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I hate flashbacks

I can't do this again... I can't.... how... what did we do with flashbacks before?

I don't know how...

One minute I'm fine and the next I'm crying on the floor in my cold entryway and all I can feel is blazing heat on my skin.

All I can feel is me being 6, details of the stupid apartment, flashes of the color of the walls in different rooms, the chair I used to get up to look in the mirror because it was high. The cold concrete black and white tile of the balcony, cool in any heat. The smooth surface of the balcony side wall when I was hiding sitting on it and wondering if I'd really care if I fell. Flashes of climbing trees, listening to friends complain, but thinking I'm the worst.

Brief moments of being here and then hearing the voice. Get off the floor dumb child. Get up. I can't breathe from crying, I can't remember what is now. I keep getting these flashes. The market in the morning when the heat is tolerable. The feeling of the sun burning my skin. The sounds of train in the night. Curned toast, translated french stories for children that I haven't seen in years. My favorites were always those. Where the main heroine gets lost in some world. That one, where she went for a walk and got kidnapped by dwarfs but they took care of her in their kingdom, until she was grown enough to choose if to leave. They had saved her.

The taste of cold coke or sprite in blazing heat. Hiding in the shadow side of buildings because you're save from the heat, running, climbing, making as much trouble as I can because then it all made sense but I can't get up. I can't move. The flashes keep going and now I'm hiding in bed. Every taste. Pictures, candleholders, that one broken taped up window that never got fixed, the tree that broke in half during a storm and nobody cared to cut it down, the peeling paint of benches and gazibos, when even the air smells of heat to the point where you can't breathe but you're used to the feeling.

Get up. I drag myself. Under the covers. where it's dark and quiet and safe. I can't, I can't, I forgot how to stop this, the more I'm there the more I remember. Colors, sensations. Can't remember how being in that body felt like but I remember sensations on my skin, my hair, my nails when I scratch would just because. I don't feel here. Nothing, I did nothing, nothing happened and somehow I can't stop, why???? I was done with this and now it was like a bright blindng explosion and I need to hide....
 
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I'm sorry, it is awful @SeekingAfrica . Not much help, only support. The rare times it happens I use them as a source of info- so that detail was there, and more so- so THAT is what I felt then (?!). And acknowledge how (you) feel.

You actually do better than me because unless I write it down immediately I can't recall all of what I learned, or mostly what I felt. Sometimes it helps me understand triggers though.

For me I find gentleness yes, but I have to shake it off. Like physically. And get moving. One step in front of the other of what I had next planned, best I can. More curiosity than rumination, put the questions to rest. And include the opposite, music or background tv or a bath or reach out to someone +/or focus on something someone else needs in the 'now', not to be derailed by my past. Kind of a mental debriefing.

Hugs to you. 🫂
 
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what did we do with flashbacks before?
i don't want to speak for anyone but myself, but how i dealt with flashbacks before was pure hate and resistance. girl howdy, i'm a major league resistor. alas, how do you beat up a memory? most of my resistance ended up channeled into random targeting and self-sabotage. those flashbacks just kept on coming. after a few decades of that treatment, i adopted the opinion that true insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. with all the memory damage i was doing with the attempts to repress, i didn't often realize i was doing the same thing, over and over. forgetting is a fool's wish to do it all again.

with much help from my therapy network, i learned how to lean ever so gently into those flashbacks to reach for @Tinyflame 's technique of viewing those flashbacks as a source of information and/or review. there are quite allot of important details which were buried in the mindslides of trauma which are vitally worth rescuing.
but I remember sensations on my skin, my hair, my nails when I scratch would just because.
since i started using radical acceptance and mindfulness in place of the hateful resistance, i have discovered that i can remember such sensations for the good days, as well, when i allow it. full sensory recall of a joyful moment is powerful medicine on a rough day. at least as good as a xanax. i think. never actually tried a xanax, but from what i hear. . .
 
You actually do better than me because unless I write it down immediately I can't recall all of what I learned, or mostly what I felt. Sometimes it helps me understand triggers though.
That actually was immediately. My first clear thought was to come on the forum because I don't know anyone in my real life(as close as some friends are to me) that actually has flashbacks and would get it. I'm not comparing hardships. Even in my life there are worse things. But I just needed support in someone who will get that exact feeling I'm having.
Like physically. And get moving. One step in front of the other of what I had next planned, best I can.
Doing what I planned is an issue, since for the longest time I had to finish the deadline, but now I'm applying to things and trying to get my life in order. So a huge chunk of today was meant to be free-for-all kind of day, GYST day. Basically cleaning, or working out, or grooming, or planning or applying or all- all the threads of things I couldn't get to when I was deep into working 10h daily on a single thing. I was meant to make a plan for my side hustle this afternoon.

Except it was afternoon and it suddenly became evening. That's how flashbacks are for me, like they steal my time without permission. It's like one long torturous memory but when I snap out of it hours have passed. Also my brain is like mush, scrambled from the memory- I know I was meant to make a plan, but it's like a distant dream I can't reach quite yet, everything feels like from under water....

And include the opposite, music or background tv or a bath or reach out to someone +/or focus on something someone else needs in the 'now', not to be derailed by my past. Kind of a mental debriefing.
Might try that.
Hugs to you. 🫂
🫂🫂🫂

most of my resistance ended up channeled into random targeting and self-sabotage.
That sounds like me to the letter.

full sensory recall of a joyful moment is powerful medicine on a rough day.
I'm lucky enough to have huge memory and sensory recall for anything. Sometimes with pictures and videos I can lose myself for hours. But that means you need to have a memory ready. Otherwise, when I feel like this, I can't remember a starting point, I can't think of a good moment. I know there were many, I just feel drained and sad.
at least as good as a xanax. i think. never actually tried a xanax, but from what i hear. . .
I had the lowest dosage for panic attacks. Once upon a time. When you're actually panicking it doesn't feel anything like that, it feels like you can finally calm down and feel like yourself. Never took it without a reason so I wouldn't know how it could be otherwise.

I'm out of this flashback thankfully, but I have truly forgotten what they are like- like I am so drained now I can't remember how to be myself. Everything just hurts even though the memories part is over. I'm exhausted, depleted, brain-dead and over-sensitive to everything, light, sound, temperature. Hazy. Just... not good. really really not good.
 
I don't know why but just like anything else, flashbacks leave certain aftertaste to them.
Sadness, disgust of everything I generally like and... I don't know, very dark thoughts.
Makes everything sort of feel useless and pointless and makes it bad to be alone and without a concrete plan at such evening.
 
without a concrete plan
I can't.... how... what did we do with flashbacks before?
One of the things I’ve found helps me the most is to do the things that would have helped back THEN, instead of my coping mechanisms that I use & help NOW.

It kinda sorta bridges the gap?

Not to mention are infinitely easier to think of in the moment.

THEN, once I’ve settled a bit, to use my now-coping mechanisms.

With enough repetition? The now-coping-mechanisms gradually replace the then-coping-mechanisms as what I can easily reach for/ remember/ use.

Unfortunately, most of my then-coping-mechanisms are… less than ideal. There’s durn good reason why I don’t still use them. So I very much try to start replacing then with now, as fast as possible. Pretty much as soon as I can think of them is my cue to use them, and in the interim? Cut myself some slack.

^^^
If the above doesn’t make sense? Consider a 40yo childhood trauma survivor who can only be comforted by their stuffed bunny. That’s a then coping mechanism. They can either lean into that, and continue to only be comforted by their stuffed bunny …or… as soon as they’re more present? Start using more adult / now coping mechanisms. So it progresses from bunny only, to bunny and then adult coping mechanisms, to adult coping mechanisms exclusively (or almost exclusively). So, over time, whilst they may still love their stuffed bunny, they no longer need it, as they now have dozens of fast/effective/healthy ways to calm & ground & come back to themselves.

As someone whose trauma started in their adulthood? The coping mechanisms I used THEN, are just not as innocuous as a stuffed rabbit. So it’s pretty key I shift away from them as soon as I’m able.
 
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@Friday
By THEN do you mean THEN, as when the abuse occurred, or THEN when I used to have more flashbacks but still had no clue what they were or THEN when I had more flashbacks knowing what they were but new to them so not coping great?

Your metaphor was perfect and I love the concept... hence why I have additional questions.
Especially now when the flashback is sort of starting to feel like a weird daydream I had, although my reaction to it was much more visceral and I'm mentally and physically drained so definitely not a dream.
What would be good coping techniques or is that something personal to the individual (setting aside the age part)?

Taking current example:
When I was a kid I pretended it wasn't happening and made to do lists in my head for my fun plans for the next day with my friends. (yes I'm aware that's odd for a 6 year old but it was always holidays and hence friends time and I guess my mind find comfort in looking forward to something? may explain why I still find comfort in planning while when I'm depressed even living alone everything is a mess like I WANT someone to notice- new realisation, thank you for that btw. Your explanation reminded me that on those holidays, I'd always make a mess although I was well thought order by my parents, my grandmother always yelled so she noticed but not in the way I intended I guess).
When I was in uni and PTSD meant nothing to me I coped in unhealthy ways.
When I started therapy I wasn't yet at the level to talk about that trauma so I over-watched TV shows I've watched before and overate.

None of that is helping.
My initial reaction to not just flashbacks but a lot of hardships lately has been these mini-breaks under a blanket- I guess it dulled the outside world, sounds and light and made me feel safe. So now once I was able to move my initial reaction was to hide in bed under 3 blankets. But didn't work though. I don't feel better. Okay, I don't feel destructive finally but still not too much better.

One tiny step forward is threating this like flu or being sick- that I'm not at a 100%, that's okay and I won't resist it.
Every other time I've pulled myself to shreds over 'allowing' myself to have a flashback. Accepting it was something.
Still need to find coping skills though.
 
By THEN do you mean THEN, as when the abuse occurred,
This.

Because flashbacks are reliving, not remembering, it makes sense that what comforts me the most/best/fastest? Are what I needed then, during the timeframe the flashback is from, instead of what I need now… and then add in what I need now as I become more present here, instead of reliving the past.

So

- How would you comfort a child, when your flashbacks are in childhood?
- What did you need then, even if you didn’t have it?
&
- How would you comfort a young adult, what did you need (even if you didn’t have it), when your flashbacks are from later traumas?
 
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I don't know why but just like anything else, flashbacks leave certain aftertaste to them.
i worked with a nurse practitioner at the veteran's administration who believed likewise introduced me to theories on "psychic flu." within her theory, flashbacks, grief, panic attacks, et al, were sources of, "psychic flu." they leave measurable physical aftereffects which she liked to treat like viral infection. lots of rest, fluids and soft foods. don't rush the convalescence lest your weakened immune system leave you vulnerable to opportunistic infections and/or setbacks.

i've been working that theory since she introduced me in the 90's and i earnestly believe she was on to something, god rest her soul.
 
That has been a really productive thread rather than just venting, tbh. I'm learning a lot about me and flashbacks.
ecause flashbacks are reliving, not remembering, it makes sense that what comforts me the most/best/fastest? Are what I needed then, during the timeframe the flashback is from, instead of what I need now… and then add in what I need now as I become more present here, instead of reliving the past.
Thank you for taking the time for those explanations. It's been shedding interesting light on the whole thing.
I always took flashbacks the way you take symptoms-or the bad way you can take them anyway- in a 'it is what it is' fashion. As in, it happens, and not only do I have no control over the flashback, but no control over myself after it. While it's partly true- I didn't even think about the fact that it's just a thing like panic or anxiety attacks. Meaning you can learn to cope better. It's not just this evil thing that keeps happening to you and you can't do anything different.

I thought a lot about what you wrote.
About all the ways I've reacted. And how what I actually needed has been the opposite of that.
All of it, counting, things to look forward to, watching TV, eating, blanket, it's all about quieting the world. Escaping the world. Which made sense when I actually couldn't escape. But I'm alive and I've come such a long way, no matter what I love and hate in my life, or what I'd like to change.
I couldn't run so I had to find other ways to 'escape', not be there.

I needed someone to know, someone to notice. I needed those good experiences with friends. I need the opposite of escaping.
I need to recognise that I had a flashback as part of my current condition and that's okay. And then LIVE. Because I can. There is no need to run now. And what I need is my good friends, and painting brightly and dancing ballet, and cooking really delicious food and continuing to live like I have nothing to be ashamed of. Because I don't. This isn't my weakness to hide. It's just something that happens to me. Just a symptom. And I deserve to continue enjoying life once I have regained my energy and I'm out of the hard part of it.

@arfie - deleted the quote somehow- ""psychic flu." they leave measurable physical aftereffects which she liked to treat like viral infection. lots of rest, fluids and soft foods. don't rush the convalescence lest your weakened immune system leave you vulnerable to opportunistic infections and/or setbacks."
---
I do believe so too. I always thought it's because of adrenaline surge- when you shake it off, there is a fallout- and you always get adrenaline surge if you are scared or panicked.... whatever the reason I believe so many emotions in such short space of time take a toll. Although unlike with grief we like to treat them like they don't exists. But tonight has been helpful in acceptance. Haven't had many flashbacks in a long time- and I'm grateful- but treating myself bad when they do happen wasn't the healthiest coping either. Kind of the opposite actually.
Thank you for sharing that and RIP for your friend (if I got that one correctly).
 
I always thought it's because of adrenaline surge- when you shake it off, there is a fallout-
the adrenaline is part of the stress/survival response, but only part. the nurse practitioner had quite a list of physical side effects. virtually all of the naturally altered, grief, etc., have their own lists of physical reactions which varied from patient to patient, but all were affected.

i was her patient. she was a friendly professional. one of the most effective therapists i worked with at the veteran's administration. her coaching in psychic flu treatment is where i learned how to be gentle with myself and patient with the process. before that coaching, i put tacks in my self-flagellation whip when my freak flag started snapping. nope. never helped.
 
I don't know why but just like anything else, flashbacks leave certain aftertaste to them.
Sadness, disgust of everything I generally like and... I don't know, very dark thoughts.
Makes everything sort of feel useless and pointless
One thing I am tying to do, is remember (for me) it's not about my mind being led around when bad feelings surface. Because if I follow with my mind's thoughts how I feel if it's badly, then I draw eronious conclusions +/or make bad decisions. The feelings will persist for a bit for sure, but then I say this is what I believe and choose and choose to put my faith in. Now, today. (And not meaning only today, not tomorrow. Rather, it is today, this is now.)

I was thinking how grief leads to remembering more grief, other instances, and loss. The feelings within a FB, though warranted then, are bound to remind us of similar times and scars. JMHO though. Not sure if it's helpful or you needed more support rather than suggestions.

I hope you are feeling a bit better though drained I am sure. They can certainly be unsettling.
 
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