Saturday, March 24, 2012

Flashbacks


What is a flashback?

A flashback is a very vivid memory that seems as if it's really happening at the very moment you experience the flashback. A lot of Vietnam vets have flashbacks from the war and are triggered by loud noises or environment. People with DID often times will have these kind of memories and they are hard to get through at times. Here are some coping strategies that may help you during a flashback.

1. Tell yourself you are having a flashback and that this is okay and very normal in people who have experienced trauma.

2 .Remind yourself the worst is over- the trauma has already happened and is not happening now. You survived the awfulness then, which means you can survive and get through what you are remembering now.

3. Call on the rational part of yourself to tell the irrational and fearful part that you are not alone, are not in any danger now, and that you will get through this. Reassure the fearful part of yourself that it's okay to remember and feel and this will help in healing from what happened.

4. Try some of these ways of "grounding" yourself and staying in the present:

-Stamp your feet, grind them on the floor to remind yourself where you are now.

-Look around the room, notice the colors, the people, the shapes.

-Suck on ice cubes, peppermint or cinnamon candies.

-Have an elastic band on your wrist that you can "ping" against your wrist and feel it on your skin. That feeling is NOW, the things you are re-experiencing are in the past.

5. Watch your breathing. Breathe deeply down to you diaphragm. Your tummy should go in when you breathe in , and out when you breathe out. You can also count to 5 as you breathe in and out. When one is scared they breathe too quickly and shallowly and the body begins to panic because it is not getting enough oxygen. This causes dizziness, shakiness, and more panic. Breath in slowly and deeply will help stop the panic.

6. Get support if you would find it helpful. Let people close to you know about flashbacks so they can help you if you want them to. That might mean holding you, talking to you, helping you reconnect to the present, to remember you are safe and cared for now.

7. Flashbacks are powerful experiences which drain your energy. Take time to nurture yourself when you've had a flashback. This could be in the form of a warm bath, some soothing music, a warm drink, or just some quiet time for yourself. You deserve to be taken care of!

8. When you feel ready, write down all you can remember about the flashback and how you got through it. This will help you remember information for your healing and to remind you that you did get through it (and can again, if need be.)

9. Remember you are not crazy. Flashbacks are normal and you are healing!

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