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#485729 - 07/19/15 01:53 AM Flashbacks - What do you do?
Cam76 Offline

Registered: 06/25/13
Posts: 17
Wondering what you find are good ways to support your partner / friend when they are dealing with flashbacks or memories? If you deal with flashbacks, what do you find helpful if someone is with you at the time, and what do you find annoying or what makes things worse?

#485764 - 07/19/15 04:03 PM Re: Flashbacks - What do you do? [Re: Cam76]
AlexBoyd Offline

Registered: 02/23/14
Posts: 46
Loc: Louisiana
An open ear and full acceptance without judgment or squirming. No matter how difficult it may be to hear, it is exponentially worse for the person telling it. Sometimes getting these things out can be life-changing. I have told my wife things that made we want to die of embarrassment, but I got it out and the lighter load helped. Also, I didn't need her to understand but only to respect how and why my memories had a paralyzing grip on my life (really our life).

I just noticed you directed this to families and friends of survivors, so I should point out that I am a survivor in case that matters to you. I wish you and yours much luck.

#485787 - 07/20/15 08:15 AM Re: Flashbacks - What do you do? [Re: Cam76]
trishy Offline

Registered: 03/09/15
Posts: 10
Loc: Australia
Great to have your input Alex. Its so affirming when I read your and other survivors contribution as it helps give me confidence as I make it up as best I can!

Much of the time its a matter of timing for my responses to his flashbacks as its not always the same for him, Cam. Sometimes he wants me to ignore it all together even though its obvious. Sometimes its enough that I just notice and let him know I see him and recognise its tough right now. When in the grip of it he mostly doesnt want to talk. he'll tell me what he wants, which I'm open to hearing Without judgement or too much of a response.

Too many words from me or questions are not helpful. His ability to hear and process information goes out the window.

Expecting standard adult behaviour and responses is not helpful.

Having needs that you would want your partner to meet is not helpful.

I don't know if that is just my man and just this stage of his healing as it sure has changed in the last couple of years.

It can take days for him to come back to himself. He no longer is crazy angry and flying off the handle thank god. But its been a long hard road to get here, for us both. So different advice for different times. And I'm just trying stuff out. Maybe now he could tell me what helps him, but prior to that, he's not had the words to tell me, which compounded his distress.

Mostly though, for my man I think he really does regress and needs a stable consistent steady me, still making my choices, living and undertaking my business with an open invite for him to join in.

His night terrors were very bad, and I'd worked out how to semi wake him without adding to it. I used the same kind of statements and pushed his upper arm in the same fashion each time so it was consistent. He has stopped the nightmares now, but doesnt sleep in bed with me any more. Is that related? He is in bed a few nights a fortnight.

He is not a fan of being touched when fashbacks are happening and is so raw and vulnerable for days after. Its heartbreaking, it really is. This is why he is the strongest and most courageous person I know.

To my mind, flashbacks are reliving or new recall of previously forgotten which is different from being triggered. Is that how this works?

#485790 - 07/20/15 09:40 AM Re: Flashbacks - What do you do? [Re: Cam76]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 2155
I experienced flashbacks for a very extended period. I can tell you do not shun him, do not make threatening or scary sounds, do not tell him to shut up, do not ostracize him, do not tell him it is not real.

I also learned the importance of just being gently touched (and he may react differently, you will have to judge his reactions), be there for him even if it is in silence. He will come to a place in the flashback and may want to be held, touched. Be reassuring and understanding. Listen to him if he wants to talk without interruption. A survivor needs to release. I can tell you from personal experience what worked for me and what nearly killed me. I lived with both situations and know the value of someone listening, being there in silence and their gentle touch and caress in the healing process.

Flashbacks are horrific, you feel as though you are reliving the abuse--from sound,touch and smell. Any words or screams that negate the ability to move through the flashback, stalls the flashback and holds one in a suspended state of being re-abused.

He is luck to have you there and reaching out to understand and find supportive ways shows the type of person you are--caring and kind.

#485885 - 07/21/15 07:32 PM Re: Flashbacks - What do you do? [Re: Cam76]
Cam76 Offline

Registered: 06/25/13
Posts: 17
Thank you so much for all for your feedback.

My natural reaction to seeing my partner in distress with memories and flashbacks is to try to make them stop. Being quiet and present while he is upset is challenging but its reassuring to know that it is what he needs me to do.

Even though my husband and I have been together for a few years I am still a real novice when it comes to these things. Thank you for sharing your strategies, thoughts and experiences.

#485890 - 07/21/15 10:46 PM Re: Flashbacks - What do you do? [Re: Cam76]
betrayed boy Offline

Registered: 01/14/15
Posts: 22
Loc: ny
i had a few flashbacks and like KMCINVA says its pretty damned intense and super vivid everything was exactly the same as the real life experience the décor, clothes etc it was like being in the mid 60s again I live alone so don't know about how I'd be with a S/O, I was lost in it for awhile I mean days couldn't think about much of anything else except it, if it helps any it isn't you at all its the flashback like the band .38 special song "hold on loosely" good luck BB

#485892 - 07/22/15 03:54 AM Re: Flashbacks - What do you do? [Re: Cam76]
Judd Offline

Registered: 01/28/15
Posts: 20
Loc: UK

I'm not sure how much help this will be but when I have a flash back... I need to be alone and handle it myself. I need space to come back to myself and to be honest, I don't particularly want to talk about it.

What I'm saying is let him lead how you support him, maybe ask him after if what you did helped, it could be what you are already doing is what he needs

#486245 - Yesterday at 10:15 PM Re: Flashbacks - What do you do? [Re: Cam76]
Strive 38/11 Offline

Registered: 07/24/15
Posts: 37
Loc: Australia
I have recently discovered that physical triggers to flash backs may lay dormant for many years before become active again with the introduction of the initial causation trigger. This occurred when I moved back into the family home to care for my father after my mother died. The family shower is the scene of crime a life time ago. In other showers in my life my determined suicide attempt failed as someone intervened. I've had flashbacks knock me clean off my feet in the shower.

Now being self aware of it, my task now is to remain mindful of the triggers power and persist to control the dissociation episodes while I'm in the shower. Unfortunately the shower is not alone for me.
Be well

Strive 38/11

Our thoughts compressed, which makes us blessed which makes for stormy weather.

Pure Morning Placebo


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