I didn’t know what a flashback was until I’d been in graduate school (to become a therapist mind you) for two semesters and realized following a rough day with my boss that I would potentially be seeing male clients in my office. Cue evening phone call to my therapist who assisted me in returning to my body whilst parked on the side of the road in pouring rain.
Now I thought I knew what flashbacks were until that point. My understanding of them was full on checking out of current reality and reliving a previous experience. Of course this is true but so too are emotional flashbacks (no visual content) and partial dissociation (feeling of out of one’s body but still recognize the year, surroundings, etc). It would be another year or two following this experience that I would face the reality that *I* had PTSD.
Back to the flashbacks. I rarely have them now, as a result of some deep work with my long-time therapist. However, a significant portion of my clinical work is WITH trauma survivors and thus it is imperative I tend to my own self care. Sometimes I have to take some extra time. Today was just such a day. I needed to do a little more grounding, a little more self compassion, and a little more mindfulness. I chose lavender essential oil, and an earth element focused yoga practice.
I couldn’t have made the choice to engage in such self care were it not for my own therapy and thus would have run the risk of secondary trauma and/or lingering emotional distress robbing me of the next hours and days of my life. Or based on my history, engaging in unhealthy coping skills that have previously threatened my sanity and my life.
Growth is good.