How do I stop the flashbacks?

Hi all. Well it's almost coming up for a year since Victoria's accident and I have to say she is doing amazingly well. She's started her own business now as a Beauty Therapist and it's as if we have our daughter back. It's ME that has the problem! I just can't get the events of last February out of my head. I spend every waking moment reliving what happened and I spend so much time in tears that it starting to get me down. Has anyone any advice on how to deal with this? Jo xx

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  • Hi, I am a newbie to this discussion/ forum but I am an "oldie" with regard to my son's brain injury. I have been trying for 11 years to get the proper treatment for him, in particular for the last year, after he almost died from an attack in which he was stabbed 34 times and left for dead. I have finally won my case and thankfully he is now in a residential place where he might finally begin to get back some of the life he lost 20 years ago, after a traffic accident at age 23. I won the huge fight against the NHS systems that seem to make sure the lay person (never mind a head injured person) could spend their life trying to reach and appeal to the right person. That happened on 21st December last year. But it has left me and his two brothers shell shocked. If you think about it, this is normal. Whilst you are grateful that things are finally looking up, the pain, fear and desperation of the years before which maybe you had to put to one side whilst you focused on the head injured person, is still un dealt with. I personally felt exhausted and sad, sad, sad. How to handle it? Myself I use meditation ( a practice I have used for years and so find it useful to keep "in the moment") and I looked for a way I could share my experience with those still going through it. I am not free of the aftermath myself, but I get some comfort from sharing my own feelings with people like you and writing a blog so that people can ask me about anything they find in my story that they can connect with. Our experiences are sad. Accept the sadness, talk about it and when you are ready, it will actually help you and others. You are in my thoughts.

  • Thank you so very much for your kind words. They reali are very helpful xxx

  • Hi Jo,

    Thank you for your post.

    It sounds like you may be experiencing post-trauma symptoms, which are completely normal but after nearly a year may need some professional help to overcome.

    The best first step is to speak to your doctor and explain exactly how you are feeling. There should be some good support available from the NHS, and you can read more about this and treatment options at nhs.uk/conditions/post-trau...

    This page includes some good links on the right-hand side too.

    I am sure other members on here will share their personal experiences and ways they overcame this, and if you like you can contact our helpline on 0808 800 2244 or helpline@headway.org.uk to discuss things in confidence.

    Best wishes,

    Headway.

  • I have been going to the doctors for over seven years now and have told the doctors everything I can in the limited time you have in the surgery, but nothing has been said to me about ptsd. I am aware of it I think I have it for sure . but when doctors say I don't know what to suggest for you and the neurologist said you will have to sort yourself out and find what suits you, what do you do its like being in space nobody can hear you scream, I said at a recent meeting at headway maybe I should take up acting lessons, then start acting like a lunatic kick a few chairs and tables over then somebody might take us and me more serious, meanwhile every time I get pains and other sensations which is now almost continues I am reminded of that day and night I got vaccination damage, john.

  • Hi John,

    Thank you for your reply. We certainly wouldn't be able to diagnose PTSD on here, but if you are experiencing effects that fit the condition then it would be worth mentioning it to your doctor.

    Perhaps a neuropsychologist would be a suitable referral to examine the changes in behaviour you are experiencing, and possibly a psychiatrist and/or medication could help if the symptoms do fit the bill for PTSD?

    Do get in touch with our helpline if you would like to discuss this before you see your doctor again, they may be able to help you with making another approach for support.

    Best wishes,

    Headway.

  • I have flashbacks all the time from my trauma on oct 20th 2006 I am reminded every day what happened that night so I really don't know what to say, maybe we are all the same and it will never go away I wish I had an answer, take care , john.

  • Hello Jo,

    I went through exactly the same stage you are in after our son's TBI. I coped well at first (or seemed to!!) but after 9 months I was still getting flashbacks to the accident, which happened right outside our house. You say you are "reliving" what happened which is a very good description of what I experienced too, much stronger than just "remembering" it was like I was back at the time of the accident going over each detail again and again in my mind.

    I later discovered these are typical symptoms of post traumatic stress. This was the sort of mumojumbo I would have scoffed at until I experienced it for myself - I now know it is a real illness. The reply from Headway give you a good starting point so do look through those links and then talk to your GP. Some doctors are better informed than others but you may have one who understands and can help.

    I found my own solution was talking in detail about what I was feeling with my wife - I had not told her before as I felt she had enough to cope with without me adding to it. However I wish now that we had talked before, it was helpful for us both. Another thing that I found helpful (strange though it might seem) was watching Helicopter Heros, it seems to desensitise me in some way.

    I hope this is of some help - the main thing is not to keep this to yourself but get it out where it can be dealt with.

    God Bless

  • Hi Davesdad. Thanks for your reply. A lot of what you say is so much the same as I am feeling right now. I must admit that when I have spoken to friends about it (which isn't very often) I have felt better for a day or so. I will mention it to my GP next time I see him and see what he suggests. Dianaplummer suggested meditation but I don't know how to get into that. I feel guilty for feeling like this as its not me who has had to struggle with the tbi especially when Victoria is doing so well xx

  • Hello Jo,

    Having read through your other posts I do see that our experiences have a lot in common. Like Victoria, David was in an induced coma for three weeks and then gradually made a remarkable recovery (though his education was disrupted, he is now reading history at a respected university!) That feeling of guilt is all to familiar too and the sense that we have been "lucky" when we hear of others who have not recovered so well.

    The truth is that our children were seriously injured and we were psychologically injured as well.

    David was 16 (6 years ago now!) and was taken to the wonderful ICU at Sheffield Children's Hospital. The staff there made clear that his mum and I were their patients just as much as he was, I think that being told that so early on helped me recognise the problems I had later.

    You said "its not me who has had to struggle with the tbi" but we both know that you have had to struggle with the results of the tbi because you have shared Victoria's journey of recovery and will continue to do so. No need to feel guilty admitting that has had an effect on your mental health too, it would be surprising if it had not!

    I don't know anything about meditation either but that did remind me of something someone told me that was helpful. When you start to think about the events surrounding the accident try to put the images into black and white, not clear and sharp but muddy and grey like on a very old TV. Then think of the TV as being behind you, not just at the back of your mind but a long way behind you, in the distance so that the picture is tiny and far away and the sound is muffled and inaudible.

    When you think of the good stuff, Victoria's successes, family holidays, your hopes for the future that sort of thing do the opposite - make those thoughts technicolor, bright and sharp on a huge cinema screen just in front of you with surround sound and 3D if you can manage that :-)

    Doing that helped me separate one sort of thought from the other but please don't rely just on what I have said and don't wait till you happen to see your GP - admitting to a problem is a big breakthrough so make the most of it a make an appointment as soon as you possibly can!

    God Bless

  • Davesdad. Thank you so very much for taking the time to chat with me. You must be so very proud of what David has achieved. I am very proud of Victoria. I must admit even talking to you today through this forum I feel better. It's harder for me I think because we live out in the sticks of Aberdeenshire and all my family, who i have always been very close to, live 350 miles away near Huddersfield. I know they are only a phone call away but nothing beats getting a hug from your mum and dad does it. I will try your suggestion of 'black and white tv' and see how I get on. Ile try anything to be honest. Thanks again and God bless you and your family. Jo xx

  • Hi Jo, I am really glad to have helped even a little. I can't advise people who have had a tbi because I have not had that experience. The reason that I joined this group is because I have been where you are now and can speak first hand about issues from a parent's point of view.

    You have put in a huge amount of time and energy (physical and mental) looking after Victoria over the last year and it is very understandable that it has taken its toll. You might need to balance her needs with your own for a while so that you can get yourself fit again. There was a point with David (after a couple of years) when i had force myself to try as best I could to minimise the amount I was worrying about him. I could not really stop but I did make a real effort, not to give up caring (impossible!) but to stop worrying.

    David's mum has just come in from work and has reminded me that she, like you felt things were getting on top of her after about a year. The solution that she came up with was to write down all she could remember about the accident and its aftermath, on to pieces of paper. The incidents were not in order or organised into any sort of story that would make sense but the objective was just to get the thoughts out of her mind and on to paper. She then put them in an envelope and put that away somewhere (goodness knows where!) She did not want to forget what had happened but she did not want to have to hold all this stuff in her head either. She thought that she might want to go over them again at some point but has never done so - so far anyway. It was like she felt the need to store the memories somewhere and once she knew they were safe on paper she did not need to hold on to them inside her mind. Just to note that this was not an instant fix - my TV idea did not work immediately either - but these were the turning point for us and things got better from then on. We are both agreed that we can now think about the accident as something that happened in the past and not get distressed.

    David has done remarkably well but I won't kid you that it has been easy, there have been lots of downs as well as wonderful ups along the way. Just keep doing your best and (hard as it seems to believe now) life will settle down in time. We can be grateful our children are still with us to worry about :-)

    I don't monitor this board closely but if something comes up that you would like my thoughts on do send me a message by clicking the blue "davesdad" at the top of this post and use the "send a message" button to the right of my profile page.

    Blessing to your family too.

  • Hi Davesdad, just read your advise to JO-JO9 and I too will take this on board. I have been advised by professionals that I have PTSD, even though was my daughter that was knocked down by a bus several months ago I witnessed the accident and was too far away to have done anything to stop it - She has made a fantastic recovery and it has been confirmed today that her hearing has also returned. She only gets the odd headache which is understandable. My Doctor gave me a leaflet for Newcastle Talking Therapies - they make an appointment to ring me at home to talk about coping stratagies . I just thought to share this as im sure Newcastle will not be the only area to have this system and would advise anyone going through this to contact their Doctor and enquire what counciling services are available in their area.

  • Hello Ronnie666, thanks for the response. I am grateful that we did not see David's accident that must have been just awful for you, being there so soon afterwards was bad enough for me! So pleased to hear of another great recovery, they do happen even if it often takes a very long time.

    Your message backs up the one that I wanted to get across to Jo that PTSD is a genuine condition that can and should be attended to. I hope you found the the suggestions on coping that you were given helpful. It is good to read in a later post that Jo is going to talk to her GP, I passed on how my wife and I had coped because that was what Jo's question asked for, but getting professional help, as you did, is really the way to go.

    God Bless

  • Hi Ronnie666. So sorry to hear about your daughter but thrilled to hear she has made a great recovery. It is very hard to let go of the memories of what has happened. Victoria's accident was about 6 miles away from home and while I am moaning about me, it was her brother who actually came accross the police corden. He knew she hadn't come home and asked the policeman was it a silver Peugeot and by the look on the policeman's face he knew. The police then took him to the hospital that she had been taken to and they let him see her before she was airlifted to Aberdeen Infirmary. He won't talk about it at all but I feel better for talking to people. Strange how we are all so different and how we cope differently. I'm waffling on now but my point was that I have to drive past the accident site every day and I have been trying Davesdad's tv theory. This morning I was home and having a cuppa before I realised I had driven past and not even thought about it!!! So am going to continue trying to do this. All the very best to you and your family and hope you can draw some peace from this. Jo xx

  • Hi Jo, first of all, it's wonderful to hear how well Victoria is doing. Thank heavens! You must be very proud of her.

    And then, I was going to write lots, but everyone here has said what I was going to say. (This forum is a well of experienced and compassionate fellow-travellers.) So I'll just add that I too think it sounds you have a classic (and not surprising) case of post-traumatic stress. In my own experience, it does help to talk it over with friends and so on, but you really do need to ask for professional help from a psychologist to guide you through to the other side. Your daughter is not the only one to have suffered a trauma: now it's time to look after yourself. I wish you all the very best and hope that you can find someone sympathetic to help you with this.

  • Hi Aelfwyn. Thank you for your lovely kind words. Yes I suppose when I think about it both me and Victoria's dad have lived the trauma too. It's just that he has coped with it all better than me although I have and am the one who has to drive her everywhere and take her to work and pick her up as she won't drive yet. She has been told she can drive but is just too frightened. So it all falls on me to be the taxi again. To be honest tho I think it would scare me to death if she did say she was going to drive somewhere! I will def make an appointment with the doctor and see what he says about it. Thanks again and lovely to hear from you again. Jo xx

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