Learning to See the Sunrise - Writetolife's Recovery Journal (e. abuse triggers)

  • 5 Replies
  • 577 Views
*

writetolife

  • Member
  • 112
    • View Profile
Well, I have therapy tomorrow, and I've got to figure out what I think about this week.   :spooked:

I don't know if she subscribes to the C-PTSD, emotional flashback ideas, so I'm afraid to tell her "well...I had this emotional flashback and felt like crud for the next three days, for two of which I could hardly function.  When I went out the third one, I kept looking around at the people in the store with me thinking "Please don't hurt me.  Please don't hurt me.  Please don't hurt me."

But whether she likes the term or not, it feels so validating to me.  Instead of saying I had this weird meltdown that I didn't understand, I like giving it a label.  I like being able to say, "No, this is a flashback and it has to do with my past and it people don't like it they can go take a long walk off of a short pier."  Having a title for it somehow gives me permission not to blame myself as much for it.  I realize that emotional flashbacks are social constructs just as much as mental disorders, etc. are.  But emotional flashbacks and C-PTSD are constructs that have helped me to feel understood for the first time in my life.  Before I just felt weird because I acted I had been traumatized, but I didn't have PTSD, so nobody quite knew what to do with me, and I didn't know how to explain it to anybody.  So I wasn't "sick" enough to have a diagnosis, but I wasn't well enough live my life like other people.  Before, I didn't know that my emotional flashbacks weren't normal. 

I think I've been having those blasted things my entire adult life.  I think those 2.5 years of nightmares I had were CPTSD nightmares.  They confused my doctor because they weren't of the same things and they weren't reliving any particular trauma.  All of the times I would share a little piece of myself and then melt down, at first for a couple days, was me having emotional flashbacks.  I was brave to push through those, and believe that they would get better as I got more used to confiding in others. 

But that had to have been an emotional flashback Saturday.  I had the toxic shame that everybody talks about, in this case, a belief that I was too flawed to ever be close to another person, a belief that I was unlovable, the feeling that I would always be alone.  And I was anxious - anxious that people would realize I would freaking out or that I wouldn't be able to hold the tears back.  And my logical brain just shut off.  I didn't know how to do anything about any of it. 

Seriously, I have to explain this tomorrow?   :stars:

*

writetolife

  • Member
  • 112
    • View Profile
Tracking for id'ing emotional flashbacks
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2016, 06:40:20 AM »
I think I might have had a mild emotional flashback today, so for the sake of learning how to identify them, I'm going to document it. 

A week before my dad and mom are going to the coast, my sister and I ended up looking up hotels for them.  I didn't feel like my dad was listening at all, and what he was asking for was a lot.  My dad and sister were speaking to each other in heated terms, too. 
Experience during and within the next 30 minutes-ish:
-A sudden, weird flash of familiarity with past that came with something that almost seemed like an image.
-anger/frustration
-tearfulness
-a fear of inevitable, but unjustified punishment (for not finding a hotel that he likes in the list of ones to contact)
-dissociation/shut down
-headache
-difficulty focusing eyes (dissociation)
-Thinking "the world is stupid.  Everything is stupid."
-Anxiety
-Feeling overheated
-wanting to hide
-minor overwhelm 
-discouragement
-difficulty thinking (dissociation)
-feelings of having failed (even though I didn't actually...I did exactly what he asked.)
-Guilt for not finding anything that I felt like would please him
-Shame?

Talked about it a little to mom and sister
curled up with a comfy pillow for a bit
played solitaire to try to break out of dissociation (didn't work as well as hoped)
Turned on fan
listened to music

Welp, I am definitely a flight/freeze person. 

Definitely triggered.  EF? Jury is still out, but I think it's definitely possible because of flash of memory, reaction that seemed out of place, negative feelings that seemed out of proportion for the stakes of the situation.

*

Dee

  • Member
  • 1489
    • View Profile

Writetolife,

I think you just did an excellent job of explaining it.  If using the term emotional flashback is validating, use it.  Your T is not there to judge.  If she agrees then you are validated, if she doesn't she can explain why not.  Sometimes I have a hard time talking about or explaining things to my T (who I think is fantastic).  When I have a difficult time, I write it.  I can collect my thoughts and be coherent.  I started with dropping off letters, then I graduated to letting her read them in front of me, now I can honestly say I have not written anything for awhile because I talk.  Going through the letter experience taught me that it's okay to share what I think may be stupid or too personal, she always said she is glad I told her.

I have recently decided I like to color when I'm not feeling my best.  It helps me relax and passes time until I can deal with it.

Good luck, you will be great!

*

writetolife

  • Member
  • 112
    • View Profile
Hi Dee,

Thank you so much for the encouragement!  The letter thing is such a good idea. 

I did actually manage to talk to her about it though, and she agreed that C-PTSD and emotional flashbacks are good ways of looking at what I'm experiencing.  And she didn't get mad, lol. 

Oh, and I love coloring, too!  It's become a bit of a hobby for me.

*

writetolife

  • Member
  • 112
    • View Profile
Tracking Update
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2016, 03:14:27 AM »
If how I felt is any indication, that was definitely an emotional flashback. 

I had a mild nightmare last night.  I've been grumpy and spent hours feeling like I was standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking an abyss of tears.  But the day hasn't presented anything to make me cry.  The regular invalidating stuff, but nothing too big.  And I've just felt really unimportant, and like I want so badly to matter.  Plus I've felt lonely because I've really wanted to tell someone that I've been having a rough day, but there's been no one safe to tell. 

GAH!

*

writetolife

  • Member
  • 112
    • View Profile
EF tracking - potential self-harm or suicide trigger
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2016, 06:34:23 AM »
Well, tonight's has been fun.  Too bad I have to work tomorrow because I am going to be stinkin' tired. 

I think it was triggered when my dad heard me singing and told me that he liked it when I sang because it let him know that all was well with me or mostly well with me.  And I was so frustrated and just like do you notice me at all when he said that because I'm clearly not okay.   Though admittedly today was a much better day.  I've been hiding in my room for days, which he could have noticed.  I've been kinda quiet and grumpy.  For goodness sakes I just found out that I have C-PTSD. 

I found myself wanting to listen to a depressing song, which I did over and over, which sort of fueled it.  And Youtube helped me move from sad song to sad song.  I started sketching, and then i started wanting to listening to a song about suicide from when I was a teenage, which was when i realized that I was probably flashing back to my very uncomfortable teen years.  I started feeling a bit like injuring myself and kinda numb.  When I was in high school my dad never had any clue.  I would be suicidal and he had no idea.  In fact, he was there so little of the time and when he was, he made me miserable for it.  When he came home from trips he'd want to get a quick meal out and spend the entire thing berating my entire family for anything and everything.  It got so I wished he'd stay gone. 

So, eventually it dawned on me that I ought to do something to interrupt the spiral, instead of art journaling and listening to sad music which was making it worse. .  For some reason I just wanted to experience it.  Some part of me enjoyed it.   So I made hot cocoa and read my Bible and felt the heat and smelled the scents to ground, and reminded myself of all the ways I knew that I was no longer a teenager based on what I was wearing that was different, that I have more power etc.  That didn't work as well as I hoped.  Then I tried listening to happier music and playing solitaire to ground.  That worked better.  I don't feel 100%, but I feel more like myself. 

I better understand why people say in flashbacks they feel like they become a younger version of themselves.  Man did being a younger version of myself feel terrible.  I hated feeling like that.  I hated feel alone, desperate, and so so afraid. 

And now that I think about it, I felt a little unreal, too.  I'm staring to realize that when I said about an earlier episode that I didn't feel like myself, it was actually more like feeling like a younger version of myself. 

So I'm learning some hints for identifying EF for me.  Thoughts of self-injury/suicide.  My art journaling tends to use large, broad strokes with gray, black, and red , whereas normally I do small strokes that are very concerned about details and nuances.