Emotional Flashbacks & Sensory Flashbacks

Most people have heard of flashbacks, where you feel as if you are reliving a traumatic event.  It can be so difficult to tell reality from the awful memory during a flashback.  They are horrible, & I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

But, this isn’t the only type of flashback.  Emotional flashbacks happen too.  They are when something triggers an overwhelming feeling in you.  For example- being late makes me feel tremendous anxiety & shame.  My mother would get me to high school at the last possible moment to show me she was in charge, telling me how lucky I was she would do this or anything at all for me, considering how awful I treated her.  It’s been almost 30 years since she did this yet anxiety & shame still kick into overdrive if I’m running late.

Other examples of emotional flashbacks are things like believing if you make a mistake it makes you bad or feeling shame if someone disagrees with you, or doesn’t like something you like.

There is also such a thing as a sensory flashback.  Sensory flashbacks are brought on by something that affects the senses.  For example, smelling a certain perfume or seeing a style of clothing like your narcissistic mother wore creates terrible anxiety in you.

Emotional & sensory flashbacks can be managed with the same methods used to manage regular flashbacks.  Grounding techniques can help you to get through it.  Use something to stimulate the senses, such as smelling something with a very strong scent, or touch something with a very coarse texture or even hold an ice cube.  Something that strongly stimulates at least one of your senses will force your mind to take notice, & help to loosen the flashback’s hold on you, keeping you in reality.  And, once it’s done, don’t forget to take care of yourself while you recover.  Flashbacks, even mild ones, can take a lot out of you.  You need to rest & pamper yourself to recover afterwards.

Although flashbacks can be extremely painful to experience, they also can be beneficial.  They show you what areas you need healing in.  I encourage you to try to use that awful flashback to help you in this way.  As you feel strong enough, face whatever issue came up & cope with it the best you can.  Pray- ask God to help you to heal.  Learn about ways to forgive your abuser, because you deserve to be happy, without carrying around anger or bitterness.  Learn ways to take care of yourself, to be the nurturer you never had.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

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