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What is Emotional Flooding?

Discussion in 'Other Symptoms & Disorders' started by BrownEyes, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. BrownEyes

    BrownEyes Active Member

    I was wondering if someone could explain "Emotional Flooding" to me. I had an experience the other night and I think that may be what it was, but I'm not really sure.

    I woke up in the middle of the night with such intense emotional pain, and I cried for two hours. It was terrible. I can't even really describe the feeling. It was like my heart was breaking. It was just complete and utter emotional pain, and I felt like I couldn't take another second of it, but it just kept coming and coming. I couldn't seem to stop it no matter how hard I tried. I finally managed to get myself together when I had to get up for work.

    Does this sound familiar? Has something like this happened to anyone else? Does anyone know what causes it? Thank you for your replies.
    gizmo, Abrasky and Srain like this.
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  3. She Cat

    She Cat I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    For me, emotional flooding are overwhelming and intense feelings, that I can't control. They eventually turn into panic and fear, fight or flight. Takes a long time to come down from this heightened state, and after I am completely drained, to the point of exhaustion....
    gizmo, Muse and Junebug like this.
  4. TLight

    TLight I'm a VIP

    I went through about a year and a half of intense emotional flooding. Yes, what you described is what it is............very overwhelming and painful.

    It's like all the pent up stuffed crap, the anger, the pain, the sadness...........the horrendous emotional pain gets felt at a very deep level, and hopefully, released from the body.

    It's very intense and it takes a tremendous amount of energy..........take very good care of yourself during all this.............
    gizmo, Abrasky, Muse and 1 other person like this.
  5. NoOne

    NoOne Member

    i don't know if it's the same thing, but things being real bad for me right now, i get something like that all the time.. too much.. wrenching pain, real physical pain deep in the gut wanna vomit, if i'm en route i'll just stop,, exhausted, drained, can't move, barely feel my muscles even, if it weren't for the crutches i'd be sitting on the floor but instead just sink into them, even my head drops just too heavy, and just cry hard.. it sux too..

    gizmo likes this.
  6. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Yes, I think intense emotional flooding is just that, and for me it might start with one emotion, or include several, but it it is overwhelming and intense, all right. And yes, it definitely is hard to fathom when it will stop. But it will.

    I think it has a lot to do with being really triggered, either lots of them, or severe ones, combined with exhaustion.

    I find the most important part, is what I decide to do during, or after, that, whether I will "choose" something constructive, accepting this is part of PTSD, at times, or self-destructive, and feed into it/ give up.

    Much luck to you. It sure sucks.
    Enaila, gizmo, The Albatross and 2 others like this.
  7. Jagged Angel

    Jagged Angel Well-Known Member

    I was thinking I was alone on this one - when I consistently wake up from a dream and can't stop crying. I thought I was going mad, and so I haven't even told my partner about it. Now I know that I am not alone, and that it has a name.

    I tend to agree with you, Junebug, it seems to be when I am really triggered combined with exhaustion.

    It does stop, and that is what I find I need to focus on when it happens. If I tell myself that it will pass (and it does become a chant: 'it will pass, it always does') it helps me to see my way clear.
    gizmo and Muse like this.
  8. UConnclar

    UConnclar Active Member

    Weight lifted: Emotional flooding

    Hi Everyone,
    I was just recently diagnosed with PTSD from a couple traumatic events happening much too closely together. I, too, got flooded about a week ago and had the worst panic attack I have had yet.

    But, I do feel much lighter after falling apart like that. In your experiences, are the emotions so intense the next time they bubble up or was this the worst of it?

    Thanks and take care!
    meltot and gizmo like this.
  9. blackdove

    blackdove Active Member

    For me "emotional flooding" is definately anything that triggers my flight response. If, for example, someone untentionally hurts me or I think they have, then my flight response can kick in within minutes and I am all adrenalin and making huge life changes and big decisions and this can last for a 1 to 8 hours. Afterwards, I am exhausted and can't believe I went wherever the adrenalin led me. It is very consuming and frustrating with short breaths, pounding heart. I would describe it as pure fear and my body feels like it's on fire. For me, perceived betrayal is the absolute receipe for this disaster to occur.
    gizmo likes this.
  10. Fawnie

    Fawnie New Member

    So far I've had two experiences of emotional flooding. It usually feels like all or part of the Abuse is happening all over again and usually feels like a spiritual assault. Trying to process hard feelings is often the trigger. Medication helps some. Keeping busy if I'm able helps. Taking my shoes off and feeling the cold ground or tiles helps. Reminding myself that this isn't real, that I am physically safe, that this will pass helps. Totally agree with the exhaustion afterwards.
    gizmo and Junebug like this.
  11. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    Thanks for posting the question, Brown Eyes, as I really like to have a term to pin on the PTSD stuff I've suffered from for years without knowing it was PTSD behind it all.

    May I share what it was like for me, to see if it's the same thing?

    In marriage counseling once, I was unable to stop tears from coming, (usually in public I work really hard to show only pleasant emotions) because I was physically very tired (yes, the physical fatigue).
    Once I began to cry, more and more just kept coming and I could not stop although I really wanted to. I gasped an apology. The counselor asked what I was feeling, and all I can remember saying was that "I am falling into a bottomless emotional ravine, and I'm sliding down and can't stop." Thinking about stopping it felt like I was sliding so fast that my thoughts of control were like reaching out for rocks and trees that I just was sliding too fast to grasp. So the slide just continued, and yes, it was a very raw, painful experience. After that episode, I was afraid to go back to counseling as I was so embarassed to walk out of there with such red eyes, and I felt so afraid to subject myself to it again and that going would simply trigger another one.

    Is this close to the same thing?

    gizmo and Junebug like this.
  12. Heather

    Heather wonder woman I NEED YOU!!!!
    Premium Member

    I think I used to experience this too but I didn't know what it was. I would feel such intense emotions and I could feel the tears behind my eyes. There was nothing I could do to stop the tears from coming, it was excuriciatingly painful to go through and many time I really just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. This went on for months.

    The medication that I'm on now has helped to make the emotions a lot duller (thank goodness).
    gizmo, Abrasky and Muse like this.
  13. Srain

    Srain "Please don't tell me not to cry."
    Premium Member

    Is this what it is called??? I get NO relief from it just more more pain. It's a pit that is impossible to stop the tide unless I depersonalize or dissociate. I didn't know it had a name, I'm glad you brought up this post. I tried to explain this to my tdoc yesterday, that it is always with me, I've lived with it just below the surface for years and I just can't do it anymore.

    It is exhausting and in no way relieving. She suggested, if I ever feel comfortable about it, taking something from her office to remind myself (I imagine as a step to getting into my mindfulness practice) how it feels to be when I am much calmer and safer. A method to step back and away from the rim of the pit of the emotional nightmare 'flooding'.I think it is a very good idea, however, I just wasn't ready to do that just yet. Actually, the item I wanted was her name plate, coming from years and years of office working, I have every one that I ever earned - not that I'm into it for a freaky reason for it :p!

    Of course it's inappropriate to ask for hers but I love that it's made of light and dark green tiles and by someone's loving hands, perhaps I will take a picture of it or ask if she has a tiled object of similar material. Many of her items tend to be made by children which is very warming.

    Now that I have a name for it gushing painful emotion, I feel some empowerment. Thank you. I can at least feel I have some power over choosing to walking into it or stepping away, I know the difference when my gut starts aching and I feeling myself balling up in sheer unimaginable gut wrenching pain...that is not productive, it is without end.

    Please take care,

    gizmo, Abrasky, Muse and 1 other person like this.
  14. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    Srain and Heather,

    Thank you for sharing your stories of emotional flooding. Just knowing that I'm not alone with this makes me feel not crazy, but also sad that such wonderful people have to suffer with this familiar stuff. But I am learning that I am strong and wonderful, too, and healing is a natural part of life. Thank you to each and every one of you here who are actively posting, healing, and sharing! Although the stress cup is often quite full, the heart cup is on the other side of the scales and is receiveing a steady flow of compassion from each and every one of you. The balance is right for healing, for personal integration. Thanks!!
    gizmo, Srain, Junebug and 1 other person like this.
  15. Heather

    Heather wonder woman I NEED YOU!!!!
    Premium Member

    Hi Muse - I like the way you think.

    The emotional flooding for me anyway - took a long time to work my out of because I don't feel the pressure of the tears building behind my eyes anymore where I feel like I'm going to explode and I HAVE to let it out. Then I'd cry and cry for what would seem like hours.

    But what I am left with now is still being super emotional. I still cry when I watch Steel Magnolia's. I think it's an after affect from all the left over emotion. Anything somewhat upsetting opens up the floodgates and the tears start to flow.
    gizmo and Muse like this.
  16. moondust

    moondust Member

    Hi All,
    I get emotional flooding all of the time. For me it happens most whenever I feel really triggered. I usually try to redirect myself out of this emotional funk. However; it is very challenging at times. The flooding can last anywhere from a few minutes to hours. It helps me to exercise and do grounding techniques when I am flooded. Then again sometimes nothing helps and I have to deal the best I can. Best of luck to everyone who is dealing with this as it is not easy.
    gizmo likes this.
  17. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    My T. says that when I talk about my traumas, then get emotional flooding or just emotional/crying, that it's normal to feel exhausted afterwards. She said this is actually good. Then, each time I go over it verbally and let it out, it gets less and less and less overwhelming and exhausting. Until finally, it is okay to talk about it and it'sini normal range emotionally. So far, I agree, but it seems like it may take a long time for this to occur.
    Redlewis, gizmo and Heather like this.
  18. Fawnie

    Fawnie New Member

    It sounds like it to me. I'm sorry it was so hard.
    Junebug and gizmo like this.
  19. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Muse- "heart cup", that's so sweet and true.:)
    gizmo likes this.
  20. Srain

    Srain "Please don't tell me not to cry."
    Premium Member

    I LOVE this...this touches my heart in the sweetest way and brings to mind that I must surely take a breath at this moment and remember I am not alone once again when I read these true this statement.

    I know nothing until I share with another who knows pain.

    gizmo and JustBe like this.
  21. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    The thing that gets me is how badly I've needed to work on this and heal, yet how traumatic getting help is. Just crying in front of someone and having to walk out with red eyes feels like being stripped and marched for all to see. It's aweful. It prevented me from further help. I fought and got angry and made excuses because I didn't want to risk it happening again. It's even taken a decade for me to realize that's why I did that. At the time, all I knew was I couldn't risk it again. Fear of male counselors, being alone with a man, is too much. Luckily, I respect that it's a trigger now, and I want a female counselor and Dr. only. I can work within that realm and feel at least a little safer.
    I feel like beating myself up for allowing the emotional flooding to have the best of me.
    gizmo likes this.
  22. Abrasky

    Abrasky I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    That's what I have been through for the last year and a half. Hopefully getting to the end of it soon. Someone has told me it's all the memories linking up causing that pain. I think linking up memories sucks. It's like you have to go through all the pain again and then some.

    I tend to get it for 2 days at a time currently, and then it goes away and then comes back. I hate those 2 days with a passion:cry:
    Junebug, gizmo and Muse like this.
  23. Heather

    Heather wonder woman I NEED YOU!!!!
    Premium Member

    I agree with you because even after 20 years of dealing with this sh*t I'm still not there. Especially when it comes to talking about the details of the abuse. It takes me to a place where the emotions are so intense that I am unable to function and I think that's where the emotional flooding comes in still.

    I remember sitting in my therapists office and saying, "if there were any benefit to talking about what happened (details) then the benefit would've paid off when I first started talking about this stuff when I was 18". So, you're right it takes a long, long, time.
    Junebug and gizmo like this.
  24. Muse

    Muse I'm a VIP

    I'm sorry Heather. This makes sense.
    gizmo likes this.
  25. Srain

    Srain "Please don't tell me not to cry."
    Premium Member

    I have pairs and pairs of sunglasses. I put them on BEFORE walking out. That way nobody sees me. They comfort me and give me a sense of protection, silly but true. The bigger the better.

    I think I get what you are saying about having a man see you go through the emotional flooding. I thought it didn't matter male or female (I've had some wonderful male therapist in the past who have helped me very much) but reading your post and thinking back to a couple years ago, I am thinking for me it does matter with this. When I've been hit with it, I've taken to going to my safe room and locking the door with the fan on so my husband and really nobody can hear me. I remember the last tdoc I had and him just looking at me blankly as the tears flooded and my heart split into a million pieces bleeding everywhere. He said nothing, just like my husband and I could not stop, it just went on and on until tick tick...time's up! Buh Bye! No relief, nothing accomplished and all I wanted was to never go back and I felt worse than ever trying like hell to get out of there as fast as I could.

    A woman makes a difference for me, there was empathy. my tdoc is express it to me, I need that at this time. I grew up in a family where my hurt and tears had a time limit and after that I was ridiculed, shut off, shut down. I have no idea how this plays. I am way off track here, I apologize.

    I am trying to say that I believe you are on the right track and I had a similar experience without knowing it at the time.
    gizmo likes this.
  26. Fawnie

    Fawnie New Member

    Sometimes self care is triggering. I told my husband in couples counseling yesterday that I may need a period of separation since he often unintentionally hurts me and I just need a safe place. It was so hard to say that it started the flooding process but I'm starting to recognize the signs and took the medications and practiced the grounding techniques that I know and was able to not let it get out of control. That was empowering! I like the sunglasses idea Srain and totally identify with the sense of vulneralbilty Muse.
    Junebug and gizmo like this.

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