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A safe space to share stories and ask questions
23rd-Sep-2006 11:06 am
How do you deal with the intense flashbacks? My story is a horrible trigger, but if you wish to kind of understand you can view it in my journal. My problem is that I'll be laying in my bed or my living room, but it's as though I'm not there. I look around and I see HIS bedroom, HIS livingrom, and the panic sets in. It takes several seconds before I can find something to ground me, trigger me back into reality. But by then the dominoes have fallen, and the flashback continues until I've ended up reliving the entire experience. My counselor has simply said I need to work on putting those memories away, and only taking them out in bits and pieces I can deal with, but it's ridiculously hard to do that when the flashbacks aren't even triggered sometimes by anything around me that I know of! I'm on medication, but I refuse to remain totally drugged up to avoid thinking at all, I need to work, and have a life. My husband helps sometimes by rubbing my back etc, but I don't want to drag him into it at every flashback. I mean sometimes I wake up at three in the morning with it happening.

24th-Sep-2006 06:00 am (UTC)
I like to think or say a safe mantra of sorts, for me it's a short prayer in another language but it could be any words really. I guess that sounds kind of OCD but it makes me less scared.
24th-Sep-2006 03:11 pm (UTC)
I tell myself "you're having a flashback, it's not real, breathe" and try to calm myself down afterwards. Breathing slow even breaths helps me come out of it, and I just push it away to that corner of my mind. Then I'm usually kind of freaked out/upset so I'll watch a comedy movie or listen to some happy music. Sad music just puts me in a really deep funk.
24th-Sep-2006 03:30 pm (UTC)
I put a bottle of my husbands cologne next the bed, and that seemed to help last night. The comment about a safe mantra saying seeming kind of OCD makes me laugh. It's actually great advice. I only say that it makes me laugh because when I'm starting to slip into it I unconciously start to say the alphabet or count to ten, or a a mix of both. I'm unsure as to why, I think it's my brain simply trying to protect itself from the impending flashback.
25th-Sep-2006 05:09 pm (UTC)
My therapist calls those flashbacks "Enveloping flashbacks" - because they transport you back to the place you were abused.

While taking apart those memories is the most effective way to stop the flashbacks from coming, you definitely do need some ways to cope in the now - as taking apart those memories can take a while to accomplish.

There are a few things that usually snap me back when I'm in a flashback like that. One of them is to have a cup of water next to my bed (I use a plastic cup in case I thrash and knock it over - broken glass + flashback = bad for me). usually drinking some cold water or putting water on my feet grounds me almost instantly.

Another thing I use a lot is a sound machine: a machine that makes different nature sounds at the touch of a button - for me it's like instantly being at a beach (somewhere I have no bad associations). Often having the sounds reminds me of good things and helps combat the flashbacks, or at least make it easier to handle the emotions of the flashback.

The other thing I use most often is texture. I know it sounds weird, but touching something with texture (a terrycloth towel, the carpet) will actually override some of the brain functions that make those types of flashbacks possible, and can bring you back into your body a lot faster. Just reaching out and touching a stuffed animal or a towel can be a big help to ground you, and is quick and easy to access.
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