Tag Archives: repressed memory

A Little About Flashbacks & Repressed Memories

Recently, I’ve been having a lot of repressed memories return to the surface along with a flashback.  I had a total of 6 repressed memories & 1 flashback in a period of 2 days.  Not a fun 2 days for sure!  However, I realized something.  They all had reasons for happening.

 

Flashbacks & repressed memories show you what areas you need healing in.  If you’ve dealt with events properly, you won’t have flashbacks about them.  You’ll also remember them, so they won’t be repressed memories returning to the surface.  Although they’re rough, at least flashbacks & repressed memories can help you see what you need to work on.

 

They also can enable you to feel emotions that you couldn’t feel, let alone process, at the time of the trauma.  When I experienced mine recently, for the first time, I felt all the pain, anger & fear I was unable to feel at the time because I was simply trying to survive.  Feeling those emotions enabled me to release the pain.  Finally!

 

Flashbacks & repressed memories also are a good validation for why you’re low or no contact with your narcissistic parent.  I only recently blocked my parents’ phone number after months of no contact from them.  My father apparently called, & couldn’t reach me so he sent his flying monkeys after me to tell me to call him.  Considering his age & failing health, I honestly had a tough time not calling him at first.  Thank God I have a loving God & good friends who reminded me why I blocked his number in the first place to get me through the worst of it.  A bit later is when the flashback & repressed memories happened.  They really helped drive home the fact that I need to stay away from my parents.  They showed me exactly how abusive & dysfunctional they are.

 

I know flashbacks & repressed memories are extremely painful to deal with, but if you allow yourself to learn & heal from them, at least that pain won’t be in vain.  If you’re unsure what you’re supposed to learn or do after a flashback or a repressed memory returns, then pray.  God will show you what the purpose of it coming to your mind at this time is.  I also suggest keeping a journal.  Writing things down gives you something to look back on.  It reminds you of things you may have forgotten, & offers you strength when you see how far you’ve come.  A written record can be a wonderful thing!  I use an online, password protected diary so my journal is completely private.  No one reads it but God & I.  There are plenty to choose from, so you might want to do the same.

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

The Difference Between Flashbacks & Repressed Memories

Not everyone realizes the differences between flashbacks & repressed memories returning, so I thought today I would explain them.

 

Repressed memories are memories of events so traumatic, you were unable to deal with them at the time they happened.  To cope, almost immediately, you unconsciously pushed it to the dark recesses of your mind, & forgot about it.  Then some time later (could be months, could be years later), something triggered a reminder of the event.  The trigger could be anything- a facial expression, a scent, the sight of something that resembles an item that was there when the event happened or a sound.  When the trigger forces the memory back to your conscious mind, suddenly you remember what happened.  It feels the same as remembering anything else you forgot in the sense that you are well aware it is simply a memory.

 

Flashbacks are quite different.  Flashbacks aren’t necessarily something you forgot.  You may or may not remember the event before the flashback.  The main difference between repressed memories & flashbacks is flashbacks feel like you’re reliving the event.  For me, this is what makes flashbacks so much worse than repressed memories- the feeling of reliving a traumatic event while trying to stay in reality.  Flashbacks can be triggered by something, such as the soldier who has flashbacks when he hears fireworks, but sometimes they simply happen without an obvious trigger.  Also different than repressed memories are the physical symptoms that can accompany flashbacks, such as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, sweating or chills, & trembling.  My husband has seen me have flashbacks many times, & even so, he can’t always tell when it happens.  I tend to get very quiet & still.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes not.  Flashbacks aren’t always obvious to those witnessing someone have them.  Not everyone having a flashback is vocal or shows obvious physical signs when they happen.

 

If you’re having a flashback, it is vital for you to know how to ground yourself so you stay in reality rather than get lost in the awful memory, which obviously is different than having a repressed memory return to the forefront of your mind.  Grounding techniques basically assault your senses, which forces your mind to focus on them instead of the flashback.  Touching something with an extreme texture such as a soft fuzzy blanket, silk or even burlap can help.  Some people swear by holding ice cubes or stomping their feet hard on the ground.  Smelling something with a strong scent can help too.  Lavender is good because not only is it strong, it has anti-anxiety properties.  A strongly scented cologne, perfume or soap can help.

 

I’ve found that pets can be very helpful while having a flashback, even if they aren’t specifically trained to be service animals.  While taking my cat, Sabrina, to the vet when she was a baby, I drove us past a place I used to work when I was a teenager.  Looking at the building, I immediately had a flashback to a time when my mother screamed at & berated me in the parking lot.  (Thankfully, I was stopping at a red light when it began- I can’t imagine having to deal with a flashback while driving!)  As I sat there & tried to ground myself, Sabrina reached over & scratched my hand.  Not bad, but it was enough to jolt me out of the flashback.  She’s never scratched me before or since, but I’m grateful she did that day. Her brother, Zippy, will get in my face & head bonk me to get my attention.  Neither are trained service animals, but they instinctively know what their mommy needs.

 

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

Repressed Memories.. January 14, 2014

Good morning, Dear Readers!

The other day, I had a bizarre experience.  i was gathering some wood from the pile outside to bring inside for the fireplace.  Suddenly a breeze came up & moved the big plastic tarp- it looked for a second as if the tarp would cover me, then the breeze stopped, laying the tarp down.  During that fleeting moment the tarp was elevated, a blind terror enveloped me- I was too scared even to scream.  I came inside my house, & prayed about this.  It occurred to me that I get anxious when plastic is near my face, such as the shower curtain- I can’t tolerate it even touching me- & have been like this ever since I can remember.

This was all very unsettling to me.  I couldn’t understand what was wrong.  Then, God reminded me of repressed memories.  Repressed memories are created by trauma that is too much for someone to tolerate at the time it happens, & the mind pushes it into the dark recesses of the mind.  Many times, they resurface at a much later date, when you are safe & able to cope with the pain.  They can be triggered by a look, a scent, a phrase spoken, the feel of a certain texture or about anything.  

What happened with me, I believe, was a type of repressed memory- while I still don’t know why I feel the way I do, obviously something has happened to me in my very early life to trigger such a drastic response, as well as creating the very odd anxiety I have always had about plastic near my face.  I think I have a basic idea of what happened to me to create this repressed memory, but I’m unsure.  

I’ve had many repressed memories come back to the forefront of my mind over the years- although admittedly none quite like this- & have learned a thing or two about them.  I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you today.

First, if you have a repressed memory come back to the forefront of your mind, don’t panic.  You aren’t crazy, you aren’t making this up or looking for attention.  Something very traumatic happened to you, & your mind wasn’t able to cope with it at the time.  You have become able to handle it now.  That is a good thing- it shows you are getting stronger!

Second, be gentle & understanding with yourself.  If something was so traumatic your mind hid it from you for a long time, then the event will be hard to handle.  Be patient with yourself- realize that sometimes you’ll be angry & be sarcastic with your children or cry when your husband asks what’s for dinner.  It’s frustrating to be that way, but it does happen when coping with trauma!  Apologize when necessary, but don’t beat yourself up about it.

Third, remember, what happened to you was not your fault!  Keep the blame where it belongs- on your abuser!

Fourth, don’t push yourself to remember!  Allow the details to return on their own.  I know many people believe in using hypnosis or other things that can bring repressed memories back, but I am not one of them.  If the memory isn’t coming up on its own, it’s because you are unable to handle it just yet.  Let it return in its own time, otherwise you can do more damage to your mind.

Lastly, pray!!  God will help you to get through this.  He will show you how to cope, & to help you forgive your abuser so you don’t go through life angry or bitter.  Besides, you need to get the negative emotions out of you anyway- who better to help you do this than your Heavenly Father?  Sometimes there are times you will feel unable to talk about it, & that is ok too.  Keep a diary, or write letters to your abuser (but never send them!), scream or beat up a pillow.  God sees these things too, & understands your pain.  

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