For those who have been doing this a long time… Do your memories/ intrusive thoughts/ flashbacks become more linear?


I was diagnosed with PTSD over 25 years ago. Minus a 10 year break sort of in the middle (almost totally asymptomatic), one/two of the things I’ve noticed is that whilst the first CHAOTIC kicking over Pandoras Box is totally… non-linear?… thinking/feeling & remembering/reliving all years/moments sort of existing simultaneously? Touch any part of the spiderweb and the whole thing shakes? Worlds colliding, everything is now, total clusterf*ck.


As things start to settle down, again, linear time seems to sort of reassert itself. This was then, followed by that, followed by then, all leading up to now.

Not just the past & present separating, like with processed/processing trauma, but what flashes into my mind in the shower this week? Won’t be something from 25 & 17 & 2 & 20 & 6 & 24 years ago (all in the same moment)… but begin to be 25 this month, 20 this season, 15 this week, 10 this year, whilst 5 years ago is this month.

As if my brain is defragging itself?

Attempting to reorganize itself along a linear timeline, instead of a spiderweb?

Even the unprocessed trauma, kind of slinking off back to where it belongs, to sulk in the corners.

Over the past few years it’s been this slooooow linear reorganizing, that I have no say or input in. My head? Is now very strongly in 2010-2012. After having progressed through Pandora’s box (everything) and then early days (25 years ago) to 10 years ago. So consistently that I am beginning to suspect the past 10 years are “next”.

Is this just a me thing, or have other people noticed this?

If I am gibbering like an idiot? Please don’t be shy in telling me so.
i won't be shy in telling you i happen to be fond of gibbering idiots, either, friday. they make me feel less alone in this world, especially when the gibberish is psychobabbled tech analogies. my early psychotherapy developed concurrently with my tech career in the 70's and 80's. back then, programmers were actively modeling programs after the human thought process. reversing that order and modeling my psychotherapy after computer programming felt as natural as rain in my broken brain.
As if my brain is defragging itself?
i'm slapping my forehead that i didn't think of this analogy, myself. linear thinking doesn't come naturally to me, so my flashbacks, et al, have not gotten more linear, but they are less fragmented than they were before i opened pandora's box. the logical sequences are still puzzling at times, but far easier to follow than the leakage from pandora's box. for sure, i'm the only senior citizen i know whose memory is improving with age. so far.
The first line of the classic novel by Kurt Vonnegut about PTSD has always been my lifeline to another mind that understands what is happening in mine.
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.
Slaughterhouse Five is Kurts semi autobiography and heavily nuanced science fiction version of a life lead in glimpses and memory/future/present.
If he isnt describing this life we are in he is pretty good at faking it.
I am not sure. If you are “gibbering” than so am i when i try to explain it. Thats why i seldom try. Glad you are able to do what you do for us all @Friday in spite of being in a hard place yourself.

This shit scares the hell out of me some days. The shower is a time that i know well also. I have a NOA weather radio going loud while i am in there, every time. They used to ring a bell every time the loop started over, i used it to break out of wherever I was when I heard it. Over time, it just became habit to try to pay attention to the local forecasts when it came around on the loop, they dropped the bell some time around 2005. I still try to pay attention to the local, usually make it through a day or two but i am wandering around in my head full of memories by day 5 most of the time. Second time around and its time to be thinking about a towel and work attire and the truck keys and then its one step after another for twelve hours outside of my memories if I can pull it off.
Yeah I get it. Its linear except when it isnt. In dreams, never. In the shower, tenuously, in the world, yep. Weekends? Who cares? Sit on the back of the trailer and drink coffee, sometimes so long that it gets cold before things get back to now. Then one step after another, linear work days save me at home too.
Hope you have what you need to get to better place in there.
Won’t be something from 25 & 17 & 2 & 20 & 6 & 24 years ago (all in the same moment)… but begin to be 25 this month, 20 this season, 15 this week, 10 this year, whilst 5 years ago is this month.

As if my brain is defragging itself?

Attempting to reorganize itself along a linear timeline, instead of a spiderweb?
This reminds me of when I’m say cleaning up all the random things around the house cause that’s been a thing since trauma.

And I put it all in a box or bag because I can’t handle all the random “this goes here this goes up there.” Too many things to remember.

Later I take the box or bag and dump it some place and start putting them away one by one. Haha am I crazy?


I have no clue if this helps. But you do not sound crazy at all ❤️
Is this just a me thing, or have other people noticed this?

If I am gibbering like an idiot? Please don’t be shy in telling me so.
Yup. same effect in many ways. It's just that I am a beginner and its like getting the first part done sort of uncovered all this other -was that trauma? stuff to deal with.

What I have found is while doing reprocessing it 's like you can tell where you are in a way.....memories surface in a linear timeline. So it is like you said - even if you are not actively doing therapy on something it still keeps working and doing its thing, straitening out memories and fitting the puzzle pieces together.

Unfortunately I still have a huge mess back at the beginning where there is so much stuff that got sucked into those events. Just gotta go at it like the T said - little slices........
twice today i have had to wait for an appointment to start. first one, sitting in a parking lot thinking about the appointment and i was a minute late, i was out to lunch and got out of time. Second one, video call, busily trying to get some work done before the weather changes and before tonights world series game 3 and i am watching the clock and estimating how long it will take to get the work done and i am in the moment and time is linear and i slide into my desk with a minute to spare.
completely different head spaces, with different outcomes, purely because i was off in my head for the first one and totally aware of time with a linear course of events to follow before the second one.
Kind of sums up my life, strong distractions from my condition are my best therapy for it. Lucky for me i find myself in a profession that requires a high level of thought and involvement. I can get lost in spatial relationships in my head to where i am totally out to lunch too, but i get paid for it. I am the guy sitting in front of a workstation trying to envision a change we want to make and trying to remember the layout of the workstation that i am staring blankly at. Gone cat, gone, like really really gone man. You dig?
I am the same. My trauma is compounded by childhood trauma so I was always 'sensitive' but not aware whatsoever. I just knew I was broken, or evil or tainted...whatev. But my actual PTSD started with a huge and continuous for some time trauma at 21. It's been 13 years.

For a year and a half, I had no concept of PTSD, minimized what happened, and all the symptoms seemed to me like 'I was going crazy'.
Almost as bad as the trauma, It was like living 2 lives.

For 3 years after I tried to 'manage it on my own', which lead to a lot of what you mention as non-linear timeline. Most of the time I was at the present, as well as I never left the time that gave me PTSD in a way? Like time had stopped moving and the time then didn't fade like with any other. And then something else happened that opened the Pandora box of my childhood. So I started having flashbacks and super- vivid memories of that time too. Just as vivid as the rest. So most of the time? All flashbacks felt mixed up together and the present was somehow... far. Also when my trauma at 21 happened, one of the times I couldn't cope and snapped into being 6 years old while being 21 years old so that was a whole lot confusing at the time since I hadn't even thought about anything under age of 10 in a decade. Which in retrospect should have been a clue. So during therapy the 2 timelines and present would get very mixed up, like I was each of those ages at the same time.

With lots of meds, therapy, life, good and bad times.... I got to almost being present most of the time. Then when I have flashbacks they are usually more like a cluster if that makes sense. Sort of like something opens a particular wound (trauma) and my brain starts to get sensitive on that particular one more than the rest.
Also the first years with PTSD I NEVER felt like the present was present, never felt like it was as vivid as the trauma. So it felt like the present was some dream which I was stuck back in time. 4 years in, and some of the help I got described up, and I finally started 'feeling' the present again.
Now I am mostly present with the trauma being somehow parallel, except when flashbacks happen and knock me off that newfound balance.
If that made any sense whatsoever.