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Is what I am experiencing a flashback? Trigger warnings for domestic violence and rape.

A

absoflippinglutely

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Mar 15, 2020
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England
Hi,

Sorry if this turns into a long post.

I have just started seeing a new therapist. I have four sessions so far including the introductory visit. I have previously been diagnosed with depression as a teenager and with GAD in my 30s (I am now 40).

However, recently I had been reading a lot of literature around trauma as a I feel all my mental health problems stem from traumatic events in my life. When I was 14 I was raped. During my 20s I was in an abusive relationship with a man who abused me physically, emotionally and sexually.

I had explained all this to the therapist during the initial visit and said that I thought perhaps I had a form of ptsd and was mainly concerned about episodes I have been having in which something will trigger me and I will literally "fly off the handle". An example is recently me and my (extremely nice and supportive) hubby were having a disagreement and something in his face just turned him into my abusive ex. I ran into the kitchen and started smashing all the plates and hurting my hand. Ended up on the kitchen floor balling my eyes out. During these episodes I get a very weird sensation of watching myself from the outside and thinking how stupidly I am behaving but I can't stop myself from acting. I hope this makes some kind of sense?

Anyway at my last session my therapist asked me to explain what I meant by a flashback. I told her the above and she proceeded to tell me that what I am experiencing is only a memory and not a flashback. She said something about just because I am being triggered to remember it doesn't make it a flashback. She also said if it was a flashback then it would be a fragmented memory. Basically she has told me that my problem is "just" anxiety and not PTSD because if I don't have flashbacks I don't have PTSD.

I have already had treatment for anxiety in the form of CBT and I feel like I've probably got all the coping mechanisms for it I'm ever going to get. It is the episodes (which I thought were flashbacks) which I really need to address because I feel so out of control and I feel like I might really hurt myself or someone else and even worse my children have seen me behave like this! If they really are just "memories" and there is no way of adapting my behavior then what is the point of going to therapy at all?

I'm just feeling a bit downhearted as I was feeling at least a bit positive about going back to therapy but now I feel as though my problems have been minimized. Especially with her calling it "just" anxiety. Anxiety is pretty crippling anyway without having these out of control episodes.

Anyway sorry to ramble on. ANy advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
S

SunnyDaze

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Hi there.

First off,you said you just started seeing this therapist. I wouldn't give up or quit or anything yet. They need time to get to know you and observe you.

I don't know if you have PTSD or not but I do know that not everyone who experiences trauma goes on to develop PTSD. I hope that you don't have it,I have it and it's definitely not something anyone would want to be diagnosed with.

I agree that just because you are being triggered to remember it doesn't make it a flashback. A flashback is where you actually flash back to the event as if it's happening in the here and now.

Not being labeled with PTSD is not minimizing your struggles or your traumas.It doesn't have to be PTSD to be painful or a struggle or something really really bad.

I would say give the therapist a chance. Don't push for a diagnosis of PTSD,just keep going. Chances are later on you very well may get diagnosed with it. Sometimes it takes awhile.

Hugs
 
calypso

calypso

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I would bring up with your therapist that the word "just" upset you and see what they say. They might apologise and explain that they weren't trying to minimise your suffering in any way. Give it a chance I would suggest.
 
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