Am I having flashbacks? What's wrong with me?

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Hi everyone, I just joined yesterday and am already amazed with the incredible support on this website. If no one told you today--you're wonderful, and I know you're trying your best. I'm with you.

I'm currently 22 years old. I was sexually assaulted at five years old, witnessed and continue to witness an emotionally abusive marriage between my parents, was in a three year long physically abusive relationship, and have struggled with eating disorders and self harm throughout my life.I've been diagnosed with general depression and anxiety for the past seven years, but I'm starting to think that I have symptoms that I haven't really considered as concerning, or worth talking about with my doctor, until lately.

I have vivid, crystal clear flashbacks. I have always had little ones, I think? But in high school I was smoking a lot of weed, I mean like a whole two years of being constantly stoned--until one day I got a flashback in my friend's backseat that was so suffocating I'll never forget it. Since that day, I will inevitably have a flashback if I smoke weed, and have milder ones every so often when I'm sober ("mild" meaning easier to break out of, easier to emotionally bounce back). And the thing is, I don't even know if they're flashbacks. I read a little bit about them, and people say they're "visual and vivid, like you're literally there," and I don't see things with my literal eyeballs but I'm there, and I see and feel it crystal clear in some weird alternate realm that isn't perceivable with eyeballs.

I suppose having a diagnosis would just...put a name to the terrible shit I'm going through? I know that's a toxic thing to do, but I feel like my sadness goes a little bit beyond basic symptoms of depression and anxiety. What I mean is, I fear that I don't actually have PTSD--that I'm just really sad and really f*cked up, and I'm merely floating around in some vague, un-nameable misery that can't be treated. Maybe I seek the comfort of knowing, or being able to point a finger at something and say, "Aha! I knew I wasn't f*cked up! It's because of my insert-diagnosis-here!" And if I don't have PTSD, then what the f*ck is wrong with me? Why do I have to be so much sadder than everyone else? Why can't I enjoy things and be happy like other young people? I'm not asking in a self-pitying, rhetorical way either. I'm desperately wondering. Not having a clear answer is a scarier thought than the thought of having PTSD.


Only the very worst of my flashbacks have been something like a clear visual. Many have been more of a extremely strong feeling/sense that I was re-experiencing the event with smells, tastes, etc.

That said, marijuana is, of course, a depressant and causes anxiety in some people. If you are still smoking, it could contribute to why you are sadder than others. I've never been anti-pot necessarily but I have seen it have some very strong effects on people who have underlying mental health issues, myself included. Pot doesn't give me flashbacks but it does make me hallucinate.

If you don't feel that you are getting the help that you need, there is no shame in looking for answers from a mental health professional. If you feel that you have symptoms that you have not addressed, that is a totally valid reason to have a new conversation with a doctor. It is helpful to be able to point at a diagnosis and say, hey, that's why but having a defined jumping off point for treatment options is a better reason. You may have a better chance at getting the help that you need if the actual cause of the symptoms is understood as there are different treatment options for PTSD than are usually used for depression and anxiety.

Best of luck!


Hi. It does sound like PTSD, but I would encourage you to check with a mental health professional, preferably someone trauma informed.

I am sorry you went through all that. You are not alone. Sending love.