This is the first post in a limited series about the aftermath of Bomb Drop and the typical stress response most newbies experience during the first few months. I will include the stages in the General Adaptation Syndrome at the start of each post, with the topic stage highlighted.

It has been 4 months since Bomb Drop and you are feeling like a failure as a Stander because you can’t stop panicking. You still can’t sleep and you look emaciated from the rapid weight loss. What’s wrong with you? The other Standers seem to be doing okay. They are progressing to detachment while you are puddled up in your own pity party.
Your friends and family were understanding at first, but they’re frustrated. They expect this to be hard, but it seems as though you have continued to regress. Those friends may even support your Stand, but they are at a loss.
I know it may not feel like it as you sit huddled up in fear. But you are normal; it’s time to give yourself a break. Your reactions are normal for the gravity of the situation as well as the continuing conflict with your MLCer. Your behaviours are not indicative of weakness and emotional or mental instability. You are experiencing physiologic reactions to a traumatic event that is ongoing. Of course you are feeling like everything is spiraling out of control, but your body is responding according to its programming. You have had an extreme emotional shock and are experiencing ongoing panic and anxiety which have activated your body’s Stress Response. Your initial Emergency Response has given way to a prolonged state of stress.

    General Adaptation Syndrome

  1. Emergency Response (Alarm)
    • Fight-or-Flight OR Tend-and-Befriend
  2. Prolonged Stress Response (Resistance)
    Adaptation to the new normal

    • Panic & Anxiety
    • Shock
  3. Exhaustion

Emergency Response

Your body’s immediate response to a threatening situation is to secrete adrenaline (epinephrine) norepinephrine and glucocorticoids and convert glycogen to glucose, these prepare you to act quickly in moments of life or death emergency.
Fight-or-Flight: This is the initial tendency to react to a threat by either becoming aggressive and fighting or by seeking to escape. It may start with a freeze response in order to assess the situation or include a freeze response which is a form of flight by playing dead.
Tend-and-Befriend: Release of oxytocin may inhibit fight-or-flight, promoting thought before action and relaxation and reducing fearfulness. Fight-or-flight is reactive for men and responsive for women. A mamma bear will fight to protect her cubs, but her initial response will be to shelter them from an imminent threat; in order to make her decision, she weighs the risk of leaving their side to fight against staying with them.
Both men and women have access to react or respond from fight-or-flight or tend-and-befriend, but men are more likely to react with high levels of aggression (fight) or withdrawal (flight), whereas to fight or flee is not evolutionarily advantageous for females of a species whose role it is to care for young.

    The Physiological Effects of Emergency Response

  • Accelerated pulse
  • Accelerated respiration
  • Acceleration of instantaneous reflexes
  • Inhibition of salivation
  • Pain suppression
  • Increased sensory perception and focus
  • Auditory exclusion
  • Tunnel vision
  • Increased memory formation and retrieval
  • Inhibited Digestion
  • Constriction and dilation of blood vessels
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Increased immunity
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Relaxation of bladder
  • Paling, flushing, or alternating between both

In the next post I will begin reviewing the stress response. This lasts for the first several months after Bomb Drop, having a large effect on your physical and emotional health.

Series NavigationStress Response I


Emergency ResponseNo Comments

  1. RCR–so good to see this series. It's obviously well researched. I would like to add one thing as it was very helpful for me. My therapist called this phase an adrenaline crisis. He told me our bodies can only take this phase for about 6 weeks. It's uncomfortable to think of it lasting 6 weeks when it is happening, but in the scheme of MLC, 6 weeks in nothing. He was also exactly right. After about 6 weeks my appetite began to slowly return and some of the other symptoms you've described here began to diminish. It's also good to advise people to take care of their health. It's likely that with all the stress one will become sick. It was also a bit of a relief to know that some of this would go away in 6 weeks.

    • Patience,

      Adrenaline crisis is a good term since epinephrine is adrenaline. I think it took me about 2-3 weeks after Bomb Drop to figured out how serious things were. I'd been on a diet since the previous July and was just starting to pick back up after the holiday slump. But there was no significant weight loss or change in those 1st 2-3 weeks. Then it started and it was sudden. I lost 35 ounds in 7-8 weeks and I had to buy new clothes every week-and-a-half.
      My recent post Is Divorce Just a Piece of Paper Part 2

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