity in things around me and felt the incessant need to love/be loved. I put my heart and emotions into risky positions because I was so vulnerable and looking for some type of stability but afraid to admit it. I was looking for a place in my life that I could be in control in and at that time, I felt it had to do with the matters of my heart. I was completely broken on the inside, but on the outside, it looked like I was living my best life. When you are running from hurt, you will often find yourself right in the same position with even more hurt to deal with than you originally had. What you to try to avoid will eventually come to face to face with you.
- Sudden Boost of Energy and Reduce of Fatigue- This is because an adrenaline rush will give you a large amount of energy as the body releases glucose and sugar directly into your bloodstream.
I traveled like crazy and though most trips were planned, it was still a lot but it felt seemingly good to keep going. I went to Hawaii, Charlotte, Amsterdam, Greece, Germany, Morocco, San Francisco, and New Orleans within a 6-month span of time. In addition, when I was home, I was so busy with ending my semester, working with my mentees, or hanging out with friends, there was no time to feel a thing. Physically I should have been exhausted but somehow I was able to do it all but at what expense to myself?
- Increased Breathing- Because everything happens so fast during an adrenaline rush, your breathing and your heart rate will jump suddenly.
Even when I tried to sit still to catch my breath from all the moving and shaking I was doing, I felt the need to find something else to occupy my time. I could rarely sit in silence, music had to be playing or wine had to be in a glass. I had to keep coping the only way I knew how: MOVE FORWARD!
I was now crying over a Grey’s Anatomy episode because it was clear I had been on an adrenaline rush in my life and I was beginning to feel the pain. It was no longer avoidable and I was still enough to finally feel it all. I knew that this process would require work on my end but I would rather work to get there than to continue to feel like this. I realized that I hurt myself worse moving around never tending to my own wounds pretending to be okay when I was falling apart internally. Unintended wounds eventually become infected both physically and emotionally. There was no point in me beating myself up about it, it was time to search myself and allow God to work through me but first learn to find the lesson in pain.
The Lesson in Pain
At the end of the episode, Edwards was in a hospital bed bandaged up and getting her burn wounds dressed, which caused her pain. Dealing with our pain can hurt just as bad as the initial pain because healing requires locating the source of the affliction. Her superior walked up to her and asked her how she was doing then let her know it would be a few weeks before she could get back to the ER. She told him, “I have been in hospitals my whole life and I need to get away from saving other people’s lives so that I can live my own.” She ended up finding purpose in her pain to move forward and to change the way she was living her life.
So when your adrenaline wears off as it did for me, the pain that the awareness process reveals can be overwhelming at first but it is important to remain calm and know that it’s going to be okay because healing is always available to you.
If you are struggling through a tough season right now and do not know what to say to God, here is a prayer.
A Prayer for Healing:
Father God in the name of Jesus, I am broken but I know that you can heal me. I have allowed myself to avoid healing because I was afraid that dealing would hurt worse than running. However, running forced me to recognize the pain and refuse to carry it any longer. Thinking of all the broken pieces scattered around my life makes me afraid to face tomorrow. Teach me not to dwell on the pain but to use my past to forge a new path for myself. Help me retrace the steps that led to my brokenness so that I can discover the lessons you want me to learn from my wounds. Help me forgive others and release them from obligations and expectations that I placed on them at the time they hurt me. Bring me clarity and show me the purpose in this pain. Thank you for placing a mirror in my life so that I can see all the places that could use your touch. I know healing will take time but it is necessary for me to move forward in your purpose for my life. I cannot do this without you and I know you do not want me to so God bring about restoration so that I can become the best version of who you created me to be. I love you and I trust you even in the midst of my brokenness. Amen.