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Flashbacks (Part 7)

Where did this PTSD come from? And why was it in my life? My parents had committed their lives to each other and to full time ministry, this was a safe environment, right? I had always thought so.

My life, in a nutshell, had been a life full of adventure and excitement. I had lived in 6 countries by the time I was 10 years old. During this time I went to 5 different schools, and had learned, quite quickly, to adapt or not be accepted. Also in this 10 year period, there had been a revolution in one of the countries that I lived in. Our life there was surrounded by violence and fear, gunshots at night…which the dorm parents tried to drown out by playing classical music as loudly as they dared.

“Do you get flashbacks,” asked the counselor, “and what do you see when you get them?”

I saw tanks, parades with guns waving in the air, escaping men that were chasing us with guns going off, military checkpoints, dead bodies with slogans written across their chest, and with this, extreme poverty and disease. Never feeling safe.

Other pictures involved me standing, as a little girl, and watching my parents drive away. I was left at boarding school once again. I was alone, left to fend for myself.

These were some of the flashbacks that came over and over again…and I suppressed them to the best of my ability.

“What is your earliest happy memory? Some experience or feeling that you remember feeling joy in?” Another question posed to me, I guess to see if I could remember the good times.

This was a hard question to answer. I finally came up with one…and it was from when I was 10 years old. That’s a lot of time gone by where I didn’t seem to remember any joy.

“We need to start digging down deeper, because there are memories in there that are also happy ones.” I was hoping that my counselor wasn’t getting frustrated with me….I was trying to come up with some good stuff. After all, I had spent most of my adult life telling myself that my life was fantastic. I was blessed to have seen and experienced so much, right?

One of the homework assignments was to read about Traumatic Stress Disorder. It seems that many of the manifestations were intruding into my life…

flashbacks
sleep disturbance
bad temper and lack of concentration
hyper-alertness and exaggerated concern for safety
exaggerated startle response and panic attacks
avoidance behavior
emotional numbness
alienation, disconnection and difficulty with intimacy
depression
guilt

wow….the list seemed to describe me to a T…

Time to re-program the brain. It’s a good thing that my counselor knew what she was doing with me. Learning to identify feelings, and addressing patterns of thinking was what we were doing in our weekly therapy sessions.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the name of the work we were doing…

to be cont’d