Today I take back my power, fear and circumstances nor other people shall have no power over me. My identity is not based on PTSD, it’s based on who I am as person, as a woman and the core of my being. Sorting all that out can be a challenge at the best of times, let alone with demons screaming in my head that I am pain, that I am less than and that I am a victim. I choose to see myself not as a victim or a survivor but as an over-comer. The reason I choose not to see myself as a survivor is because for those of us who live with PTSD we have lived in survival mode the entire time. I want to live not just survive, I choose to overcome and heal and not just cope.
I let go of shame and guilt long ago, they no longer have a hold on me because my traumas weren’t my fault and that is important for me to know. Flashbacks no longer have a hold on me because I allowed myself to be triggered choosing to work through them rather than avoid them.
“Flashbacks are like little movies playing in your head of the original trauma you suffered. Your body experience all the feelings and emotions you had at the time of the original trauma as if you are really there.”
I used the same method as I explained to use while dissociating: first of all realize that flashbacks aren’t real and tell yourself that while having a flashback even if you have to say it out loud; second of all pull yourself out the flashback and look around the room to see that you are safe and where you are, again say it out loud if you have to and walk around the room and touch things that are tangible so you know exactly where you are; thirdly tell yourself that what you were seeing and what you went through is over and the memories that you are seeing can’t hurt you; fourthly acknowledge and except all the feelings that you are feeling because those are what you felt when the original trauma occurred and they are looking for validation; fifthly let them go so they don’t continue to be trapped in your mind and body anymore, you can say it out loud or in your mind but it’s important to consciously let them go. Repeat for every flashback and you will notice they start to decline.
It’s important to face your fears head on and work through them because one of the major symptoms of PTSD is avoidance. Avoiding your fears only allows them to have power over you and to fester into something bigger. I did this on my own but having a therapist work with you in controlled conditions might be a better choice for you.
Identifying your triggers and working through those is also another step toward healing and you can follow the same steps as with flashbacks when you’re triggered. What was it that triggered you? Allow yourself to feel what you feel and remember there is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings, they just are what they are and they’re all valid.
“For people with PTSD, it is very common for their memories to be triggered by sights, sounds, smells or even feelings that they experience. These triggers can bring back memories of the trauma and cause intense emotional and physical reactions, such as raised heart rate, sweating and muscle tension.”
It’s important to know yourself and your body, when you have been triggered your going to notice you get more anxious or become afraid, your heart rate goes up and your emotional reaction to whatever triggered you will be excessive for the situation. That’s because your mind and body are again experiencing the original trauma that has now been triggered by something like a sight, sound. smell or similar situation. You may or may not have flashbacks during this time or your body may just react due to body memories that your mind has no recall of.
These flashbacks and triggers will continue until you give them what they need: validation, acceptance and show yourself the love and compassion that you needed at the time of the trauma. This because at the time you were traumatized you didn’t receive the validation of your feelings that you required and also rather than accept what happened, you have trying to run away from it, maybe deny it but have done anything but accept it.
Also the love and compassion that you required probably weren’t present either especially the love for yourself. It’s time to give what you needed at the time of those traumas back to yourself, you don’t need outside validation from others and others don’t need to accept what you went through in order to make it true or for your feelings to be valid. You also need to love and accept yourself as the beautiful human being you are in order for your journey to begin back to your true authentic self.