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Coping with Disconnected Memories and Sudden Realizations

KayW

Confident
I feel like I'm on an endless cycle of disconnecting from traumatic experiences to the point where, although I know they happened to me, they have no sense of reality or personal connection.

Then something will happen and I go through a feeling of shock like realising for the first time that I experienced those traumas. It's not necessarily a reminder of the event (a PTSD trigger) that brings that realisation - this time it was my therapist asking me how real the traumas seemed during a session.

It's the sudden change when I really feel like I'm going mad. I just wondered about other people's experiences, what is it and what do you do about it?
 
i started therapy about 20 years before the ptsd theories gained the respectability to displace the long traditional "shell shock" theories in the military circles. the vast majority of my formal psychotherapy was for bi-polar. when we came to the day when ptsd became my official dx, the clinic counselor asked if i wanted to jump the hoops to declare the bipolar an official misdiagnosis. i couldn't see the point to jumping those hoops. "at the very least, ptsd is a malady of extremes."

for what it's worth
the tools i learned in bipolar therapy work nicely for managing these extreme mood swings. i still feel them often, but can typically get them under control before they escalate.
 
I’m currently dealing with this also

earlier in healing I would get very scared when this would happen

It lessens over time as you gain strength and create new experiences to remember

Happy memories -

hope you feel better.

Also as you mentioned it’s not quite a trigger episode it’s similar though. So grounding is best. Lots of self care. Please ignore if not helpful I’m out of it
 
DEFINITELY relate to feeling mad when things that aren’t an issue? Suddenly “become” an issue, out of context. 😵‍💫

Ditto in reverse. But that’s mostly triggers and stressors… and worlds colliding… from the other side of things.
 
For me I had to emotionally disconnect and numb the traumatic experiences. My therapist asks me to take it easy because I've been through a lot. Then I get overwhelmed with my brain trying to work out which part was a lot so last time I went through and wrote a time line down to get it out my head and on paper. Turns outs it definitely is a lot and cleared my head and understanding of how many traumatic experiences I did go through. It helped but was also confronting. I think the going mad (I call it chasing the white rabbit, Alice in Wonderland reference) is the brain and body disregulating because of disassociation at these times. My body go through so much shock and needs a lot of nurturing to rebalance.
 
For me I had to emotionally disconnect and numb the traumatic experiences
This is what my therapist says about it. Like most traumatic responses, there was a time when they helped us cope.

I think it is a part that I want to rid myself of now because it's getting in the way of me healing.
 
I understand completely and this is my biggest challenge with my CPTSD too

How do I heal if I don’t remember what happened or how it made me feel?
 
I think I understand what you mean.

I go through periods where I would think about the past and then it dawns on me how horrible that memory actually was. I then feel a surge of emotions which at the time I don't remember feeling.

It's hard to explain. It's like a delayed response to something that has always been there. It's not that I forgot about it, but it was more I didn't grasp the significance of it.
 
I feel like I'm on an endless cycle of disconnecting from traumatic experiences to the point where, although I know they happened to me, they have no sense of reality or personal connection.

Then something will happen and I go through a feeling of shock like realising for the first time that I experienced those traumas. It's not necessarily a reminder of the event (a PTSD trigger) that brings that realisation - this time it was my therapist asking me how real the traumas seemed during a session.

It's the sudden change when I really feel like I'm going mad. I just wondered about other people's experiences, what is it and what do you do about it?
Hi Kay,

Well, that does sound like dissociation: cycling in and out of traumatic memories. When this happens to me, I remind myself that I dissociated my traumatic memories in childhood for a reason. Meaning, my mind knew I could not handle all of those memories, so my mind shut them all down. So now, when I suddenly remember a traumatic memory more distinctly, when it becomes more real, I tell myself that this is a good thing. It means, to me, that I'm getting stronger, that my mind now recognizes that I can handle more than I used to. So, some little part of my mind - like an alter, a Gatekeeper - lets me hold the memories for awhile and then, before it all becomes way too much, takes them away.

It is sort of like weight training. One starts with ten pounds: a set of ten, rest, another set of ten. Then as one gets stronger, with 20 pounds: a set of ten, rest, another set of ten. Note that we move progressively upward - and we let ourselves rest in-between sets.

So when the memories hit hard, I remind myself of weight training. I am getting better, getting stronger. I can do this. This is a good sign. I am healing.

And, NO, you are not going mad.
 
I feel like I'm on an endless cycle of disconnecting from traumatic experiences to the point where, although I know they happened to me, they have no sense of reality or personal connection.
Then something will happen and I go through a feeling of shock like realising for the first time that I experienced those traumas. It's not necessarily a reminder of the event (a PTSD trigger) that brings that realisation - this time it was my therapist asking me how real the traumas seemed during a session.


That’s exactly how Avoidance works.

Sometimes it blows up into full on traumatic amnesia, but more often people are acutely aware & either dissociate in response (either as a coping mechanism, or as an expression of depression), or kaBOOM! in response (panic attacks, anxiety attacks, suicidal ideation, dysreg, etc.), or use unhealthy coping mechanisms to blot it out &/or limit their exposure & manage the fallout (drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, gambling, thrill seeking, chaos seeking, etc.), or healthy coping mechanisms to limit their exposure & manage the fallout.



C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidence by one or both of the following:
  1. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).
  2. Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).
 
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