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How to cope with physical flashbacks?

SophieBernstein

Confident
Hi! First of all, Happy new year!! And second, how can I cope with physical flashbacks?
I suffered CoCSA and sometimes those memories assaulted me and I can't stop those thoughts but the worst part by far is that I can feel it. I mean, I can feel my mouth full.... You know what I mean. Is really disgusting and annoying, it makes me anxious... Today I was washing my teeths and suddenly that happened again, you can imagine how I felt when I spit out the toothpaste.

What can I do? I tried to focus on the moment telling to myself I was just washing my teeths but that sensation didn't dissapeared, I can feel it now...
 
as with my other flashbacks, i lean gently into them and follow them to their source. i lean heavily on my therapy support network as i go.

it took me enough years to get that foul taste out of my mouth that i built a tri-continental reputation for being the one to ask for a mint. i have long since overcome that particular symptom, but still carry mints to uphold my reputation. it is among the funner reputations i have carried in my broken life.
 
Physical flashbacks are one of my worst symptoms as a COCSA survivor as well. I try my best to ground in the moment and record everything about the event. The feelings, the time, the trigger, etc. Then I bring it to therapy and we try to trace it back to the source, which can take several sessions and be painful
 
I used exposure therapy on them.

There are a LOT of different kinds of exposure therapy, there’s a guide here >>> Guidance for using a trauma diary for exposure therapy (cbt) <<< for using a diary. I’m far more of a kinesthetic person… and wrote about eliminating my triggers & flashbacks of oral rape a few years back (below).

This is just what I did, surrounding my own issues, just making shit up on the fly. Essentially every time something bothered me, or triggered me? I'd do it more, on purpose, to trigger myself into nudging the boundary further away/ increase what I could do without wigging out. Kept playing with it, and poking at it, as things came up.

Physically - Oral Sex

Gave my mouth a helluva lot of sensory experiences
- Talking with my mouth full, or around ice, or under water
- Singing ditto (mouth full, or around ice, or underwater)
- Eating while walking (That was unexpectedly difficult. When I found that out I refused to eat sitting down for a few weeks, and started carrying lolly-pops and sunflower seeds to really trip my brain out!)
- Playing with my tongue (from flipping it upside down, to spinning spaghetti, to counting my teeth, to clicking).
- Playing with my face (blowing my cheeks out, sucking them in, Elvis lips, etc.)
- Different food textures
- etc.

Gagging
- Trained my throat to swallow thick liquids, to pills, to whole grapes, etc. (I actually researched how drug-mules train themselves to swallow balloons).
- Brushed my teeth & tongue with a washcloth (ironically, works better than a brush).
- Used Chloraseptic (mild topical anesthetic) when necessary.
- etc.

Breath Control
- Swimmers tricks ((One of the primary rules of swimming is that if you can talk? You can breathe. I've actually always used this with panic attacks... But they also came in handy when dealing with my oral sex hangups.)) From gargling to "gulping fishes" (that mixed air & water choking feeling), to snorkeling, to rebreathers. Anything that creates the need to breathe weird, on purpose.
- Singing.
- Whistling
- etc.

(Lastly) Once I was completely copasetic with all the non-sexual aspects of oral anything and everything I could think of... I went on a fellatio mission.
- Researched everything I could about it (lmao, before Internet! That was an adventure)
- Talked to a bunch of people (guys mostly, gay guys even better).
- Took lessons / Practiced with friends
- Learned to breathe through my nose (that was a lightbulb moment! Shazaam. LOL)
- Learned to flip a condom around in my mouth / how to put one on
- etc.
 
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