A tsunami survivor reflects on living with flashbacks, and how trauma therapy helped him look at life from a fairer perspective.
The reality of flashbacks didn’t really sink in until well after I was officially diagnosed. I guess I’d become so accustomed to the number of daily flashbacks that I couldn’t fairly reflect on what was going on.
The majority of the time I could “control” how I’d react to being back there. Although, at times, I couldn’t believe the reality of the trauma. I’d just try to block the worst of it out. Sometimes, I could distract myself and just numb the pain before falling asleep but I wouldn’t dream properly.
I wasn’t the one calling the shots. I was never really in control. I wouldn’t take into account how my inner dialogue would change, how being hyper vigilant to the constant perception of danger would wear me down. How I’d use so much mental energy to subconsciously fight to block out the worst of what I saw and felt during the search and rescue.
I’d get lost in the waves as a result of constantly seeing the same images being continuously replayed in my mind’s eye.
There are so many things I wish I could have changed, I would have sacrificed myself for the dead pregnant girl in an instant. (Fuck this is hard to write ) I’ll never forget finding her dead body. None of that shit was fair.
My life still isn’t perfect. I still have a skill for getting myself into trouble. Things may have changed deep inside me, but I constantly have to work on changing and conditioning my reactions so they are less intense, and most importantly, from a fairer perspective.
A fairer perspective is easier said than done. My treatment took me to a place where I could adjust how my inner dialogue would play after a flashback. I gave my self the benefit of the doubt by accepting the severity of what I was involved in. I didn’t blame myself for things which were clearly out of my control.
There are times when I still get depressed and fall into self-destructive thought patterns, but these “relapses” have become less frequent. By focusing on the skills I developed during my treatment, I can push myself to climb to a higher ground where I can breathe easier. I am able to see the big picture rather than everything being filtered through a lens of fear, anger, and guilt.Originally posted on PTSDJediwhologwhy/Flickr