Loc: FEMA Region 1
Ever since disclosure (aka PD (Post Disclosure)), I have been asked why I have such dramaticly sad, violent, vile, sad, horrid, and generally flucked-up FlashBacks (aka FBs) on such a high freakwency.
Human: "What do you suppose triggered that Still?"
Still: "Gee! I don't know! I only have 7 years of being used like a warm roast-beef for over-sexually-charged teens to reference when I see, think, hear or smell ANYTHING."
Today....Good Lord!!!!!! TODAY....I passed a street that was repaved. A STREET that was repaved.
Still's FBs:My street was torn-up and repaved for a year when I was 9-little years old. They were installing a municipal sewer system in our beautiful suburban mecca. It required a year of dramatic rip-up of everything and lots-n-lots of pre-cast concrete mega-pipes and mega-tubes, and mega passageways-n-things that we were all able to play in, smoke in, hide in and "get private" in.
Some older boys smoked pot. Some younger boys smoked pot. Some 9-yo's smoked cigarettes and pot with the older boys. One 9-yo boy did other things with the older boys inside the pre-cast concrete things. We all actually enjoyed a full 1.5 years of that municipal project, as the expansion of our development went into "Phase 2."
K...so...seeing a repaved street caused me a category-3 panic-FB.
When the vulgar and pain-filled memory of grasping re-bar while things went-on expired, I recalled seeing a neighboring street of quintessential suburban life in one of the alternate universes of childhood.
Yup...one white-bread suburban development away, was a neighborhood that I absolutely envied . The kids were real and ruled the land...the parents were un-seen (as required then), and everyone sucked the marrow of gen-x childhood.
Anyway...their street was re-paved too. And I remember that.
Hey, Still. I'm sorry the street repaving caused a fb. And no, I wouldn't be sorry I had asked. Seems I have a lot of them also. I would like to see the "Still Flashback Category Scale".
Cat 3, Panic FB... you made me smile. I wonder how you work through it. The silent trigger for me today was just a simple interaction. And my hands shook, literally, for 45 minutes. Mastery and control of the triggers are still really hard for me.
I had at least a C3PFB (according to the "Still's Scale" just today... a roofing inspector came by. In the ensuing sales talk sitting at my breakfast table he just looks at me and says, "You are one of the nicest homeowners I have ever talked to." PANIC. Please dont ask for sex. Please. My T is not here, and I cant say no. Please dont ask. You are not even a little attractive. Please dont ask for sex.
I know that was uncalled for, but even a simple nicety such as a compliment will set me off into a panic. Thanks, Still. I like your idea of the PanicFB Scale. It is intriguing.
For now we see through a glass, darkly.
Loc: FEMA Region 1
I had to develop the "scale," as the FBs were way too frequent and varied years ago, and all the professionals and ex-wife wanted to know about their nature and severity: This is what I recall of the scale:
Category 1: Little memory blurb of an event with possible mental images.
Cat 2: Same as 1 - add emotional twinge. May cry or get mega depressed.
Cat 3: Vivid video replay of an event, feeling, sensation, person, place or thing...moderate emotion. May take my breath away or cry. Mega depression or feelings of dispare is a near certainty to be triggered. Only slightly distracting from required current attention.
Cat 4: Vivid video replay of an event, feeling, sensation, person, place or thing...Strong emotion that can stop me in my tracks...crying, panic, anxiety, fear, grief are possible and likely individually or in combinations. New Amendment: My ears ring loudly and/or my shoulder and neck muscles spasm something awful. Dispare and depression is farging horrid and feels like death.
Cat 5: Same as 4, but add loss of present attention. Add emotional melt-down. Add feeling as if its fully happening here and now. Feel physical replay, smell, sight and sounds. Panic and fear are paralyzing. Vomiting and loss of breath are possible. Pissing myself is possible especially if its a nightmare or sleep-based FB. Sobbing and talking to "them" according to observers. My asthma can be triggered severely ("severly" as I no longer have lesser asthma attacks). I keep a home-based ER-type power nebulizer at the ready and in my car.
Had a cat 5 once while in the hospital. The staff said "was that a Cat 5?" I did not know the extent of what they saw, but the wet scrubs from tears and piss were a good indicator. It cost me a few more days stay in the gated community.
Thanks, Still, for the scale. I had just never thought about scaling out emotional pain of flashbacks in this way. I may have reached a Cat4 in recent months, but most of my fbs peak at Cat3. I wish you well, guy. And I hope the instances of the fb diminish as well as the levels of intensity. Stay strong.
.... and Geoff, I am sorry you followed your impulse on the Facebook viewing. It must have been absolutely terrifying to see him again. I am experiencing that dread myself. But, I guess if I do run into him this summer, I do. I am working hard to stay fortified and strong for that.
For now we see through a glass, darkly.
Loc: Hamilton, ON Canada
I know exactly what you're getting at, Still. I've been thinking about the causes of triggers a lot since Wednesday because I had a totally unexpected one that makes sense now that I've had a few days to think about it, but I didn't see coming at all. The conclusion that I came to is that unless it's something that's acted as a trigger before, we probably don't realize it will until it actually happens for the first time, like the road being repaved which is seemingly innocuous enough - unless it's happened before, how would you or anybody know that it was going to throw you for a loop?
I bought a house a few months ago and it's got oil heat. Not exactly what I wanted but not a dealbreaker for the house either, but the furnace is old so it's going to have to be replaced sooner rather than later and I'll convert to gas when that's done. I didn't give it any more thought than the practical concerns of how much fuel's in the tank, what kind of shape is the 27 year old furnace in, can it last a little longer until I can afford to replace it? To get a better idea, I had it cleaned out and serviced on Wednesday and my partner filled me in on what was done by phone and he told me that a little bit of heating oil got spilled when the filter was changed out. I got home and went downstairs to check the work over and the smell from the small quantity of oil that got spilled hit me and it dragged me back hard, back to my parents old house where there used to be an oil furnace when I was a kid. I used to hide where the tanks used to be, after they were removed when they converted it to gas shortly after we moved in. The abuse at the guy's cottage took place when I was drying off after a swim next to the oil stove. It was on because it was late fall and cold. My house hasn't had any oil smell until that small bit came out with the filter and dripped on the floor of the basement, so I had no idea that the smell in the basement after the furnace servicing was going to throw me for such a loop so unexpectedly. I'm still trying to shake it off.
If it's a choice between laughing or crying, I'd rather laugh.
Hiya Still. Thanks for posting the flashback scale as it has answered some questions for me that I have always been afraid to ask for fear of sounding like an idiot. I've always been under the false impression that a "flashback" had to be a full-on mental hallucination in which the survivor of some trauma actually believes they are back at ground zero, having the traumatic event happen all over again in real time. By your scale, I guess that is only describing what is more or less a cat 5.
I have always told other survivors that I don't really have flashbacks but by your scale, I do. Cat 1, all the time. Cat 2 rarely, but sometimes. (More often since joining MS and reopening this ugly little can of worms in my head.) Cat 3, only a few times, back when I was in therapy. I don't think a cat 3 could happen to me now but I haven't sat on a therapist's couch in about 18 years so, if I did again, who knows? Probably not though. Cat 4 or above, no, never, but then my CSA was never really violent or physically painful.
The other word that I've had questions about is "trigger". I often wonder if it has the same meaning to everyone who uses it. I've heard some say when something "triggers" them, it takes them back to the moment they were abused. Wouldn't that be the same thing as a flashback though? Are they necessarily the same thing? When someone says something "triggers" them, do they necessarily mean that it is "triggering" a flashback or could it also mean something else? Could it also just mean that you've heard or seen something that "triggers" a highly emotional response related to your CSA issues and that highly emotional response overwhelms you for a period of time? You know, something that pokes at your CSA issues like someone jabbing at some smoldering logs with a fire poker and causing them to burst back into flames?
If only the former is a legitimate definition of "trigger", then it is very rare that anything triggers me. If the latter is also a legitimate definition of "trigger" than, yes, I get triggered all the fucking time.
Anyway, not trying to hijack your thread here. It's just that your scale gave me the opportunity to ask some questions I've been meaning to ask for a while now. I'm sorry you've been in a bad place in your head lately. I hope you can find some peace somehow soon and that the flashbacks stop. Especially the Cat 3 and above ones. Take care. Peace,
I wish I had the magic you passed onto me when we first met. Those videos still hit me and make me cry for that boy. I wish I had the magic to put a smile on your avatar and take off those glasses. I think of you all the time but I don't know what to write when I see your posts, all I can do is cry, feel bad and wish I had the magic to say something that makes a difference.
I can talk about flashbacks but the only thing that hurts is the pain in your face. The pain in your videos. The constant pain that haunts you.
I love ya Still, I wish I knew how to get rid of those demons. I know it's deeper than the kids that used you as a rag, much deeper and much more hurtful.
When I was in the USAF I worked in a burn ward for a while and I thought that was hell on earth, the pain was constant with those guys, it never went away. When I came here I saw a different type of pain that was just as painful as any of that I saw in that burn ward. I felt helpless working there and helping debride the dead skin on patients. I feel helpless here also. Damn I wish I had that magic.
Peace, Rainbows, Love & Healing <3 XOXO Jeff
Stick around, It will get better....
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