Flashbacks or intrusive memories are very common after an accident or traumatic event. They are unwanted, distressing memories that appear at the most inopportune moments, unexpectedly without warning. When this happens, an individual can feel overwhelmed and will typically shut down. There are many strategies to help with intrusive memories. Here are 3 steps to get you started:
Step One: The first step in dealing with intrusive memories is to know your triggers. A trigger may be a sight, sound or a smell. It typically is something that is a reminder of the past event.
Step Two: It is important to be aware of your first response when you are triggered. Your first response may involve more than one sense. For example, vision and hearing may start to change. Each individual is unique. Ask your family and friends for help in identifying your responses.
Step Three: You will need to ground yourself to stay in the present. Grounding techniques include paying attention to things that you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste in the current setting. For example if you are triggered you can focus on 5 things you can hear, 4 things you can see, 3 things you can smell and so on. Staying in the present is essential to coping with intrusive memories.
If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, intrusive memories or flashbacks please reach out for help. Talk to your doctor or your rehab professional. Your vehicle or workplace safety insurance board often provides coverage for counselling.
There are so many benefits to feeling well physically and mentally. Your family and friends want and need you to recover. Life after an accident may be different, but doesn’t have to be terrible. The question really is what do you have to lose and what can you gain?