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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate; Hi there. I know it has been a bit since I last wrote

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Hi there. I know it has been a bit since I last wrote but I have been struggling quite a bit with my OCD and PTSD.

Lately I have been having more and more what my therapist calls flashbacks of the assault. She says this means it is getting closer and closer to the surface. I am terrified of this. I do not want to think about more. And it seems to happen out of the blue which scares me. I just seem to space out and think of an awful details that I totally did not remember before. It feels like it is taking over my life sometimes.

Any thoughts on this. I wish at the very least I was more mindful of when they were coming. Maybe I could do something to prevent it and keep myself in the present moment. But this seems almost impossible to me.


Hi Kathy,


I understand your fear. Remembering what happened to you feels as if you are reliving parts of your trauma. But your therapist is right, this is a good sign. It means you feel safe enough now to allow the memories to come back through flashbacks.


It is important to remember that these memories are just echoes of your assault. You are never going to go through the assault again. You already survived it, and what you feel is just the thoughts and feelings from the assault. They cannot hurt you. The assault did but you lived through that and are a survivor. You are safe now.


You are no longer stuck in the past. You are now moving forward. This is probably why you feel fear and apprehension. But this is a very good thing. Anticipation of the next feeling or flashback is frightening. But you can do some things to help yourself.


Write down comforting thoughts. Things like "I am ok" "People care about me" "I have done this before and have been fine"


List people you can call when you experience a flashback. Support can make a big difference.


Think of things you can do in response when you feel bad. A bubble bath, a drive around the block, cup of tea, whatever makes you feel better.


Keep a diary. Write out your feelings, progress and things that help you. This can serve to not only see how far you have come, but as a distraction when you feel bad.


Whatever you do to help yourself, don't try to prevent your flashbacks from coming. Accepting the flashbacks can help them go smoother and help your treatment progress. I know this is hard. But you are well on your way to feeling better. You are strong and resilient. These flashbacks feel bad but you are working through them. And to have flashbacks is very common with PTSD. It is part of recovery. So what you are experiencing is very normal.



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Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Thanks Kate. You provided me with some very good suggestions on how I can help myself deal with these flashbacks.


I know I am not going through the assault again but it certainly feels like it at the time. Plus, they do not always happen at a good time. But I do not think I have control over this.





You're welcome. I am glad to help.


I understand. It is disturbing to feel like you are going through the assault again. But it is very normal. Your mind is trying to find a way to incorporate the memories of the assault. After the assault, your mind repressed them because they were too traumatic to take in. To relive them again, even just through your memory, would have been too upsetting. But now that you are feeling safe, your mind is allowing the memories to surface. If you kept them repressed, you would just continue to have the symptoms you are having now, and the strain of trying not to remember would be high.


That is why your flashbacks are good. It is a sign your mind is trying to work the memories in and bring you back to normal emotional wellbeing. You are a healthy person who is trying to cope with a horrible event. You will not feel this way forever because your mind will not let you. Allowing your mind to work to accept the assault is not easy, but it is very healthy. Keep relying on all the support around you, leaning in as much as you need to. If a flashback happens at a bad time, just excuse yourself quickly (I don't feel well is always a good and understandable excuse) and find a private place until it passes. Call a support person if you can. Find ways to express how you feel and reach out as often as you can. Take extra care of yourself. Reading about PTSD and how normal your reaction is will also help (let me know if you need some recommendations) This is a difficult time. But you are safe and cared for. Soon this will pass and you will feel better.



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