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Is this normal - flashbacks


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Greetings,

I have a question which is a little amorphous to describe.

I've had PTSD for quite a while. While I wasn't sexually abused, I was abused by my peers. Some would call what I went through bullying, and tell me just to get over it, but almost 8 to 9 years of living in fear, always having to calculate where it was safe to go, where I could be safe, how I could minimize the pain that was inevitable. what to do, whether I could handle situations I inevitably knew would hurt me. Adults were absent, I fell into a depression. I was threatened with physical harm and had it inflicted on me. Again, adults thought my sour disposition was my own fault... the whole blame the victim thing, the abuse was my fault... etc I am still bitter over the situation. Eventually I disassociated (at least for half a year), turning my brain off just to get through the hell I was in. I have gaps in my memory.

So I've been working (finally), with a good therapist of a similar spirituality to mine, and whom I feel comfortable talking with. When we talk about trauma or how I deal with things now very intense flashes of memory come into my mind. The memories don't block out reality, but it's like looking at a television screen 2 feet from my face with feelings attached. This is a new experience. Before this time when I had flashbacks I blanked or just felt my body tense up completely. Now it's just a very broad image.

This evening (should mention I have a cold and realize this doesn't help my psyche at all, not to mention I'm achy all over), I was a bit angsty and tired and my brain for some reason decided to grab onto the memory of my being pushed down a flight of stone steps, thankfully not breaking anything. The kids who saw me just though I was clumsy, but I was pushed. I had to go to the school officer to file a complaint and the girl was suspended. I don't know why she did what she did... an for that matter with all my memories I have stop asking why, and don't even bother looking for an apology or reconciliation (which would be completely meaningless). I feel horribly fragile at the moment, can't sleep, and am uncertain of what triggered this memory.

It's true the flashbacks are there,

but is it typical that they can lose some of their physical intensity? does this mean that I'm healing or getting somewhere in therapy?

Thanks for replies in advance,

-Waterwalker :)

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I find that the flashbacks are sort of a damned inconvenient way the brain has of reprocessing, yeah. It helps to write the details down, as that changes the way the brain processes the memory, making it less emotional.

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It's true the flashbacks are there, 

but is it typical that they can lose some of their physical intensity? does this mean that I'm healing or getting somewhere in therapy?

 

I suspect this is a good sign.

 

A lot of trauma therapies are aimed at creating safety, decreasing avoidance and hyper-arousal and intrusive memories.

 

I know a lot of people here scoff at neurolinguistic programming as a pseudo-science. However, one of the helpful things I got from working with a tdoc who incorporated it was the notion of putting distance between intensive memories and the self. This process looked like

-putting a "border" around the images

-imagining the memories with the border were being projected onto a movie screen and you were in the theater watching

-imagining the sound on the movie getting scratchy and tinny

-imagining watching from the projection booth instead of the theater and the sound still being less vivid

-turning it from color into black and white

-keep making the screen smaller and smaller until it's a tiny tv screen... or alternately, imagining you're in the lobby where the movie is being played, or outside on the sidewalk, or just walking past the theater, or just seeing the name of the movie in the paper when you're looking for a movie to go to etc.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm really sorry for what you went through. It sounds like it would be very traumatic.

 

 

i did math flashcards (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) and they helped stop flashbacks while I was having them. I had an app for it. I agree with writing the details of the flashback down,  it helped me to see it written out.

Edited by Exuvia
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I get flashbacks know and then, either through body memories of being sexually abused or more recently of seeing a man who looks the same as the guy who abused me. Even though it was many years ago, some images and memories never leave you. I did some EMDR as well, which, while not easy to go through, was helpful, as I think the main thing to do is to put those memories from the here and now to the past.

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