Emotional Flashbacks?

Emotional Flashbacks?

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Hey again. I’ve been thinking about something.
I remember feeling extremely nervous around him – a feeling I have never felt with anyone else – even with other crushes. I was hyperaware and could barely form sentences when talking to him. I think my body was warning me that something wasn’t right.
I’ve noticed that whenever I see him or when I’m in the church, my feelings are out of whack. I’ve known this for a while. The memories don’t play in a sequence that often, but the feelings are almost always there. Sometimes I’ll only feel unsettled and paranoid, and other times I’ll feel everything from sadness to anger to doubt to guilt and so much more. Maybe it’s because being around him is reminding me of everything I felt three years ago. Afterwards, I feel drained and unsettled, and it takes hours to get back to a somewhat peaceful state of mind. I normally take a nap after the service, which helps a bit. 
There are also certain songs, colors, dates, etc. that either remind me of what happened or remind me of my interactions with him. For example, a couple of days ago, my sister was singing something that we used to sing in Sunday School a few years ago. It triggered a memory. I froze for a few seconds. I was trying to get her to listen to me (and I was feeling triggered, vulnerable, and unnerved), but she wouldn’t stop singing. I got frustrated and had to yell to get her attention. I just wanted the singing to stop.
I’m more observant of my surroundings, especially in public. ESPECIALLY in church. I don’t want him near me. I’m paranoid when a guy is behind me and when I’m walking by myself. It’s harder to trust people. 
I’ve heard of emotional flashbacks, and I’m wondering if this is what I’m experiencing. I’m curious, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions too quickly.


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9 comments

  1. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hi music2799,
    Thank you for coming back and updating us about what is going on with you. Flashbacks are a fairly common experience for survivors on their path of recovery. I am very sorry that you are feeling this way. Have you thought about talking to a therapist? A therapist will be able to help you determine if what you are experiencing are in fact emotional flashbacks and can help you determine ways to cope with these times. I hope that will be helpful for you. If you need finding a therapist, let us know. Or if there is anything else we can do for you please come back and give us an update! Stay strong!

  2. alexcostello Volunteer

    Hi there music2799,
    Thank you so much for sending us an update and for being so open and honest with us, it can be so difficult, so we are incredibly proud of you and you should be too. I know that whenever I feel triggered by a particular situation, it is my brain making sure that I am safe and using what has happened to me before to make sure that whenever there is the slightest whiff of danger or discomfort that I am safe. The way that my psychologist described it to me is that our fight or flight sits in our bottom brain which is where our more emotional traits sit also, and then our top brain is our rational brain. The way to kind of cope with these triggering feelings is to first identify them which is amazing because it sounds like you already do which can be really hard, and then to kind of talk yourself through it if that makes sense. I like to ask myself things like ‘am I in real danger here or is my brain reacting to something else?’ ‘has something led me to feel this way?’ ‘do i need to take time out of the situation to get my bearings?’ It may also be worth keeping a diary or something like that to help keep track of your thoughts and the things that maybe prompt feeling this way. I think the most important thing is to make sure you’re being kind to yourself during this time, it can be incredibly difficult and the best thing to do is be patient and kind to yourself and take it one step at a time, we are here for you always and are happy to help whenever you need anything.
    Sending love and light to you
    Alex

  3. blashea

    Thank you so much for the update! I am sorry that you are feeling this way. While I can’t tell you what you are experiencing, I will tell you that it is valid and normal to feel the way you do. I know its awful, but I think it is normal to be more aware and even scared to be in certain situations that may remind you of what happened. I really hope that things get better for you, as I’m sure they will with time. I think you should keep talking about and expressing how you’re feeling as much as you can/feel comfortable doing so. That should help you process what exactly you’re feeling more. You are so strong and brave and we are all so proud of you!

  4. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi music2799,
    It’s good to hear back from you. I’m sorry you are scared. You have nothing to be scared of. He’s not going to hurt you again and hopefully no one else does either. Try not to think about what other people might do to you because it probably won’t happen. I understand where you are coming from because it is scary to think what if someone does something again, but you can’t think like that. If you do you will always be paranoid. Have you thought about talking to someone about this? If you talk to a therapist they can help you cope and recover. Flashbacks are common. It is hard to deal with them, but just remember it is in the past. You are safe now and just deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Thank you for updating us. If you need anything you can write back.
    -Alyssa

  5. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear music2799,
    I work in early childhood and have had a lot of training in trauma informed care and what you are describing is your brain’s way of trying to protect you. Something in your environment sends reminds your brain of what happened and puts you into fight or flight mode. You can re-train your brain not react in this way when you are “triggered”. It takes work, patience, and is best when done under the guidance of a trained professional. Learning how to breathe in a way that reduces heart-rate, blood pressure, and allows your brain to function from a logical state instead of basic survival is a wonderful place to start. Reminding yourself that you are safe in that moment and finding someone you trust to connect with so that they can help you calm yourself. You can also use the Crisis Text Line in these moments to be anonymously connected to a trained counselor for free. You just text VOICE to 741-741 and they will help you find strategies for calming and self-care.
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  6. Jordan L Volunteer

    As Erin said, I’m by no means an expert. Although, I am studying psychology in college right now. In my opinion, it could just be flashbacks or even some symptoms of PTSD with is common in sexual assault survivors/victims. I would always get an unsettling feeling around my perpetrator all the time even before I realized I was sexually assaulted. I always felt like I had to watch my back around him. The brain is a spectacular thing and does many things to protect you from harm.
    Your brain could be still reminding you that this person hurt you in a certain way and wants you to be cautious around them. There could still be some build up anxiety about the trauma too. Triggers won’t go away. It’s just how you figure out what your triggers are and find ways to cope with them.
    Again, like Erin said, have you thought about seeking therapy or counseling?

    We are always here for you! Let us know if you need anything!

    -Jordan

  7. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    It is possible that you could be experiencing flashbacks. I’m not a counselor, or a clinical psychologist, so I can’t tell you for sure. I know that I get them sometimes, and that it is common in survivors. Have you thought about seeing a counselor, to talk to someone about these things? I know that really helped me. Let us know if you need help finding one.

    Erin

  8. Jamie Marie Volunteer

    I felt that way around Jesse, my sister’s ex who triggered my memories of the rape. I would get this sick, nauesating feeling in my stomach, especially after the “incident.”
    I want nothing to do with him, nor see him unless I have backup, and it’s completely 100% valid.
    How are you holding up at least? Are you okay?
    Please come back and write more to us whenever you want to.

  9. Turnschaosintoart Day Captain

    Hello music2799,
    I can relate to how you are feeling. It is a very unsettling feeling. I am sorry you have to feel like that and be so uncomfortable. You shouldn’t have to live like that. Your body is on high alert and protecting you. Which is good. I am glad you are aware of it. And how he makes you feel. It is funny how Certain things trigger our memories. Are you doing ok tho? We are always here if you need us. Write back any time. Much love
    Kristin