My last therapy session left me so flooded with flashbacks. Its scary when it happens. It’s like a little more than a picture that flashes in my mind.

What Happens in Your Brain During a PTSD Flashback?

I found this article that seems to explain what its really like when someone has a flashback.

Although people often associate PTSD with veterans affected by the horrors of war, the condition can develop in anyone who has experienced a dangerous, shocking, or life-threatening event such as rape, childhood abuse, or a serious accident. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD will affect 6.8% of U.S. adults in their lifetime. The condition is defined by symptoms like panic attacks, depression, and insomnia, but one of the most characteristic and debilitating symptoms of PTSD is something called “flashbacks.”
Flashbacks are like waking nightmares. They are intense, repeated episodes of re-living the traumatic experience while you’re fully awake. Flashbacks can come on suddenly and feel uncontrollable. They are more like a nightmare than a memory because sufferers often cannot distinguish between the flashback and reality, feeling like the traumatic experience is happening again, in the moment. Flashbacks are vivid, sensory experiences. During one, a sufferer might see, hear, and smell things they saw, heard and smelled during the traumatic moment.
How can flashbacks be such an all-consuming, visceral experience? How can they transport you back to the traumatic experience almost instantly? To understand that, we’ll explain what’s happening in your brain when a flashback occurs.

To understand what happens in your brain during a flashback, you first need to understand how memories are formed and how trauma disrupts the way this process normally works.
What Happens to Different Parts of the Brain
Memory is a complex process that involves many parts of your brain, but to keep it simple, we’ll focus on two of the key players: the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is associated with emotional memory — especially the formation of fear-related memories. It evolved to ensure your survival by strongly encoding memories of past dangers you’ve experienced so that you recognize and respond to those threats if you see them again.
The hippocampus, the other region of your brain heavily involved in memory, acts like the brain’s historian. It catalogs all the different details of an experience like who was there, where it happened, and what time of day it was into one cohesive event you can consciously recollect as a memory. In your typical, day-to-day life, your amygdala and hippocampus work together to turn your experiences into distinct long-term memories.
However, during a traumatic event this system works a bit differently. Because you are in danger, your body’s built in fight-or-flight mechanism takes over and your amygdala is overactive while the hippocampus is suppressed. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense: the processes involved in building a cohesive memory are de-prioritized in favor of paying attention to the immediate danger. As a result, your memory becomes jumbled.

When the threat has passed, you are left with a strong, negative emotional memory of the experience, but you lack clear recollection of the context of the event. In other words, you may learn to associate individual sights, smells, and sounds from the event with danger, but be unable to recall the sequence of events clearly.
Later on, if you encounter things that remind you of the traumatic event, like a smell that was present when it happened, your amygdala will retrieve that memory and respond strongly — signaling that you are in danger and automatically activating your fight-or-flight system. This is why during a flashback, you start sweating, your heart races, and you breathe heavily — your amygdala has set off a chain reaction to prepare your body to respond against a threat.
Normally when your amygdala senses a possible threat, your hippocampus will then kick in to bring in context from past memories to determine whether or not you are really in danger. But because the hippocampus wasn’t functioning properly during the traumatic experience, the context of the memory wasn’t stored, and there’s no feedback system to tell your amygdala this situation is different and you’re not in danger. Also, since the memory is retrieved without context like where or when the experience happened, you might even feel like the traumatic experience is happening again.

Understanding what’s happening in your brain during a PTSD flashback can help you learn strategies to cope. You can work with a therapist to identify triggers for your flashbacks, such as certain objects, people, or places. Then, you can work with them to identify ways to respond calmly to these triggers through relaxation techniques as well as cognitive and exposure therapies.
While PTSD can be a debilitating condition — in some cases taking years for the survivor to be stable and healthy enough to process the trauma — with appropriate treatment it can be successfully overcome

By Tiffany Chi,




I watched a very moving video of a forty-year old woman who was abandoned by her Mom when she was only eight years old. It was a very powerful movie.  She found her mom and she asked her Mom to stay with her for 10 days and she helped her mom see how this abandonment negatively effected her life. In the end the mom felt such guilt over leaving her. The daughter asked her to come because she was dying but did not let on right away about that. I wont go any farther than that so if anybody wanted to watch it I wouldn’t give it all away. You can find it on Netflix. Its called Illness.

It left me crying for a while and then I was ok. I started doing other things and suddenly I started to feel empty and even raw. I did not understand right away why I was feeling this way. I also felt a deep sadness. I finally realized that the movie touched on some nerves with my own mom. She did not abandon me like the movie. But although I saw her everyday of my childhood, I felt abandoned and betrayed by her. There is a difference between the mom in the movie and my mom. The difference is that the movie mom had finally realized what her daughter had been through and wanted to make a difference. In the final days of that girl’s life her mother was completely there for her. They made peace with past. My mom was there all along in my life but it felt as if she wasn’t. I needed her protection but she failed horribly. I needed her love but could not feel it. I always wondered just what was I to her? Perhaps a burden. That’s all I knew was this feeling that she did not want me and maybe she wished I was never born. This may not be true but that is how I felt.

She is not even in my life today. She lives in Tennessee with my youngest brother. I hardly hear from her.

Oh well, the movie made me sad and made me think of her. I do still love her even after everything that happened but I am not sure of her love for me. She could say it from time to time but actions speak louder than words. If only she could tell me and if only I could believe her then perhaps maybe I could have peace with it all.

What a Sunday!


I did it!


I did some EMDR (EYE MOVEMENT DESENTISATION AND REPROSSESING) today in therapy and it went pretty well, I think. She said I did really good. Ok, I can’t remember her actual words. The outcome was good. That is the way that it should  be.

I talked about my husband and our up-and-coming wedding anniversary celebration. I got the dinner under control. We are having lasagna for our special dinner. I got the champagne and ICE CREME CAKE which is the traditional dessert. Usually its a CARVEL ice cream cake. They are so good. Sorry that side thought caught me off guard and I just had to say it. You know how that happens right?

The only issue that came up was being intimate together that night of our anniversary. I seem to be constantly triggered  by the very idea of intimacy. I always end up feeling really bad about myself for withholding my body. Yes, sex, there I said it. Often times we start out ok but I can easily get triggered by seeing my dads face aka flashback,  over me instead of my husband. How awful is that? That’s what I fear happening each and every time we attempt sex. In therapy today I brought up all the feelings that I was holding onto about my husband and how unfair this all is to him. The poor guy just wants to have sex on our wedding anniversary.  He has been an amazing husband all through the years together. I owe him so much! I know to some this may seem like an easy thing to be able to do. But if you talk to survivors of childhood sexual abuse you are going to get similar answers. It is very difficult to be in the middle of it and then get triggered and everything comes to a complete stop. How horrible is that for my husband to have to just stop. How rude. No seriously, he understands my difficulties and he accepts whatever happens when it happens.

He deserves more than that and I am going to do my very best to make our night special. I will keep trying. My husband hasn’t given up on us and I am not giving up either.




I kid you not. I didn’t sleep a wink. My husband got up a few times during the night and kept asking,” why are you still up?” My answer to him was, “I could not sleep and I thought I would disturb your precious sleep so  I chose to go out into the living room and find something that might make me sleepy”.

I watched YouTube videos on reborn unboxing. They were really sweet. I have three reborn’s and I would like to purchase my very first silicone reborn soon. I enjoy watching the videos. They take me back to when my girls were little and dressed in all that pink and frills. I loved it. So now I have the reborn’s. I can buy real baby clothes and baby things and change and dress them all. I know it sounds silly but it’s really very therapeutic for me and others.

Well anyways, here I am Tuesday morning and just hours away from my therapy session and I have had no sleep. I’ve done it  before and I can do it again. After therapy I will go home and take a nice long nap. Then I will be good to go for hours and hours after my recharge.



So much for the pillow


I tried…I really tried to go to sleep in hopes of calming my anxiety and calming my fears. It did not work so well. I tossed and I turned and turned again to the point of waking my sleeping husband. That’s not right. He gets up really early in the morning. He drives through difficult traffic on his way to work.  He thought that this was an opportunity for him to take his chances on sex. Nope……….not happening either. I find it really hard to concentrate on my husband and sometimes I see my fathers face. That is very scary. But I feel selfish. It’s not fair to him. Our anniversary is coming up at the end of June. I want it to be special and of course sex is always a part of our celebration. That connection, for lack of a better term, is precious and has kept us happy for 38 years. I know my struggle will eventually end but its hard when I feel so deep into the trauma. I want the other side like it was yesterday. I get angry at myself for not working harder or faster or stronger or something. It’s frustrating to be patient and wait. My husband deserves the best that I can give him. I need the past to take a vacation for a while. I know it sounds silly but it’s entirely truthful.

So here I am back at my recliner and writing this post. It does feel good to write about how I am feeling. It gets it out of my head for a while.

I feel lost and heavy tonight.


This is where I’m at


This is where I wish to be at this very moment in time. The ocean has breath-taking sunsets to end the day in peace. Inner peace is what I want to feel on the inside and I want to feel the water hit my toes on the outside. How do I get inner peace and visualize a beach?

I have therapy tomorrow. Right now at this moment I wish I could push nightmares and flash backs away from my peaceful atmosphere. There is always a little anxiety before a session. It’s the, not knowing. I hate the not knowing, its scary. I seem to build up this anxiety from the night before. But can’t seem to understand why this is so stressful for me.

What can I do tonight to help the anxiety I will feel tomorrow? I am in a very comfortable recliner like the ones that you see at the movies. My cat, Max, as he is so affectionately called, is sitting below my feet. It seems to be his favorite spot at night when I am up late. He likes to be next to me. I am noticing the sound in the room. I am hearing the hum of the air-conditioner like white noise. I am willing myself to push away the anxiety. It works for a while but then I feel the heaviness in my gut. It’s telling me that I fear the conversation at therapy and the content of the session. I am not even there yet. My face has not even hit the pillow yet. No one knows where the conversation might lead. It might lead to a EMDR session. I don’t know.

I just keep telling myself that this is all part of the process of working through my traumatic past. I need to give myself a break and stop worrying  so much. It will unfold as it should. There is a direction, although I don’t like going there, that will free me from the past and see through new eyes the beauty of the future.