The following are some of your responses to Mary Ellen Copeland’s article. “The Wellness Toolbox and Flashbacks
Many thanks to all of you who have shared your experiences so that others can learn from them. Mary Ellen Copeland
One of the statements I use to assist people face their traumas is to suggest to them that they are survivors. In the here and now, they have used coping mechanisms, which are miraculous. Sometimes, though, these coping mechanisms don’t work anymore. It’s time to learn new ways in their efforts to face and conquer their situations. K.W.
First, thank you for bringing this important topic to the forefront.
I would like to share a few tools that I use to lessen the effects of my flashbacks.
I respond best to sensory-based grounding, such as firmly planting my feet on the floor and placing my hands on my knees (often rubbing my knees) and focusing on those sensations during the flashback.
Another sensory tool that I use is to notice aloud and/or on paper as many things as I can from my surroundings for each of my five senses. I also use grounding self-talk, reminding myself of the day and time. These tools often help to ground myself in the present.
Finally, to minimize the anxiety that often comes with a flashback, it often helps me to simply acknowledge that I am having a flashback and to use self-talk, such as, “I am having a flashback. This has happened before and I know that I will get through it. I am going to use (insert tool) to help me to cope until it passes, as I know that it will.”
I truly hope that this information is helpful.
Most sincerely and with gratitude for all that you do,
I’m so glad you’re working on helping people with PTSD through WRAP. My own WRAP has been very helpful with my PTSD. I do have some suggestions of things that have helped me:
– A good therapist. With PTSD, especially PTSD that stems from chronic trauma at the hands of someone you ought to be able to trust, the issue of trust can be huge. So if you’ve given the therapist a real go and are still uncomfortable, find someone you can trust, someone who works with trauma survivors and understands the unique challenges that presents. My T is doing EMDR with me, and it’s been amazing.
– Mindless AND mindful activities. When I’m really triggered, I can start to slip into a numb sort of state where I can’t even feel the pain of what’s happening. And that can be a good thing in the short term, a coping skill my brain developed to help me get through the hard stuff. I try not to delve into it until I’ve seen my therapist or have a close and safe friend to process it with, so I do things like read or watch TV or play games–mindless sorts of things.
But I also need to listen to myself and know when it’s time to journal about it or talk about it or do some positive affirmations–mindful sorts of things.
– Chasing away black-and-white thinking. I have to remind myself 1) that I’m not a failure just because the dishes didn’t get done tonight, and 2) my friend isn’t a bad person just because she was too busy to talk tonight. People aren’t simple enough to just be either good or bad. I know there are so, so, so many others, but those are definitely my top three tips. Have a great day! TK
Sometimes it is important to focus on the present.
“That was then; this is now.” [ Usually to be used near the end of a conversation or interview].
“I cannot imagine what that feels like.”
“Is there anything, today, that might have set this off?” (i.e. establish his triggers–some can be avoided) MB
There are many. A few are weighted blankets (we started a whole program for this here), massage on back with weighted ball, some specific scents, sound machines, some specific movement strategies, rocking on rocker or glider rocker, joint compressions, crawl through fabric tunnel. These vary by age appropriateness, and we assess for each person’s preferences. We also do sensory processing evaluations, more in depth, with some people. JD
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.