Wednesday, 23 July 2008


There's lots of really good advice out there about how to cope with flashbacks.

Trouble is, it doesn't really work. Because when you are in the middle of a flashback, usually on your own, the thoughts that come to mind are not, "Oh, I should stamp my feet / remind myself this is not happening now / notice what I can see." When you are in a flashback, you are in a flashback. Not outside it, watching what is going on. You are there, in it, experiencing it. Or at least, that's how it is for me.


marcella said...

Have you come across the concept of the emotional wave? I hadn't until last week but have been reading about it recently in the work of an American psychiatrist called Nancy Zucker. Basically she argues that "emotions are like waves. Waves...rise and fall.... Just as it is easier to navigate through a calm sea rather than a tidal wave, so emotions of medium strength are easier to manage than REALLY INTENSE emotions". She argues that at the top of a tidal wave (and surely experiencing a flashback to a terrible situation must be one of the most frightening emotional experiences to have) NOTHING will work - not relaxation, not reason, not distraction. The trick, she says is to get yourself off the top of the wave with minimum injury and to learn to surf further waves - to recognise situations or feelings that may trigger a tidal wave and to put the techniques in place before it happens. It's a 300 page book and I'm currently on page 46 so I've a lot to learn but it does seem a helpful idea to me that even if there's absolutely nothing that will help in the middle of a crisis, just perhaps, getting help before and after, might be of some use.

Disillusioned said...

That sounds a really useful analogy, M. Thank you. I keep feeling bad because I don't seem to be *able* to put into practice all these tips. But maybe the intensity means that survival is the achievement.

I am hyper-sensitive to suggestions that I am not doing "enough", I know. This is perhaps part of that tendency.

Caroline said...

if you've not already come across it, may be a helpful place to reach out to.

take care

Lynn said...

Yes, there are those incidents that we can't reason ourselves onto the sidelines of. I have it, too. This has helped in my overall progress.

Disillusioned said...

Thanks, Caroline. Have bookmarked it and at some point hope to be able to reach out to it, as you suggest.

And Lynn, thank you too for another useful link. There's a lot to read there - and a lot of depth too, I can see. Thank you.

Calum said...


I haven't commented for a while, sorry.

Try not to beat yourself up for not doing enough. Getting through a day is success.

Take care.