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Flashbacks? What's the deal


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For a really long time there has been speculation by some of the doctors in my life that I may have been sexually abused when I was really young but I have no recollection of it. They imagine that it either occured before I was 5, or not that long after and either I'm not capable of remembering because I was too young, of I've blocked the memory because it's too painful.

The problem is, I think the memory may be coming back? Is that even possible? Has anyone else had that happen? I was really sleep deprived and in a lot of pain the other night and I swear to god, I had a flashback that i was being attacked that was so bad that I was screaming things like "stop, that hurts, don't touch me" etc. My fiance finally realized what was going on and pulled me off the bed (I was just laying there) and hugged me to try and calm me down and for about the first 5-10 seconds I didn't even know it was him and was trying to get away.

I'm really bothered by this and it's going to be a bit before I see my tdoc. Any advice? Anyone had something similar happen to them?

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i haven't had memories or anything pop up that had been speculated on but of which i had no recollection until a sudden moment, but things do fill out in time through a series of snatches of memory in the flashbacks. i'll see this piece and that piece, and be able to put it together. i always knew the incident happened and remember large, very accurate and extensive parts, but the details will come back in those snatches (along with further "reminders" or recollections of stuff i already remember that just haunt me, blah blah blah. ).

keep talking about the stuff that bothers you. whether or not you have anything there to remember, you do have underlying issues that need to be aired and clarified.

;)

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Yeah, actually.

My nightmares, flashbacks, and dissociations started/escalated in the past year when I was finally with someone that really was trustworthy and safe.

When something other than a narrative memory is triggered (it could be a feeling or a visual, for example), the "memory" is very short each time and it varies (sometimes vague, sometimes quite clear). Following that, I'll just feel awful and not really know why. The thing is, I can't separate stuff at this point; Sex from abuse, the second rape from the 3rd, person 2 from person 4, etc. I know about the crap that happened after I was 13. But sometimes I'll get some kind of memory or whatever it is that is very inconsistent with what happened during any of those encounters.

It's bothered me too and I didn't really know what to think.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately and it's very similar to what Loon is saying. Basically, it seems that some memories aren't ready to be dealt with (variety of reasons - safety, drugs, other mental issues, or haven't yet dealt with the more minor stuff) so you don't remember them right away. Once you address whatever is in the way, the other memories may come back. Of course, it also may be that some will never come back (in narrative form at least). Perceptual memories will come back first and are very trustworthy.

This is where I got some of my info. The link to the van der Kolk article was especially good.

http://www.kalimunro.com/article_survivor_memories.html

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My experience is very similar to Loon's. Things started as disconnected images and sounds, nightmares, dissociative episodes and panic attacks. It has progressed to where I have some very clear memories of somethings. Others are still in the snippet stage. As time goes on, more comes back.

So what you're experiencing is perfectly fine. It sucks. And it hurts like hell. But other people have gone through the same things.

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Thanks you guys for your kind responses and sorry to hear you have all had to go through something similar. Last night was really bad, I was afraid to even be in the bedroom in the dark and just kept crying but couldn't pinpoint why. I ended up being awake until the morning and now feel incredibly guilty for ruining my fiances night (he stayed up with me trying to help me) because today was his birthday. I try and feel good that I have someone who loves me that I can trust...but I just spend most of my time being afraid that if I fully remember everything and it's really bad, he'll leave me.

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  • 1 month later...

I have had memories like you have had, and for me, there were a couple different types. It would usually start with a feeling that something bad was about to happen. Then I might start seeing an image of something, it could be something as innocouos as a hand, or hearing a phrase being repeated over and over. Then later I would get the full memory of an event and see it happening. Or, I would have a flashback, which was more intense, and it was like I was totally reliving the incident, not in the present at all, hearing/seeing/feeling everything as it had been in the past.

For a while, I was having lots of flashbacks, and it became easier to deal with because it was happening so often. Now when I have a memory, it really messes with me and takes a while to recover.

My recommendations for recovering/feeling safe after a memory: find something that you can associate with feeling good or being comforted. I used to have a very soft, thick blanket that I would wrap around myself afterward. An incest survivor I knew used this thick furry bathrobe to help her through flashbacks. I also had a couple of special stuffed animals that I would hold that made me feel better. Eating something is often grounding, so I would eat something yummy- chocolate is always good for comfort! Also if you have a special chair or comfy bed that can help, if you have something to snuggle into.

Good luck to you, I know it is rough. Know that you are not alone and you can get through this!

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...... I was really sleep deprived and in a lot of pain the other night and I swear to god, I had a flashback that i was being attacked that was so bad that I was screaming things like "stop, that hurts, don't touch me" etc. My fiance finally realized what was going on and pulled me off the bed (I was just laying there) and hugged me to try and calm me down and for about the first 5-10 seconds I didn't even know it was him and was trying to get away.......

I don't get flashbacks, but I trigger on emotional cues. If you are sleep deprived and in pain, it may mirror how you felt when you were attacked. The key, I am learning, is to avoid those emotional cues. Mine is guilt, and feeling helpless when someone is in need (that is why I purposely try to avoid some topics on this site - I can feel the pain on this site...makes me wonder why so many people have to suffer).

An EMDR specialist tried to find resolution with my 'loose' emotions by logically bringing the trauma to a close (i.e. I had no reason to feel guilty that my Mom died, even though I fervently wished her dead - Oh god, I prayed for it! As a ten year old kid, I was deathly fearful of my own parents). I guess I am too stubborn to accept it. Or maybe I needed more sessions. Fucking painful though (EMDR).

One thing I do know, it is hard to carry around emotional baggage like this...shit, I watched two movies over the past two days which feature 'loss' as the plot. It just opens the emotional wound. I logically try to bring myself down, but there is something about misery being a playmate with self-pity; sometimes I just can't contain it.

In a nutshell, GreenGal, you experienced similar emotional cues of your trauma. I'd give EMDR a whirl, or as some pdoc's have suggested, avoid the emotional cues at all cost. They say it can do more harm than good reliving trauma. Closure brings up a four letter word. haha

I really babble.... ;)

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