Tag Archives: living with PTSD

Two Types of Flashbacks

The last time I was cleaning 5 days a week (my goal) except for dishes/food clean up was last month. On the 15th, I wrote this blog saying, “I’m doing it!” and started waking up in full panic: heart pounding, palms sweating, shaking, the whole thing. When I have a full, emotional flashback, it’s a two-week readjustment, but not a cleaning flashback. Those take longer, about 4 weeks.

What I’ve done successfully, is to make the routines, at least a minimum of them just habit. So, for the past 4 weeks, I’ve done some laundry, but haven’t put it away consistently. Done some dishes every day, but rarely are all of them done, etc. There aren’t 4 weeks of accumulated laundry and dishes to do. I haven’t gotten much sleep and my stress levels are up, but I’ve dealt with it.

My challenge is to either 1)Try and add to what I can do in the “bad times.” or 2)Lengthen the period when I can clean. The problem with either and this challenge is that if I notice what I’m doing — the panic starts.

I’m really sick of fighting this stuff! I’m in my 60s — I am honestly, truly tired of being affected by things which happened in my childhood. But they gave me PTSD and all of it, the mess to hide in and the other events or adaptations I made to protect myself, are all wrapped together as my flashback. Push on any piece too hard and there I go down the flashback rabbit hole.

The only difference is that when I’m pushed emotionally, I have a successful route I forged back. From something like the movie thing, it takes a day or two. If someone attacks me? It takes two full weeks.

I don’t have such a mechanism for the panic attacks/cleaning flashbacks. What I originally did with the emotional ones was to recreate my growth, one step at a time away from the painful place I used to live. I haven’t managed anything except the very first steps away from the panic/stress.

  1. I understand the root of the panic.
  2. I also understand that the reason it was and is so hard to fight is that when it occurs, I’m in full fight/flight panic mode.
  3. I have realized that the only way I know which might work is to habitualize the cleaning.

That’s worked to some extent or the other.

What hasn’t worked? Finding a way to notice that I’m cleaning and not go into a full-blown panic attack/flashback.

There’s hope. Until I typed what’s above and remembered what I’d done for the emotional attacks, I’d forgotten that I ritualized the steps away from the bad old days. I did that for years until my therapist said, “Do you really have to recreate each step, one after the other these days? Next time, see if you can’t condense some of it.” And I could!

So, hope exists. But it took me 20 years or so to heal enough that I could conceive of  recreating the healing route. Twenty months longer on the cleaning/panic is about 18 months more than I want to spend….

But, of course, the being dictating the rate I can go isn’t my conscious, adult brain, but that wounded little girl, whose body remembers all the trauma. She and the body run the roadways and determine how much I can do and how fast. train image from target

My adult self just has to sit back, be patient, and wait. It sometimes feels as if I’m a passenger on an electric train. I got on, the doors closed and locked. All I can do is patiently wait until it stops!



Why It’s So Hard

Nov 21, 2016: I wrote this about a year ago. I don’t remember what prompted it. I don’t remember what it was about at all. But I’ve had conversations lately about PTSD. And I keep running into the idea from others with it, that because I cope pretty well I don’t have complex PTSD, or I have a mild case. In both instances my response is: NOT! But I don’t show this stuff or talk about it much, or haven’t in the past. So, the post below is about my PTSD and what I do you may or may not know. This isn’t the more obvious bits like avoiding the news or even the struggle with the house. This is the part that made me scared I was crazy for many,many years.

Just so you know, my “whining” about how hard dealing with all and sundry includes things you probably don’t know about or see.

I’m not going to talk about the pain that goes with PTSD, because that at least I mostly have under control, but it lurks around the corner all the time. It may not be front and center any more, but it’s there.

Almost always when I look off a bridge, cliff, or such, I think about jumping, for an instant. At least once a day, EVERY day, something about suicide floats through my mind. I’d love dearly for it not to be so, but it is.

Also, at least once daily, for an instant I think about something like screaming, smashing my car into a wall, pounding my head into a bloody pulp somewhere, like concrete.

None of this do I do, or hardly ever since I was in my 20s. But this occurs, day in and day out. When folks tell me to get over it, give it to God, or just think about something else, they’re thinking about the big stuff, the PTSD the abuse, etc. because that makes sense to them. But these things flit in and out of my head. Every. Single. Day. If you know a way to make it stop, I’d love to hear it! Especially if  it isn’t an addiction to a set of beliefs, drugs or behaviors. I’ve never found anything that works.

I ignore it, every day. Maybe Shrink-1 was right and I am borderline schizophrenic. I don’t know. I just know this takes effort and energy and you almost certainly never see this.

But it’s there. Do you know what it’s like to be really scared of yourself? Probably not. Aren’t you lucky?

Don’t give me your pat answers. Don’t tell me how “easy” it is with the right attitude. I fight battles and monsters every day you probably don’t know, don’t see, and can’t comprehend. I repeat: Aren’t you lucky?