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I've been told that dealing with the trauma of abuse gets worse… 
28th-May-2008 04:09 am

I've been told that dealing with the trauma of abuse gets worse before it gets better as more memories are being uncovered. Basically whenever I try to sleep I go right into the flashbacks. They're getting more intense, it's getter harder for her to wake me up to get out of them, my reactions in my sleep are more intense, etc. I got 2 hours of sleep last night as well as the night before because I was wide awake afraid to sleep after slight naps with these flashbacks. Do I just need to be prepared or something? How "worse" is the worst part? I'm sure it's different for everyone, but...having a breakdown and finally crying or what? I'm not ready for it if this is the "beginning of the worst." I don't want to go through it. Ignoring the entire situation worked just fine for now. Each time after these flashbacks I feel I have to take a shower and get clean. I've never had that feeling before. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed last night when I took a shower I had to be by myself (she didn't want to leave me alone due to ED behaviors). I couldn't look at her in the eye because I felt so dirty. I don't think she understood that level and took slight offense and maybe thought I didn't trust her or something.

Is there any way to make the flashbacks stop or lessen?

Is there any information for my partner to read about it? She feels so helpless and useless and bad that she can't do anything to help and stop them.
28th-May-2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
Keep reminding yourself before you go to sleep that you are in a safe place and when they happen try to remove your emotions from them. They usually pop up more frequently when we are stressed so try some stress relievers before you go to sleep.
28th-May-2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
I'll try to remember to tell myself that. To tell myself I'm ok and it isn't real anymore.
28th-May-2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
My flashbacks have been really bad lately, especially at night. You could try some breathing or relaxation techniques. Sometimes touching something fammilier reminds you that you're here in the present, not in the past (I use my stuffed rabbit or my microfiber pillowcase). If you have a pet, that helps, too.

Lately, though, whenever I'm triggered, I crochet. It keeps my hands and mind busy, especially if I begin repeating the steps to the stitches over and over in my head. I'm what they call an "advanced begginer," but it helps clear my mind until the flashbacks go away.

*safe hugs* I hope that helps.
28th-May-2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
Yea, last night I grabbed my blanket (yes i have my baby blanket still since that was the only thing that kept me sane growing up) and snuggled with it for the first time in years and that seemed to help the 1.5 hours I was asleep. I'll be sure to do that again, even if it is embarrassing haha. ::hugs to you too:: Thank you.
28th-May-2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
I don't know that any kind of recovery is a linear/up-and-down thing. But there is a lot of push-pull and roundabouts on the way to recovery.
Sometimes I feel like I've been much more triggered and flashback-y lately because I'm starting to gain a support system.
I agree with the first comment. I think such things happen in times of stress, so anything you and your partner can do to lessen any of your stressors (or triggers), especially before bed, will help. And if you make that a routine and tradition, chances are you'll be able to pull on that resource when you're stressed out or triggered in other situations and be able to keep yourself in check.
Personally, trying to be mindful about breathing during a flashback helps me. And once that's under control, I can go through a checklist of things like, "I'm in my bed. I'm in my room. I'm in my apartment. My cat is on my lap and purring," etc., so that I can stay in the present. It's definitely hard when there's another person there, but I think you can do it. *safe hugs and thoughts*
28th-May-2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
thank you. I just remember that I have "Calm" tea so I may try to use that. I have valarian (an herb) that helps me sleep, but usually 1/2 tablet puts me out cold 8+ hours and I have to get up 7 in the morning every day for summer classes so that won't work out. During my flashbacks they're usually when I'm asleep and I can't wake up. I can't get out of it so I don't know how to focus and breathe while I'm getting hurt again (or, it seems that real to me). I will try some of the techniques though. ::hugs back::
28th-May-2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
Hmm... I still think that having a set "calming" routine before bed would help, since it would take away a lot of the day's stress that might be leading up to your sleep-flashbacks.
I'm not sure why, but the term "lucid dreaming" is coming to mind, and it seems like the idea would be that even in your dreams, you are still in control and have the power to change it, but don't take my word for it, because I haven't studied lucid dreaming, but I might have to now! :-)
29th-May-2008 02:22 am (UTC)
The best way to reduce the length and severity of flashbacks (both through my experience and what is most commonly talked about from the psychiatric field) is to talk about what you're seeing/experiencing, how it made you feel, how it still makes you feel, and then remind yourself that you are in a safe place.

Flashback cycles can be triggered by memory-specific triggers, being in a stable place (your mind views stability as "she's ready to remember more!"), or just having it be time to re-process something you've already gone through. The thing to remember is that they *do* pass with time.

For me, my worst was pretty horrible. I didn't sleep without nightmares for years, and some of my flashback cycles lasted for 3-4 months. But, they did peter out every single time, even if they only went to being less frequent for a time, there was always some sort of break.

So just keep talking about what you're remembering, focus on taking care of yourself as best you can, and remember that it will pass. I also highly recommend calming tea or calming scents (lavender and lilac work best for me). They are both very good at bringing me back to the present and reminding me that I'm safe now.
29th-May-2008 08:08 am (UTC)
There is a great book called "Allies in healing" that my husband read and it helped him.
It's different for everyone how they go about healing.
Just be gentle with yourself and try to keep yourself in the present moment by noticing things around the room and where you are as well as feeling different body parts and naming them in your head before you go to sleep.
You are doing the work and though it hurts it will be worth it, I promise you.
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