By Holly Lochinger | Tiny Buddha
“Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen.” ~Shakti Gawain
I woke up screaming—not just any scream, but a blood-curdling sound that could have woken the dead.
My throat was searing with pain, and my pajamas were stuck to me from being so damp. After a minute or two, my heartbeat slowed and I lay back down, still shaking. It wasn’t a nightmare; I couldn’t even remember what I had dreamt.
This behavior sounds weird, but it was not an infrequent episode in our house. The week prior I’d woken up in the bathtub.
My mum would often say, “Do you remember what you did last night?” I would have no recollection whatsoever—unnerving and also frustrating.
I was experiencing what doctors refer to as “night terrors.” As a child, it was just the norm—sleepwalking and waking up screaming in the middle of the night. It’s only looking back now that I can provide a logical explanation for it.
You see, I had a fairly average upbringing, nothing traumatic about it, except I was always a worrier.
I felt different from other children and liked to keep myself to myself. There I would be in the playground reading a book, while others played. I was a bit of a loner and I got singled out for it. I was also quite plump as well.
The Beginning of My Anxiety
I went through many changes with my parents getting divorced, moving a few times, and both my mother and father remarrying again very quickly, all within a short space of time.
I took it all in my stride and never consciously felt any real stress or tension—or so I thought.
In hindsight, I am well aware that my brain was in constant overdrive and found a way of dealing with the anxiety that I had managed to suppress. This all came bubbling to the surface subconsciously during times of deep sleep.
Although from time to time I still wake up screaming, the sleepwalking has stopped and the night terrors have subsided. What helped? I’ve learned how to calm my mind, and now I no longer have heart palpitations and panic attacks during the night.
The brain is so powerful, and the one major organ in the body that cannot be fully explained. Through my own personal experiences, I have discovered ways to work with my brain so I have more control over my thoughts and behavior.
I will elaborate on this, but first I would like to tell you another story to prove just how powerful our minds are.
The Mind/Body Connection
Last year, one of my closest friends began to feel tingling all over her body. It would come and go in waves but was mainly focused on her hands, feet, and back.
I’d known my friend for years, and she always struck me as confident, strong, and ‘together.’
For months she suffered these symptoms and saw several doctors, consultants, and neurologists. She had numerous blood tests and scans, just to be told there was nothing wrong with her.
My friend was at her wit's end, constantly on Google and convinced she had a severe neurological condition such as MS. Nobody believed she and everyone (including myself) assumed she was being a hypochondriac.
My friend did not give up. She continued in her pursuit, getting a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth opinion—as many as it would take until someone could give her an accurate diagnosis and actually help her.
Eventually, she found a specialist and neurological consultant in London, who explained that she did have a neurological condition, but it was more of a disorder than a disease.
My friend had an unstable childhood and always felt unloved and unwanted. Having carried around many insecurities for years, and having excessively worried about everything, she had developed a disorder whereby her nervous system was in a constant state of shock, known as the “fight or flight mode.”
She was diagnosed with a psychosomatic illness and then referred to a counselor.
In laymen’s terms, there had been a severe psychiatric disturbance in my friend’s brain, which had built up over the years primarily due to stress and anxiety. With no means to channel or express these feelings, her nerves had become highly sensitized, mimicking symptoms similar to those of MS and Parkinson’s disease.