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Memories aren't in order, is this normal?

So i've been asked in between sessions to write my trauma down as i'm struggling to talk about it in session without shutting down. I was asked to go in to as much detail as i could and try and build the story (don't know what else to call it). The thing is, it's like it's broken, so instead of the story being 1-2-3-4-5-6 it's like a massive jumble of numbers and i can't figure out which number goes where. To complicate it more, new numbers just appear out of nowhere that i didn't know existed. It's like trying to put a broken mirror back together and i don't know where all the peices are and there's some shards not even here!
Is this normal? It's doing my head in.
 
That’s almost the definition of my PTSD being in full swing…. NOTHING is linear.

Not only does the past crash into the present, but my past itself is like a spiderweb where touching any part of it makes the entire thing shake. If by thing, we mean me, and by shake we mean dozens/hundreds/thousands of disconnected pieces either explode like someone accidentally lit the fireworks show off all at once. In a bad way. With people running for their lives. Or? Getting hit in the head with a brick, and goodnight Irene. We were just trying to think of …what? WTF? No. Blink blink.

Shudder. It’s… problematic.

It took me about 2 years to just get an overview list made of the different “chapters headings” of my life, written down in order.

((To be fair, I was eyeballs deep in new/ongoing trauma at the time, and “shouldn’t” have been trauma processing. At. All. But? I basically survived my life by being stubborn and doing stupid shit I “shouldn’t” be doing, so the habits of a lifetime didn’t lean toward listening to people telling me I “should” stabilize my life, first, then do processing. C’est la vie. Live & Learn.))

I knew what the chapters WERE, until I tried to write them down & linear shit up. Then? Everyhing got very slippery & sharp & explodey.

To run with your metaphor, for a moment, as it’s very apt? Even harder than just attempting to linear up the overview, was attempting to piece together the shattered pieces of mirror inside those headings. More like pick one up, and fall Alice in Wonderland style through the piece of mirror into a different chapter heading. It’s insanely difficult to pick anything up that you fall INTO the moment you touch it, ya know? Much less when falling into it means landing on your ass somewhere entirely different.

It does get easier.

- As I said in the beginning, when my PTSD is in full swing? NOTHING is linear.

- As I start managing my PTSD back? Things START to linear-up. More like a 3D network model, than beginning-middle-end-transition, but? That’s still not the chaos of colliding worlds, either.

- Once my PTSD is totally in pocket? Badass series of books, with even better search engine, that I have total access to, at (nearly) all times. I can read/remember (without reliving), cross reference, keyword search, zoom in & out, skip around, highlight, share, make notes, shelve for later review… TOTAL CONTROL. Full Sys Admin Access. <<< TOTALLY WORTH the pain in the ass of getting there.
 
Yup. Certain periods of time I can only remember numbers 1-4, other times only 3-8. Every now and then it’s only number 5. Or trauma? What f*cking trauma. Not me. No sir no trauma to be seeing here.

If I’m asked to recall in a line 1-10 someone 1litre of tequila down would be straighter than me.

Personally, I stopped pushing. I remember when I remember and when I don’t I don’t. I deal with what comes up when it comes up, and then I move on.

Mostly now, I put it aside in a box to open when I have several hours of endurance ahead of me. So I can breakdown/put myself back together again/breakdown/build the pieces/breakdown a little smaller/pull it back. And suddenly you’ve found the depths of the hole, eyes are accustomed to the darkness, you can feel the edges of it and you are above it all.
 
That’s almost the definition of my PTSD being in full swing…. NOTHING is linear.

Not only does the past crash into the present, but my past itself is like a spiderweb where touching any part of it makes the entire thing shake. If by thing, we mean me, and by shake we mean dozens/hundreds/thousands of disconnected pieces either explode like someone accidentally lit the fireworks show off all at once. In a bad way. With people running for their lives. Or? Getting hit in the head with a brick, and goodnight Irene. We were just trying to think of …what? WTF? No. Blink blink.

Shudder. It’s… problematic.

It took me about 2 years to just get an overview list made of the different “chapters headings” of my life, written down in order.

((To be fair, I was eyeballs deep in new/ongoing trauma at the time, and “shouldn’t” have been trauma processing. At. All. But? I basically survived my life by being stubborn and doing stupid shit I “shouldn’t” be doing, so the habits of a lifetime didn’t lean toward listening to people telling me I “should” stabilize my life, first, then do processing. C’est la vie. Live & Learn.))

I knew what the chapters WERE, until I tried to write them down & linear shit up. Then? Everyhing got very slippery & sharp & explodey.

To run with your metaphor, for a moment, as it’s very apt? Even harder than just attempting to linear up the overview, was attempting to piece together the shattered pieces of mirror inside those headings. More like pick one up, and fall Alice in Wonderland style through the piece of mirror into a different chapter heading. It’s insanely difficult to pick anything up that you fall INTO the moment you touch it, ya know? Much less when falling into it means landing on your ass somewhere entirely different.

It does get easier.

- As I said in the beginning, when my PTSD is in full swing? NOTHING is linear.

- As I start managing my PTSD back? Things START to linear-up. More like a 3D network model, than beginning-middle-end-transition, but? That’s still not the chaos of colliding worlds, either.

- Once my PTSD is totally in pocket? Badass series of books, with even better search engine, that I have total access to, at (nearly) all times. I can read/remember (without reliving), cross reference, keyword search, zoom in & out, skip around, highlight, share, make notes, shelve for later review… TOTAL CONTROL. Full Sys Admin Access. <<< TOTALLY WORTH the pain in the ass of getting there.
I think that sometimes i'm so driven and determined to get my life back. I've always been stubborn, a try hard and one of those people who if you tell them they can't do something, they absolutley will. I'll run myself into the ground to prove doubt wrong. Being that sort of person with this whole mess... It's like fighting myself. I can't remember everything, it's disorganised, messy. i feel like i have to push harder and harder to get ''fixed''. I feel like i can't do it, and then the drive kicks in and i push harder. Just being asked to write my memory of the event down, having failed at being able to put it into words just makes me feel like a failure, which just loops back to this whole thing being my fault anyway. The frustration of not being able to get things clear and straight. It sounds like i just need to lern to go with the flow and take the proces at an easier pace rather than being stubborn and determined.
Your breakdown of it all makes perfect sense and has really helped put things into perspective, thank you
 
Just being asked to write my memory of the event down, having failed at being able to put it into words just makes me feel like a failure,
Yep. We very talk about our trauma here like there’s a coherent narrative behind it.

But actually, when we’re experiencing, re-experiencing, and trying to recall extremely traumatic memories, our brains amp up the emotional centres (we feel a tonne) and shut down the rational areas up the front of our brain, meaning it’s not just difficult to sequence and describe, but the part of our brain that turns memories into language is actually not online.

Being rendered ‘speechless’ is an actual thing - people get lost for words when it comes to extreme trauma because that part of their brain has been switched off.

And when we finally are able to put it into words, the experience can feel emotionless, like we’re on auto-pilot. And that’s because in attempting to talk, and use language to convey a coherent narrative, our brains have actually had to disconnect from the actual memories of the experience in order to achieve that.

Arguably, if you can convey a coherent narrative of your trauma, and you feel emotions while doing it, but those emotions are at pretty ordinary levels? Then the traumatic memory has been ‘processed’, and probably isn’t causing ptsd symptoms anymore!
The frustration of not being able to get things clear and straight
Yup. Autobiographical memory - like the way you might remember a really good night out - is the standard way we remember stuff that has meaning to us.

Trauma memories get stored completely differently! They typically get stored as disconnected sensory experiences with profound emotion (horror, terror, fear, etc). They not only don’t flow in a coherent sequence, but our brain has stored them independently of each other, without any ‘storyline’ linking it all together.

If you only ‘remember’ small pieces of events, moments, sensory experiences, that are combined with overwhelming emotion? That’s the normal way our brain stores abnormal, extremely traumatic memories.

Which is to say, hell yeah - ptsd is frustrating as hell. But you’re in good company here. Your brain is coping with an abnormal experience in a reasonably normal way. And getting your brain back to its functional, coherent best is a work a progress:)
 
Yep. We very talk about our trauma here like there’s a coherent narrative behind it.

But actually, when we’re experiencing, re-experiencing, and trying to recall extremely traumatic memories, our brains amp up the emotional centres (we feel a tonne) and shut down the rational areas up the front of our brain, meaning it’s not just difficult to sequence and describe, but the part of our brain that turns memories into language is actually not online.

Being rendered ‘speechless’ is an actual thing - people get lost for words when it comes to extreme trauma because that part of their brain has been switched off.

And when we finally are able to put it into words, the experience can feel emotionless, like we’re on auto-pilot. And that’s because in attempting to talk, and use language to convey a coherent narrative, our brains have actually had to disconnect from the actual memories of the experience in order to achieve that.

Arguably, if you can convey a coherent narrative of your trauma, and you feel emotions while doing it, but those emotions are at pretty ordinary levels? Then the traumatic memory has been ‘processed’, and probably isn’t causing ptsd symptoms anymore!

Yup. Autobiographical memory - like the way you might remember a really good night out - is the standard way we remember stuff that has meaning to us.

Trauma memories get stored completely differently! They typically get stored as disconnected sensory experiences with profound emotion (horror, terror, fear, etc). They not only don’t flow in a coherent sequence, but our brain has stored them independently of each other, without any ‘storyline’ linking it all together.

If you only ‘remember’ small pieces of events, moments, sensory experiences, that are combined with overwhelming emotion? That’s the normal way our brain stores abnormal, extremely traumatic memories.

Which is to say, hell yeah - ptsd is frustrating as hell. But you’re in good company here. Your brain is coping with an abnormal experience in a reasonably normal way. And getting your brain back to its functional, coherent best is a work a progress:)
Thank you, i really appreciate that. It's nice knowing other people get what i'm saying.
I find that i can move around the edges of it, or speak bvery breifly about it, but the moment we get close, or it's mentioned we are going to try and get close to it,everything kicks off. Anxiety levels go through to roof, and if we get any closer i just can't talk, it's like words just vanish. That's why we tried writing instead, but i'm finding that equally as challenging. It's really hard to stay present when we try to work on it. My T is great and really intune with where i'm at, i guess i'm just annoyed with it all and pushing to hard to get back some sense of normal
 
it's normal for me, but i have suffered trauma induced amnesia. "normal for me" doesn't fit any statistic banger's definition of a global norm. constructing timelines is a vital and extremely difficult part of my amnesia therapy. my memories typically emerge in disenfranchised, chaotic fashion. piecing them together feels a bit like working a complex mix of unknown jig saw puzzles with no complete pictures to help in the sorting.

however, my therapists, et al, assure me that very few people can recall events in complete, linear order. my law enforcement buddies are especially colorful in describing the phenom. human memory is not the most efficient recording device ever designed.
 
Yep. We very talk about our trauma here like there’s a coherent narrative behind it.
OMG, don't we. There are details of stuff I was sure I told my T before, but evidently today was the first time they came out.......

Strangley - (along the same track) that all seems to be worse in times I am recovering some memories - as are some executive dysfunction things like working memory.

Anxiety levels go through to roof, and if we get any closer i just can't talk, it's like words just vanish.
So first - have you read The PTSD Cup? Learning to empty the cup before it overflows really helps everything.

For me - staying n the present is a big help. So I do grounding stuff like "I am in my T's office, I am Safe, I can feel the couch under my butt, I can feel my feet on the floor....."

Start emptying the cup before it overflows, and whatever tool works for you - use it until you start using it without thinking about it. Like I did in therapy today while we were dealing with some very difficult stuff. By the time my T said "we need to work on you being in the present now, what are you thinking?" Guess what I was thinking?

"I am in my T's office, I am Safe, I can feel the couch under my butt, I can feel my feet on the floor....."
 
OMG, don't we. There are details of stuff I was sure I told my T before, but evidently today was the first time they came out.......

Strangley - (along the same track) that all seems to be worse in times I am recovering some memories - as are some executive dysfunction things like working memory.


So first - have you read The PTSD Cup? Learning to empty the cup before it overflows really helps everything.

For me - staying n the present is a big help. So I do grounding stuff like "I am in my T's office, I am Safe, I can feel the couch under my butt, I can feel my feet on the floor....."

Start emptying the cup before it overflows, and whatever tool works for you - use it until you start using it without thinking about it. Like I did in therapy today while we were dealing with some very difficult stuff. By the time my T said "we need to work on you being in the present now, what are you thinking?" Guess what I was thinking?

"I am in my T's office, I am Safe, I can feel the couch under my butt, I can feel my feet on the floor....."
I've just read the cup page, thank you. It deffinately makes sense to make space and not let things over flow. My T has been quite good a picking up when things are getting too much or i'm zoning out. I had to read what i'd written out loud today and They caught me fairly quickly, they generally give it a sec to see if the pause is a natural pause or if something isn't quite right. They noticed today and calmed things down super quick.
I'm supposed to try and build on the memory over the net week and expand it and add detail, i'll be keeping the cup in mind as i go.
Thank you -)
 
I think that sometimes i'm so driven and determined to get my life back. I've always been stubborn, a try hard and one of those people who if you tell them they can't do something, they absolutley will. I'll run myself into the ground to prove doubt wrong. Being that sort of person with this whole mess... It's like fighting myself. I can't remember everything, it's disorganised, messy. i feel like i have to push harder and harder to get ''fixed''. I feel like i can't do it, and then the drive kicks in and i push harder. Just being asked to write my memory of the event down, having failed at being able to put it into words just makes me feel like a failure, which just loops back to this whole thing being my fault anyway. The frustration of not being able to get things clear and straight. It sounds like i just need to lern to go with the flow and take the proces at an easier pace rather than being stubborn and determined.
I'm sorry but I had to laugh because this is EXACTLY how I started this ptsd therapy mess! I had to read it twice to make sure I hadn't written it! 😂

Want my life back? Check
Will conquer this even if you say I can't? Check
Feel like I'm losing so I push harder and harder? Check
Want it to be "fixed"? Check
Fail at writing down the right words? Check
It's all my fault? Check
Frustrated, stubborn and determined? Check, check and check!

Ya. My memories were all over the place, from several different incidents and nothing made sense. Which pissed me off because I was an overachieving workaholic who didn't allow nonsense like ptsd in her life. I asked my t how long it was going to take to get me thru this therapy nonsense and she said it could be months or years. My response? "ya, I have no time to spend on this ptsd crap, I have things to do." Because I wasn't' about to get sidelined by my own brain spewing nonsense.

annnnnddd now...many years and an entire life implosion later?
I'm still trying to dig my way out, but I'm making progress.

My t told me from the beginning to stop intellectualizing and trying to solve the "ptsd problem" and instead let myself work thru the memories and feel the emotions. Ya that was a big nope. I was the See Problem/Fix Problem kind of person. Not the touchy feeling dealing with horrific memories type.

And that was what slowed me down. A Lot. Years.
So if I can offer an idea it's to stop trying to find the answers.
They will come on their timeline - not yours
Chasing them won't make it happen faster
It will just make you frustrated

And hang out here - cause it really helps being with people who get it.😊
 
I've just read the cup page, thank you. It deffinately makes sense to make space and not let things over flow.
It's the first tool in your toolbox. It's something to build on. As you get better at managing that it opens the window of tolerance and you get better at managing PTSD.

And everything gets a little easier.

...except the memories........and no, most of them are not in order.....

So if I can offer an idea it's to stop trying to find the answers.
They will come on their timeline - not yours
Chasing them won't make it happen faster
It will just make you frustrated

Absolutely right......spend the time when memories don't come building your PTSD toolbox because those memories come when you are ready to deal with them. The best you can do is prepare for when they come.
 
I'm sorry but I had to laugh because this is EXACTLY how I started this ptsd therapy mess! I had to read it twice to make sure I hadn't written it! 😂

Want my life back? Check
Will conquer this even if you say I can't? Check
Feel like I'm losing so I push harder and harder? Check
Want it to be "fixed"? Check
Fail at writing down the right words? Check
It's all my fault? Check
Frustrated, stubborn and determined? Check, check and check!

Ya. My memories were all over the place, from several different incidents and nothing made sense. Which pissed me off because I was an overachieving workaholic who didn't allow nonsense like ptsd in her life. I asked my t how long it was going to take to get me thru this therapy nonsense and she said it could be months or years. My response? "ya, I have no time to spend on this ptsd crap, I have things to do." Because I wasn't' about to get sidelined by my own brain spewing nonsense.

annnnnddd now...many years and an entire life implosion later?
I'm still trying to dig my way out, but I'm making progress.

My t told me from the beginning to stop intellectualizing and trying to solve the "ptsd problem" and instead let myself work thru the memories and feel the emotions. Ya that was a big nope. I was the See Problem/Fix Problem kind of person. Not the touchy feeling dealing with horrific memories type.

And that was what slowed me down. A Lot. Years.
So if I can offer an idea it's to stop trying to find the answers.
They will come on their timeline - not yours
Chasing them won't make it happen faster
It will just make you frustrated

And hang out here - cause it really helps being with people who get it.😊
Oh wow, you sound like me too. Workaholic, I say "I don't have time to ve ill" lol in cold and flu season, I move to fast for illness to catch me.
It sounds like it's time I learned to go with thw flow and take my foot off the gas a bit.
Thank you 💙
 
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