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Flashbacks From The Past Why Now

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It is coming to three months since my father passed away and its been pretty rough. My doctor gave me sleeping pills and they have been helping. He also prescribed me a low dosage of antidepressants. They have helped too. However I think they are helping me too much. When my dad died I could not think clear, could not remember one good memory of dad, its like my past was blocked out.

Now after being on antidepressants for 6 weeks my mind is clearer than its ever been. I am remembering so many good memories of my dad and past. I really like it. However, with the good comes the bad. I am remembering every detail of a brutal abusive relationship I was in at the age of 17 and it ended at the age of 25, only because I tried so many times to leave, and each time I would go back because he would hurt my family and he did.

Now, during the day I am having flashbacks of being attacked in my car by the abuser with a axe, waking up in a burning house that he had set, being raped by his friends to pay off his drug debts. WHY OH WHY after 15 years is this part of my life back.

Is it because of the recent death of my father, or is it because of the antidepressants making my mind clear. I can remember every living detail as though I am going through it again. I am getting panic attacks like I did when I was in the relationship and when I left it. I remember being hospitalized for the panic attacks as I had passed out.

Is this something I should tell my doctor, he has been so good and was happy that I was doing so much better, but now these flashbacks are becoming unbearable. I have a dr. appt. in two months but I am not sure if I can wait that long to see him. I am not even sure how to tell him.

My fear is that he will commit me. :( even though he is not like that.

I am just not sure how to handle what I am going through.

Is anyone else going through anything like this, or have any words of wisdom.

Thanks you all have been so great.

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I'm so sorry you are going through this now.

It must be so frustrating, to say the least,for you. ((((Hugs))))

Ya get one problem managed and another crops up.

If I were you... I would definitely call your Doc and discuss what is going on with you right now. I found coming completely clean with my Doc about things only helps him help me.

You certainly don't sound like you are a "danger to yourself or others" at this time. And that is usually the criteria for committment.. so I wouldn't worry about that.

Your Doc may suggest therapy or counselling though. No one can go through what you have gone through in the past and not have have lingering effects that they need help with.

Now, maybe you thought "Well, I dealt with that." Ok.. maybe true you have if you had some professional help earlier in your life for the abuse you experienced. And it may be just that this new med is soley responsible for those flashbacks. Or you could have some unresolved issues stemming from that abuse is all.

But I would not wait for the next scheduled appointment because I am sure he can help you out with what you are experiencing now. It could very well be a 'side-effect' of sorts of the med you are on or some other reason that he could educate you about.

This may be as simple as changing the med you are on. You won't know til you talk to him though.

So...Please don't suffer... you've been through enough.. no? Let the Doc help you sort this out.

All the best.

Keep us posted.


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My dear Midnight,

The reactions you describe (intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, panic attacks, etc.) are not unlike what would be seen in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As a bereavement counselor, I can tell you that, if this is indeed the case, before you can begin to do any effective grief work concerning the death of your father, it is very important that these issues be addressed first.

You might consider asking your doctor for a referral to someone who specializes in PTSD, where treatment includes simple tools (relaxation, breathwork, meditation and guided imagery) to help you master and calm the troublesome symptoms you are experiencing now. At the very least, I strongly encourage you to do some reading about PTSD so you will be better informed about it.

There are some wonderful and informative resources on the Internet (listed on the Traumatic Loss page of my Grief Healing Web site; see especially Gift from Within) – but I also want to recommend an outstanding book, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal, by Belleruth Naparstek, a psychotherapist and noted expert in PTSD. (If you click on the title, you’ll go to Amazon’s description and reviews of the book.) I cannot recommend this book highly enough, because it explains PTSD so thoroughly and it also contains some very simple, practical tools that you can begin using right now.

Among other things, the author points out that,

All of these people . . . were helped, in differing ways, by strategic doses of applied imagination. In each instance, what got them through was imagery, sometimes guided by a therapist, sometimes by an audio program, and at other times spontaneously generated from within . . . These imagery-based solutions use the right hemisphere of the brain – perception, sensation, emotion, and movement – rather than the left side’s standard cognitive functions of thinking, analyzing, verbalizing, and synthesizing. And that’s why they work. Trauma produces changes in the brain that impede a person’s ability to think and talk about the event but that actually accentuate their capacity for imaging and emotional-sensory experiencing around it. Imagery uses what’s most accessible in the traumatized brain to help with the healing . . . But too few survivors know this and, sadly, too few professionals as well. So people are not only baffled and alarmed by their symptoms; they are more often than not seeking – and getting – the wrong kind of help from people accustomed to using discussion, thinking, and language – help that often misfires. It’s not that talk therapy is bad. The emotional support of a sympathetic listener is as critically important as it ever was. It’s just that it’s not enough by itself . . . [pp. 12-13]

You can learn more about this author and her work here, and I think you may find this article of hers particularly helpful right now:

Guided Imagery for Relaxation

I can assure you, Midnight, that (given the history you describe) you are not crazy. The reactions you are experiencing are real, and they are demanding your attention. Please share your recent symptoms with your doctor, and seek his help in obtaining the help you need and deserve.

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I second everything Marty said.

Especially the part about you deserving help.


But truly.. your flashbacks are a normal response to an abnormal (abusive) situation. And the meds may have allowed you to open a door that any human would need help opening and in time... closing.

You are very worthy of any help. And I'm sure your Doc will have some good ideas on help for you.

I'll be thinking of you. And keep us posted on how you are doing.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I broke down and told my doctor what was happening. We talked for about one hour and I gave him a list of the flashbacks as I was too embarassed to say it to him.

He said he was so sorry that I had to go through this. He asked me to go to counselling and then he begged me to go. He said he will recommend me to a personal friend of his that is a psychologist. In fact he called him right when I was in the office and got me a appt. that day. He is so great. He said if I listen to him and the psychologist that I will be feeling good in no time, and that he and the psychologist will work together to get me back on track.

I went to the psychologist appt and was hyperventilating. I learned some great relaxation and breathing techniques.

I too gave him a list of the flashbacks, but now he wants to talk about them. I am not too happy with that but I guess if I want to heal I have to do what he says.

It will be a struggle but I am going to work on it.

I know soon things will be better.

thanks for caring

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Oh ((((Midnight)))) A Super Round of Applause for you! I know seeing your Doc about this must have been one of the hardest things you have had to do. But I can't say how proud I am of you! And I agree your Doc was so good to treat you like he did and to give you such a great referral for someone who he will work closely with. This is great news!

Yes I agree as well that this will be a struggle for you at times. And you might find yourself smarting & hurting to the quick sometimes but hang in there with this. I think you are correct in thinking it will be work. But I'm sure that kind of work will be way worth it all in the end. Keep communicating with both your Doc and the Psychologist. And don't give up! Make your healing a priority.. you deserve that.

And I think you are right again.. things WILL get better and you WILL be feeling probably much better than you have for a very long time.

You are one courageous woman and I'm thinking of you!


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