One incident happened when I was in my teens and one when I was in my early 20s. The second happened when I was in my final year at university.
I was fortunate to be in therapy for both traumatic incidents. My therapists were incredible and helped me so much along the way. I also had a small network of friends and family around to help me who were very supportive and still are.
Most days, I feel my normal self and experience regular emotions we all feel on a daily basis. Yet even years after the traumatic events and even with therapy, flashbacks can still surface. Sometimes out of nowhere, sometimes without warning, a trigger surfaces, resulting in a flashback and this can throw me off course for a few days.
I am a lot better at coping with my flashbacks now as I’ve learnt tools over time in therapy. However when I first started enduring my flashbacks, they were extremely hard to manage and cope with and it became extremely disruptive in my daily living.
My flashbacks that came to me when I was awake were different to the ones from when I was asleep. One flashback when I was awake that really terrified me happened when I was lying in bed. A trigger surfaced out of nowhere, I felt a weight on top of me pushing down, I couldn’t move for what felt like forever. This resulted in a breakdown.
My most frequent flashbacks surfaced when I was asleep, through nightmares. They were either me enduring my trauma again or someone else enduring my trauma and me watching. I suffered daily from these for approx 2-3 months, every night. They were so graphic and lifelike I would wake up in cold sweats, sometimes I wouldn’t be able to move from my bed for an hour because I was so shocked my mind could conjure up such graphic imagery.
Enduring these nightmares every night was horrendous so I soon began to not sleep ending up extremely sleep deprived and lacking concentration at university when I needed it the most. During this time I developed various other symptoms including a constant state of hyperarousal and hypervigilance which I still suffer from to this day.