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#454887 - 11/23/13 07:20 PM Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers)
toddop Offline

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 233
Loc: California
I have been having some issues lately with intrusive flashbacks. Normally, my flashbacks have occurred in bed, in the middle of the night, around 3:00-4:30am after waking up from a nightmare. They are intense, but I handle them and then if all goes well, I can return to sleep.

Lately, I have been having really intrusive flashbacks during the day. An example of this is seeing my biological father. I see him a lot when I am in the bathroom. I feel as if I was still a little boy and he is looking at me with those intense eyes. I see him as if he was in the shower looking around the shower curtain at me. I see him as if he was opening the bathroom door and staring at me naked in the bathroom and him entering the bathroom. I also see him when I used to pee and he would tell me to take all my clothes off to pee and just stare at me while I tried to pee. I used to get really scared when he would do that. I knew it would lead to trouble in that I would be abused.

The odd thing is that sometimes I see these memories as if I was the kid and I am in the scene and it is happening to me. But, other times, I see the memories as if I am looking at the scene from outside of it, like it is happening to another boy on a theatre stage or set. So it is really challenging to be going back and forth between those perspectives. Needless to say I have been completely disoriented and in a state of panic about these flashbacks. I feel like I am a little boy again and have the raw fear and sadness of that boy.

I used to see the shower as my own refuge. After the abuse with the coach, which occurred after my biological father abused me and left for good, I used to just come home and stand under the hot water and wash off repeatedly. I would totally zone out and dissociate. I have done that all my life with long showers. But, now I am having these crazy flashbacks about my biological father in the bathroom, I feel like one of my main refuges or escapes is being stolen from me.

I have also had other flashbacks while at work, or when out on walks that just take over my mind. I feel like a walking mess right now, unsure of what is going to pop up from one moment to the next.

I would love to hear from others who have these types of flashbacks and how they handle them. I want to work on getting a handle on what is going on, and minimizing these flashbacks. So if anyone has any tips, feedback, or resources they could point me to, I could really use it.

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
-Albert Einstein

#454899 - 11/23/13 10:11 PM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: toddop]
don64 Offline

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 1106
I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this toddop. Don
Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

#454917 - 11/24/13 03:26 AM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: toddop]
unhappycamper Offline

Registered: 10/21/11
Posts: 753
Loc: VA
I often found that the "mantra" technique helped with the flashbacks. My mantra for that purpose was simply "Here And Now." It usually (not always) worked to remind me that the FB was a memory of something that happened somewhere else and in the past.

For me, the only way to deal with FBs was to use one or another of these cognitive tricks. They sound simplistic when you read about them in a book, but they can help reduce the duration of the disturbing effects of FBs.


#454919 - 11/24/13 04:59 AM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: unhappycamper]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: unhappycamper
I often found that the "mantra" technique helped with the flashbacks. My mantra for that purpose was simply "Here And Now." It usually (not always) worked to remind me that the FB was a memory of something that happened somewhere else and in the past.

For me, the only way to deal with FBs was to use one or another of these cognitive tricks. They sound simplistic when you read about them in a book, but they can help reduce the duration of the disturbing effects of FBs.



John's techniques as described above were what helped me. I went through a stage after my memories emerged where I had flashbacks like you are having. They will gradually decrease with time.

My T told me to ask myself the question when a flashback started to occur: "Where am I? Who am I? Is this happening now?" It works. It worked for me.


#454921 - 11/24/13 05:13 AM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: toddop]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4197
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Someone suggested to me that I look around and name the things I see -out loud if possible. Or narrate what I am doing - like : "now I am sitting in the tan arm chair in the den and I am taking my shoes off and next I will take a drink of water and turn on my favorite music..." etc. Counting objects or putting books or Cd 's in alphabetical order may also help - something to engage the mind and snap out of the " deer in the headlights " paralysis.
How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#454924 - 11/24/13 06:29 AM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: toddop]
DavoSwim Offline

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 395
Loc: Midwest

I can relate to your post. When I was about 11, my brother decided he'd show me what men do to women. It was normal experimentation which went too far. He got me to take off my pajama bottoms and lie on my bed. Then he lay on top of me and rubbed our dicks together. He said this is when the man puts it in the woman. He didn't penetrate me, but made it clear he could if he wanted to.

That whole incident lay dormant in my mind until about 10 months ago. When I started the healing journey. These memories popped up, repeatedly. I can recall everything that happened that morning. When the memories happen, I don't feel like I'm part of the situation, I feel like I'm watching as one watches a movie. It seems like it's playing out on screen, and I'm sitting back watching it. What's funny is that I feel it as it happens, although I'm just watching it. It's bizarre.

When I told my T about it. He kept telling me not to get lost in the situation. He said only let the memories proceed bit by bit. As I feel safer, I can remember more and more of that incident. He said this is a way to teach myself to handle it.

I guess it's working - I can talk about the incident fully now without my heart racing or feeling like I'm go to fall apart. What's interesting is I remember it, but don't necessarily feel like it happened to me. I feel like I observed the whole thing

I haven't completely come to terms with this. It still bothers me, but I don't fall apart when discussing this.

Thanks Todd for writing about this. Hearing your story helps me understand my situation better as well as learning to cope with the memories. I don't know if this helps you, as much as you've helped me. Thanks for bringing this out in the open


#454931 - 11/24/13 01:17 PM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: toddop]
SayItRight Offline

Registered: 10/06/13
Posts: 127

Edited by SayItRight (07/30/16 01:03 AM)
I always tried one thing:
To make what happened to me not matter at all.
Turns out, it was supposed to matter.
Who knew?

#454932 - 11/24/13 01:27 PM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: toddop]
newground Offline
Chat Moderator

Registered: 10/11/11
Posts: 1134
Loc: michigan
hey todd
It is important in dealing with intrusive thoughts that we find some grounding techniques. these are ways that we remind ourselves that I am safe. This is now, he cannot hurt me. I know that sounds like a tall order but it can help a lot.deep breathing then placing both feel flat on the ground and being intentional about feeling the floor. there are a lot of grounding techniques, I don't know a lot of them. There are some that you practice to work as a distraction when the thoughts come. think of something, a category you like or something like say fruit. practice as these thoughts attempt to intrude thinking of fruit that starts with a certain letter then move to the next letter etc. in that way you become "in charge " of your thinking again. long post but I hope it helps

Edited by newground (11/24/13 01:31 PM)
Edit Reason: typos
Either I will find a way, or I will make one.
Philip Sidney

#454969 - 11/25/13 03:42 AM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: toddop]
Mountainous Buck Offline

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 1631
Loc: Minnesota
I used to have night terrors- I look back at them now as a piece of my core abuse and childhood speaking to me and needing expression and facing that I have worked through.

Talking about it in therapy helped- this included working up the courage to do a session of EMDR that specifically addressed the flashbacks and helped take the charge away.

Whatever we share some of our deepest fears I think we take away the power and release a piece of them - and the courage and honesty that we used to express those fears take their place inside of us and makes us a bit more honest and brave.
We have to take responsibility for what we're not responsible for.

�It doesn't matter where you've come from,
It matters where you go" Frank Turner

#454982 - 11/25/13 05:46 AM Re: Intrusive Flashbacks (Possible Triggers) [Re: toddop]
catfish86 Offline

Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Ohio

I experienced "daydreams" over the years and some mild nightmares. Didn't put 2&2 together until triggers caused flashbacks of my uncle's abduction of me and my brother to come. Those flashbacks were extremely intense. One blackout left me bleeding (not from a physically caused injury but bleeding from what happened) while another actually caused me to blackout from pain/fear.

Grounding techniques and breathing techniques. The breathing while imagining a safe place on a 3 times a day plus when needed to calm down my body which was on a runaway body breakdown spiral(I was extreme high blood pressure (ie 206/156), bed ridden with back pain, going blind for days with eye irritations that wouldn't heal, blood sugar swings indicating diabetes, heart pains, weight gain, hip pain).

The grounding was for experiencing actual flashbacks.

What I was taught for grounding was to systematically use all five senses (sight, touch, taste, smell & hearing) to sense something presently around me until the flashback dissipated. While there are different techniques for grounding, essentially it involves engaging in the reality around you.
God grant me
The Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

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