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Coping With Flashbacks

Sometimes I am confused about my memory. I worry a bit about the long term damage caused by the abuse I went through. Most days I function as a fairly normal adult I believe. I have great memories of the fun times in my life and can recollect those really well. At other times for no reason, I seem to be back in the past or rather the past is here in the now. Last week it was a tune on the radio that made me feel that a past unhappy time had caught up with me. It was while I was driving and jerked immediate tears. I changed the channel as soon as I realised why I had suddenly felt frightened and frail and stopped as soon as I could to take in some fresh air and stretch my legs. These events are a form of post-traumatic trauma I am told and they are occurring less now than they used to. Nevertheless, they are very strong and disconcerting when they do happen. Usually, because they appear so suddenly and if I ever find the trigger it is a very little insignificant thing on its own. My counsellor has helped me with coping strategies for this such as dousing myself with cold water and sucking lemons. However, neither of these are workable while driving up the motorway. Another tool is some anchors on my fingers, such as day of the week, the month of the year, the country I’m in, who is the Prime Minister. One for each finger and this certainly does help ground me and bring me back to NOW. Although they are really useful, the difficult part is recognising that the terrible feelings I am experiencing aren’t now but are revisiting me from the past. For me, that realisation can take me quite a few minutes. In those minutes I relive what feels like a lifetime of abusive incidents. I suppose that the more I do examine these events and settle the triggers, the less this will happen and the more I will be able to fix them in the past where they belong. I had a couple of flashbacks last week which are still unsettling even though I know what they are and why. I have booked a session with my therapist to explore this more and see if there is anything else I can put in place to help myself cope when the flashbacks (well more like flash-forwards) happen. I’ll keep you posted… and hope that you too find ways of coping with your flashbacks.

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