I stare off and focus on a spot in the room. The image becomes fuzzy or non-existent and I’m instantly transplanted into my mind – into the scenarios I have been ruminating on.
I am back in my room from middle school. I’m surprised at how well I remember where everything is and what everything looked like. I am back there now, floating through the room to room, recalling the emotions I felt while here.
Despair, confusion, anxiety, connection, sadness, anger, frustration, fleeting happiness…
I come out of the dissociative and flashback episode quickly. I am left with lingering images, thoughts, and feelings from the episode for hours if not days.
A flashback is when memories of a past trauma feel as if they are taking place in the current moment.
When I go to sleep at night, I fall asleep fast – sleep gives me a break from reality and my deepening depression.
Since my mom transitioned, my sleep is filled with monsters. Images of family and relational ruin and gore fill my dream state with blips of my personal life replaying itself over and over.
Learning skills and tools to cope with these flashbacks is essential for me and essential for those dealing with PTSD on a daily basis.
Here are a couple of tips that I’ve learned to lessen flashback intensity and lessen them all together.
What can you do to help flashbacks?
–Tell yourself you’re having a flashback.
-Breathe! Take deep and slow breaths. Use box breathing. Inhale for 4, Hold for 4, Exhale for 4, Hold for 4. Repeat.
-Return to the present moment by using the five senses.
–Distract yourself by watching a film, taking a walk, calling a friend, etc. Do something you enjoy doing!
–Use DBT TIPP Skills:
More About TIPP Skills Here: https://www.manhattancbt.com/archives/1452/dbt-tipp-skills/
How can you prevent flashbacks?
• Be aware of warning signs. This can help you manage or prevent flashbacks.
• Identify what triggers you and make a plan on how to avoid or overcome these triggers.
Happy healing my friends. We can do this together.