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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate. Sorry to bother you again but I am still having issues

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Kate. Sorry to bother you again but I am still having issues with flashbacks following going to the dentist a few weeks ago.
Is it really possible to wipe away painful images from my mind because right now I feel like giving up because I can't cope with this.
At the weekend we had a thunderstorm and this triggered me all over again. This relates to when I was about 11 or 12. I had been banished to the garage by mum as a punishment. While I was out there we had a storm during which my brother came into the garage. He tied me to a workbench and force me to have anal sex. I cannot get this memory out of my head and it's always made worse when there is a storm.
There are things like the dentist which I know is going to happen and when, but I never know when a storm is going to happen!
Kate, I am sorry to dump this on you but my therapist isn't back until next week.
I just need to know that there is a way out of this please?
How do I move forwards?
Sorry :(
Hi Sue! I am glad to hear from you.

I am so sorry that happened to you. You are very brave to face this and deal with it.

It can feel overwhelming to have images and flashbacks that you feel you cannot control. It can make you feel as you did during the trauma, especially when they are triggered by something you have no power over like thunderstorms. The key to dealing with the flashbacks and the images in your mind is to learn techniques that help you cope.

The first step is to accept. It may sound hard but if you break it down you'll find it easier. When the image comes into your mind, try not to fight it. Instead, let yourself accept that it is there. The more you fight it, the harder it is to keep out. If you find it hard to do, give yourself a short time in which you focus on telling yourself that it is ok. Eventually you will be able to calm yourself by just saying "accept".

The second step is to recognize the feelings you have around the image in your mind. It can help to write them down but it's ok if you don't. What are the feelings associated with the image? And let yourself feel them. You are safe now and no one can hurt you.

The third is to give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions you have about the image. Anger, fear, sadness, etc. Realize that these feelings are normal and they belong to the trauma.

When you hear a thunderstorm, it can be hard to not associate it with the trauma. By using some ways to distract yourself, it can help. Try to engage your senses. Use smell, taste and touch to help you. Try using things that make you feel good and help you associate the storm with something else. Turn up music very loudly, make a special dish that you love, visit a friend.

What you are doing, Sue, is the best thing you can do. You are working hard to cope with a very horrible and traumatic childhood. It takes time but you will work it through.

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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