Managing flashbacks is a very important part of my PTSD journey. Flashbacks are similar to dreams/nightmares they often come during the night but can also happen during the day! Mine tend to be in the night but I have experienced some during the day.
First i think its important to explain for me what happens when i experience these flashbacks and then how I cope with them during & straight after and things I do to try reduce flashbacks.
My flashbacks are always about my childhood. I get taken back to a time where I was scared , alone , hurt & being abused. Growing up in a home that was unsafe and full of abuse & drama. Each flashback will be a different memory from my childhood but the affect is still the same. I might be asleep but I do not feel that way. I feel like I have traveled back in time to that moment and I am again that little girl in that situation. Once the flashback is over I wake up heart racing , confused and unsure where I am. It takes me a long time to bring myself back to reality.
Straight after a flashback I sit on my bed and focus on two things breathing & grounding myself. I do this by having things around my room that remind me that I am in my house not my childhood houses. I am not in that life anymore I am in a new life! I have a night light next to my bed that I turn on as soon as I sit up. I then sit on the end of my bed looking at the wall next to me which if full of things that remind me that where I am now is not where I was during the flashback. Quotes that remind me of exactly what i need to hear at that point in time. A butterfly wall hanging that says "HOME" which reminds me that I am at MY home. I have a cuddly teddy to hold while I process what happened.
I also have a notebook in my draw which has space for me to write down anything I need to. Sometimes I find it helpful to write down what has happened in my flashback to write about later , discuss later OR investigate later. This notebook also has 2 lists. First list is of statements and questions to ask myself to help ground me . Second is a list of things I can do to calm myself down after a flashback including Listening to a meditation , Breathing exercises ,Listen to music , Walk around etc.
Trying to reduce the flashbacks and the affect of flashbacks are a little more complicated then getting through them. The days following a round of flashbacks are hard but as long as I focus on me I have learned to get through them. I take the day or sometimes days to relax , catch up on sleep , write about my thoughts/feelings and take some time to just breathe again. Trying to avoid or limited flashbacks for me the biggest part is avoiding my triggers. The next thing for me in terms of management is knowing that certain times of the year cause my PTSD to be worse and at those times I need to prioritize caring for myself.
PTSD and flashback management is achievable you just need to take the time to try things and discover what works for you!
As always if you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me you can find my contact details here.