Flashbacks and PTSD

by Veteran Knowsley

Flashbacks and PTSD

This last week the news has been full about the riots in London, Manchester, Bristol and Liverpool. Many people would have watch and sat in horror and they watch people on the streets burning and looting. To some veterans they would turn to another channel as quick as they could.   To them it was taking them back to a place they did not want to go. It was reliving the past on the streets of Belfast or Derry. To them the stones the flames were real. They could taste the terror feel the pain.  To see events in front like that is like in some ways like a flash back or a nightmare. Your there facing the riots feeling the bricks hit your shield.


So let’s look at Flashbacks. What are flashbacks?  An individual experiencing a flashback will describe feeling as if they are not fully in the present moment, but instead are in a past (usually traumatic) event. They may describe actually seeing things that happened in that past event and experiencing the event as if it were happening now. The room, place you are in has vanish you brain has taken over. I know from my flashbacks I have felt the movement of the stairs the curtains blowing in the wind. I was back in May 1974 the night of the bomb.

When flashbacks develop it is often because someone or something triggered you. Sometimes it could be a small thing or like this week wall to wall about the riots. The anniversary date itself may trigger a memory or photo .We all have our own triggers. In addition, because thoughts and memories about a traumatic event can easily be triggered, a person with PTSD may quickly and easily become upset. To the person without PTSD, these experiences of distress or anxiety may appear to come completely "out of the blue."  It’s only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. But if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will only get worse. You can’t escape your emotions completely – they emerge under stress or whenever you let down your guard – and trying to do so is exhausting. The avoidance will ultimately harm your relationships, your ability to function, and the quality of your life.

Some have panic attacks, be afraid to go certain places, or find that they worry more about safety for themselves and their loved ones. For example, a car accident survivor may avoid getting in a car on the anniversary for fear they will be hit again. Others may have physical or medical symptoms such as fatigue and pain. They may complain of headaches and stomach-aches.

Unwanted distressing memories, images, or thoughts

  • Remind yourself that they are just that, memories.
  • Remind yourself that it's natural to have some memories of the trauma(s).
  • Talk about them to someone you trust.
  • Remember that, although reminders of trauma can feel overwhelming, they often lessen with time.

Feeling like the trauma is happening again (flashbacks)

  • Keep your eyes open. Look around you and notice where you are.
  • Talk to yourself. Remind yourself where you are, what year you're in, and that you are safe. The trauma happened in the past, and you are in the present.
  • Get up and move around. Have a drink of water and wash your hands.
  • Call someone you trust and tell them what is happening.
  • Remind yourself that this is a common response after trauma.
  • Tell your doctor about the flashback(s).

Difficulty concentrating or staying focused

  • Slow down. Give yourself time to focus on what it is you need to learn or do.
  • Write things down. Making "to do" lists may be helpful.
  • Break tasks down into small do-able chunks.
  • Plan a realistic number of events or tasks for each day.
  • You may be depressed. Many people who are depressed have trouble concentrating. Again, this is something you can discuss with your doctor, or someone close to you.

Trouble feeling or expressing positive emotions

  • Remember that this is a common reaction to trauma. You are not doing this on purpose. You should not feel guilty for something you do not want to happen and cannot control.
  • Make sure to keep taking part in activities that you enjoy or used to enjoy. Even if you don't think you will enjoy something, once you get into it, you may well start having feelings of pleasure.

Certain actions can help to reduce your distressing symptoms and make things better. Practice relaxation methods

Try some different ways to relax, including:

  • muscle relaxation exercises
  • breathing exercises
  • meditation
  • swimming, stretching, yoga
  • prayer
  • listening to quiet music
  • spending time in nature

While relaxation techniques can be helpful, in a few people they can sometimes increase distress at first. This can happen when you focus attention on disturbing physical sensations and you reduce contact with the outside world. Most often, continuing with relaxation in small amounts that you can handle will help reduce negative reactions. You may want to try mixing relaxation in with music, walking, or other activities. Pleasant recreational or work activities help distract a person from his or her memories and reactions. For example, art has been a way for many trauma survivors to express their feelings in a positive, creative way. Pleasant activities can improve your mood, limit the harm caused by PTSD, and help you rebuild your life.

Push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Emotions are powerful. They can override thoughts and profoundly influence behaviour. But if you are emotionally intelligent, you can harness the power of your emotions. Emotional intelligence isn’t a safety net that protects you from life’s tragedies, frustrations, or disappointments. We all go through disappointments, loss, and change. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. But emotional intelligence gives you the ability to cope and bounce back from adversity, trauma, and loss. In other words, emotional intelligence makes you resilient.



In order for the victim to obtain a complete and full recovery the abuser must be answerable by law wherever possible and a legal aid system implemented in the UK whereby the victim can prosecute and obtain justice no matter how poor they may be. In order to work towards a fairer and more just society, the abusers should no longer be able to feel that as in past years, they are both protected and exempt from investigation because of their status.
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