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#40008 - 04/22/05 10:01 AM help, how do you deal with memories, flashbacks?
Galapogos Offline

Registered: 04/15/05
Posts: 110
Loc: usa
I'm new, found this site a week ago. How do you deal with flashbacks, triggered memories? I've been suffering recently triggered memories of early abuse. I feel like I'm losing my mind, more stuff comes up. I can't think about sex without terrible memories showing up. And anytime I just let my mind wander they pop up.

After a couple of days I started writing everything out in a spiral notebook, just to get it out of my head. I don't have anyone to talk to, I'm not in therapy or anything.

I found the "survivor to thriver" manual online, I think it said you had to re-experience your memories as a part of healing, another site by Jim Hopper, said that might not be necessary.

What do you do? Do the memories become less distracting?

I'll post my story sometime soon. I keep realizing stuff that changes the say I see my past. I've been reading a bunch of posts here in the last week, it's helped.


Digging in the dirt
Stay with me I need support
I'm digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt
--Peter Gabriel

#40009 - 04/22/05 12:00 PM Re: help, how do you deal with memories, flashbacks?
lostcowboy Offline

Registered: 11/10/04
Posts: 798
Loc: Rhode Island
Hi Galapogos, I am glad that you found this place, and am sorry that you had the need to find it. I can not help with the flashback memories. Some people forget, or suppress the memory of their SA (sexual Abuse), and have flashbacks later in life. I never forgot, and so far have not had any flashbacks. I have had anxiety all my life though. I did write my story a while back, it was the first time I remembered the memory in detail, and it was pretty rough. It took about three days to write the story.

I found a link to that manual you are talking about. First I have heard of it.

"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend." - Albert Camus
Pretty much my life as I have posted so far. Triggers!

#40010 - 04/22/05 01:28 PM Re: help, how do you deal with memories, flashbacks?
LostinPA Offline

Registered: 04/04/05
Posts: 120
Loc: Lancaster, PA
Hey Galapagos,
I am new too, so I know how difficult it is to reach out yet you did. So I congratulate you with a standing ovation for having found a home that hopefully will be safe for you. It is never easy to recall these memories and worse yet when we do that alone. Here you won't have to be alone and all of us care about where you are in knowing you were the innocent. Share your story at your own pace and know that some of us care so deeply about your safe return to the warmth of humanity. You can always PM any of us that feels safe and not postable for public view. Options are here for you now, just let arms unseen and safely help guide you in your journey toward your recovery. Welcome and let's be friends without fear. Best wishes in your journey to find yourself again intact.


#40011 - 04/22/05 11:20 PM Re: help, how do you deal with memories, flashbacks?
Bobby Offline

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 1287
Loc: Arizona
Galapagos, First of all, like everyone else, I'm sorry that you have a need to be here, but glad, if you have the need,that you have found us. We all really do care.

Now, about those flashbacks. I am certainly no expert about anything except my own experiences. So, here goes.......

They are so bewildering at first, like "What the hell was that?" And it's you and you know it's you and it's happening right then and there, but it isn't and how could it be that it's all so real and that your body is reacting as if it were happening right now and you have no control over it? And sometimes they go on in your mind while you're doing other things...if those are flashbacks, too. They're like flashbacks, but not as all consuming and are sort of like a movie playing in the back of your head that you can't stop and pay attention to right at the moment. I really was frightened in the beginning because I didn' understand the physical part...the body's reaction part. I'm sure you know what I mean without my going into detail.

Then after the initial shock, I got to the point (since I am a repressed memory person and have been hit from all sides with the "are they or are they not valid" arguments) at which I sort of welcomed them. I became a sort of my own sleuth. They were the clues to my abuse...the clues to the truth, and believe me, what I wanted (want) is the truth above all else. It was like solving a puzzle, only the pieces were coming in flashes. I still hated that they came on their own schedule and at horribly inconvenient times, but I was no longer particularly frightened of them.

Now (and this has been several years) they are not so much. The real flashbacks don't hit very often. The memories of them are still very vivid in my mind, but the suddenly being gripped by a different world from the past thing is pretty much over. Once in awhile...but not often. And memories of them are like real memories, because they sort of really did happen, although they really didn't...your mind and body have trouble sorting out the differences. (Maybe one of you therapists could explain this?)

Now, Galapagos, I have stepped in here and braved showing my ignorance to all of these nice gentlemen...but that's nothing new for me. I hope this helps in some way. I'd be glad to talk to you in a personal message if you want...or maybe not if this is as confusing as I think it might be.

If you can, please find a therapist. These things are so hard to figure out on your own, and you really need the support of someone who understands them and can tell you that you're not losing it in some way, and can help you sort out everything that is overwhelming you. I was so confused about so many things in the beginning. Now, I think it's obvious that I have the whole thing figured out (yeah, right).

I'm making light of me and not your situation. Believe me, I understand, and I care. Let me know if I can help. Bobby

I'm healing now, and I wasn't sure I would.

#40012 - 04/22/05 11:39 PM Re: help, how do you deal with memories, flashbacks?
reality2k4 Offline

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 6845
Loc: Stuck between water, air, and ...
Galapagos, I am not going to address flashbacks as Bobby has pretty much said it all, but I know they can feel pretty disabling when they happened.

It is good that you keep a journal, because I think the only way of healing the hurt is by dealing with it head on.

Bobby mentioned the jigsaw, I see it as a big jigsaw that has no picture on it, you build the frame and try to put the pieces into it, when youve got enough pieces the picture will become clearer.

I welcome you, and hope you find a lot of the answers that you seek.

Peter Gabriel is indeed a fine man, and diggin in the dirt is my favourite track, the whole album is tho, and I got the DVD.

hope you stay around,


Whoever stole the Sun, put it back and we'll drop all the charges!

#40013 - 04/24/05 04:50 AM Re: help, how do you deal with memories, flashbacks?
ak Offline

Registered: 01/10/04
Posts: 1491
They do become less I think. It seem strange to me, last year, when first I start this, I have lot of bad dreams, and lot of bad thoughts or memories, but never really flashbacks so much. Those seem they are coming more now. But I did not feel so much, not much at all then, and now I do. So maybe that is part why.

It help me to talk with someone, to have a voice that is real in my ear telling me what is happening now, where I am now, that I am safe now. I have few friends who can help me with that, even on phone if I can call before it gets too bad. I hope you find something to help you.


#40014 - 04/25/05 03:08 AM Re: help, how do you deal with memories, flashbacks?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
They do get less, I agree with AK on that.

Mine have reduced to a point where they barely trouble me now, they're little more than memories of bad times. The certainly don't affect me physically, mentaly or emotionaly like the used to.

I think that 'getting them out' is the key to this problem. Share the 'story' of the flashbacks, either by writing them in a journal and going back and reading them, or sharing them in therapy or here.
By 'dumping' them, in writing, and revisiting them we begin to read them with a detachment, it's like reading someone elses story.
I found that by doing that I thought about them differently, and soon began to see that what happened was actually out of my control. And that made the difference.
I was no longer a willing participant, I was abused.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

#40015 - 04/25/05 03:54 AM Re: help, how do you deal with memories, flashbacks?
MeAndMyself Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2
I've been reading the board for a while but haven't posted. As some others have pointed out flashbacks happen, although not everybody has them. In my case I remembered some of the abuse but refused to believe it had an impact until I just couldn't fool myself anymore. Once I accepted it happened other little memories cropped up. It wasn't a pleasant time. Some were so bad all I could do was try to control the panic.

That was roughly seven months ago. For the first couple of months I did have frequent flashbacks and what my therapist described as "intrusive thoughts", a good term. They will pass in time. Writing them down helped me, sounds like you're on the right track there, no pun intended. \:\)

Also, expand the journal you are keeping. Write down the good days and good times. Keep track of the times and ways you are able to overcome the flashbacks or just days that are good in general. That's something that helped me put everything in perspective during the times I felt like I'd never get better. I could look back and say "but I am getting better, see, here on Nov. 12 I said I had a good day because...".

After a couple of months they died down and I learned to deal with them. Now they rarely happen (one incident in the past month) and I can manage them. Once again, in my case, my therapist pointed out that along with the memories comes some of the emotions along with your "present day" emotions. In time you work through the remembered panic and it gets better.

I still keep a journal, but I had a little ceremony, sort of. When I finally got the point where the flashbacks had stopped and I'd gone a couple of weeks without one (an arbitrary time that felt right to me) I bought a nice new journal to begin. That way, even on a relatively bad day, I could reach for it and get a little reminder that times had been worse and I'd made it through then, so I can make it through now.

I agree with the others on finding a therapist. It helps to have somebody you can talk to. There are some good ones out there. I read the information on this site about finding a therapist and went looking. Expense was a major concern in my case - it turns out the local University has a treatment center where Ph.D candidates do some of their case work. It worked out well for me. My therapist has, in addition to work at the clinic at the University, worked with children and adult survivors at abuse through a couple of other organizations so she's experienced and all their cases are overseen by the director of the clinic, who is a fully qualified/certified therapist. It definately helped having someone to talk to who could guide me in ways of helping myself.


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