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The Maze of Jagged Memories

Boyd Brent

New Here
Those of us who have experienced PTSD are painfully aware of how the past trauma stays present because of flashbacks and reminders that make moving forward and healing seem impossible.

Does the following paragraph, therefore, sum up the vicious circle at the heart of PTSD?

By default, we overthink the reminders, coaxed by them into a Maze of Jagged Memories to find answers or a new framing of what happened that might stop the anguish. But isn’t the opposite true? Whenever we take the reminder bait and return to the Maze to mull over the past trauma, it intensifies our anxiety or depression because it's akin to picking at an emotional wound, which, like any wound, must be left alone to heal. The damage done by the fight or flight response that floods our system with the stress hormone cortisol whenever we return to and spend time in the Maze, reliving the trauma.

Could the solution to breaking this vicious circle be to let our primal brain (that's sending the reminders) know that whatever caused the trauma is now in the past and not something it has to make us hyper-aware of in the present?

And might this message be most efficiently delivered by remaining out of the Maze of Jagged Memories about it? After all, if we appear disinterested in returning to the Maze, then, as far as our primal brain is concerned, the past trauma can no longer be the urgent threat it once was. And therefore, not something it has to continue to make us hyper-aware of. Plus, by remaining out of the Maze/not thinking about and reliving the trauma again and again and again, we would limit or prevent the release of cortisol, which is the biting teeth of all our stress, anxiety, or depression.

If the above were the answer to PTSD, does remaining out of the Maze (which feels like it’s everywhere following a flashback/reminder) sound like an impossible task? Does any of the above ring true? I'd very much like to hear your thoughts on the Maze of Jagged Memories in relation to your own experience of PTSD.
 
Nope. This really does not describe my experience... but I can appreciate a good metaphor, that allows one to better conceptualize/handle what's going on with them.

It reads as if this maze does that for you.
 
hello boyd. welcome to the forum. i'm not quite sure if you are looking for ptsd support or a creative writing critique.
I'd very much like to hear your thoughts on the Maze of Jagged Memories in relation to your own experience of PTSD.
your maze of jagged memories reminds me of my jigsaw puzzle analogy. i started my ptsd recovery with trauma induced amnesia and piecing together the emerging memories felt allot like putting together box of multiple jigsaw puzzles, mixed together with no clear pictures to offer clues as to which piece belongs with which puzzle.

nerd alert
simultaneously, your maze brings me reminders of "neural plasticity" and "neural pathways." a theory i have played with since around the turn of the millennium is using language studies to "route new neural pathways" around some of the damaged centers of my brain. i wonder if some of my "damaged centers" could be called, "jagged memories."
does remaining out of the Maze (which feels like it’s everywhere following a flashback/reminder) sound like an impossible task?
yea, remaining out of the maze feels somewhere between impossible and counter-productive. my experience with amnesia makes it feel more attractive to do the hard work of making my peace with my jagged memories.
 
Nope. This really does not describe my experience... but I can appreciate a good metaphor, that allows one to better conceptualize/handle what's going on with them.

It reads as if this maze does that for you.
Hello, thank you for replying. If it doesn’t ring true that your flashbacks/reminders are bait to draw you into thinking about what happened to you, then what do you perceive their purpose as? If you used a metaphor to paint a picture of the cycle you’re in that keeps the past trauma current and stops you from moving on, if not a maze of painful memories where you return to relive the past, then what does the cycle that, in an ideal world you could break, look like?
 
hello boyd. welcome to the forum. i'm not quite sure if you are looking for ptsd support or a creative writing critique.

your maze of jagged memories reminds me of my jigsaw puzzle analogy. i started my ptsd recovery with trauma induced amnesia and piecing together the emerging memories felt allot like putting together box of multiple jigsaw puzzles, mixed together with no clear pictures to offer clues as to which piece belongs with which puzzle.

nerd alert
simultaneously, your maze brings me reminders of "neural plasticity" and "neural pathways." a theory i have played with since around the turn of the millennium is using language studies to "route new neural pathways" around some of the damaged centers of my brain. i wonder if some of my "damaged centers" could be called, "jagged memories."

yea, remaining out of the maze feels somewhere between impossible and counter-productive. my experience with amnesia makes it feel more attractive to do the hard work of making my peace with my jagged memories.
Hello, thank you for your welcome and reply. Yes, your jigsaw puzzle analogy is much like the maze – a maze of fragmented memories you return to to assemble instead of mulling over intact ones.

Would it be true to say that, rather than what happened to you being the threat your primal brain senses and reminds you about, this threat it perceives comes from you not knowing what happened? It, therefore, tells you to return to the maze to assemble the puzzle pieces and find out, like shining a torch into a darkened area to see what’s there. And having seen what’s there and making made peace with it, it follows that healing can begin.

Besides reassuring your jagged memories that the trauma in the past and it’s okay to move on, what else does your hard work of making peace entail? Is there anything other than reassurance you can offer them? Or perhaps your hard work involves something else entirely.

Maybe no areas of your brain are damaged. Maybe what you describe is simply part of being human.
 
Hello, thank you for your welcome and reply. Yes, your jigsaw puzzle analogy is much like the maze – a maze of fragmented memories you return to to assemble instead of mulling over intact ones.
It's what Van der Kolk describes in "the body keeps score" After the moment of trauma memory "shatters".

Therapy helps deal with trauma and put that memory back into something our brain can process. So don't worry - you don't have to put the puzzle together to fix it. As you deal with all the bits and pieces and are able to, the puzzle puts itself together.....
 
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