Wednesday 23 March 2016

Big flashbacks at teatime....

It's curious how the brain gets 'stuck' in the 'fight or flight'/Red Alert response, isn't it? Take yesterday teatime for example (or evening meal, to non-Yorkshire people out there!) Paul and Ben were eating fish in breadcrumbs, chips and mushy peas. Ben commented on the fact that Sainsbury's mushy peas weren't a patch on Batchelor's mushy peas. Then there was a silence. And the 'stuck' part of my brain suddenly went into FREEZE. I mean F.R.E.E.Z.E...

Why? Because in the 'bad old days' when Ben's anorexia was raging, he'd make a comment on something about the food not being right (too hot, too cold, too tasteless, too fatty, too little, too much, too dry, too salty, too... you name it) and then there'd be silence.

AND THEN ALL HELL WOULD BREAK LOOSE as Ben would crash his knife and fork down on the plate, maybe throw food around, definitely storm out of the dining room shrieking like a wounded animal, yelling, bashing his head against the hall wall, charging up and down stairs...

And meanwhile I'd be sitting at the dining table in floods of tears, my pulse thumping in my ears, feeling hot and cold, dreading what would come next.

And that's how my brain reacted last night. Just because of an innocent comment about mushy peas and a period of silence... Before Ben carried on eating as normal.

Meanwhile inside my head I was busy doing every CBT and mindfulness technique known to man to bring my fear back to normal levels.

So, no, the PTSD hasn't gone, despite all that therapy.

But at least I'm able to recognise it when it happens and know why it happens, and observe how my body responds.

And to continue with the helpful self-help books.


  1. I love your honesty and the way you work through situations, learn about them and endeavour to understand them in order to move forward. It is true, the flashbacks take a long time to go away completely, even this far along my recovery path, I get dreadful flashbacks to certain terrifying episodes of my AN...but I too recognize, know why and can then better contend with the feelings and responses. Hugs my friend xo

    1. Yes, believe it or not it's only recently that it struck me - that it's not just parents and carers who can develop PTSD, etc as a result of helping their loved one through an ED, PTSD can also occur in the individual themselves. After all, they've been through hell too! I was explaining to my son that some of his current emotions sound very PTSD-esque and it's not at all surprising, all things considered. However it is really helpful to know that all of this is NORMAL - a result of normal changes in the brain coming as a result of going through trauma. i.e. not, never, ever our fault and never, ever anything to feel guilty about - and just as physical as a broken bone or virus.

  2. Yes, it is good to know that it is a completely normal response from an extremely over-stressed, over-stimulated, worn down part of us, ie our brain! It IS just as physical as other illnesses/body parts but we don't see it like that. it is calming to know that it is an explainable reaction.