Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of trauma.
This is something that, until recently, I knew nothing about, but have experienced for years. Emotional flashbacks. Like a flashback but you don't always know you're experiencing one. These can be really difficult to navigate and to pinpoint because they work purely on emotion.
Emotional flashbacks happen if you have experienced trauma. These specific flashbacks happen as a result of going through a situation, event or circumstance that pulls your mind back to a similar time. You feel those exact emotions and have the same thoughts you would have had at the time of trauma.
For so long, I didn't know emotional flashbacks were a thing. I thought that it was just me being anxious. But knowing there was a name and an explanation was such a relief. An example of my having an emotional flashback and later recognising it as such was during a rehearsal one evening.
Outside the rehearsal building was a construction site and I could smell a very strong aroma of paint fumes that reminded me of the hospital. In that moment, I immediately felt overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. I was outside for probably seconds, but it felt like forever. I didn’t know what was happening or why I was so suddenly unable to function. No thoughts came to my mind to pinpoint the cause, I just became paralysed by fear. It wasn’t until I discussed this with my trauma therapist that I realised this was an emotional flashback.
These kinds of flashbacks can just happen, and it's hard sometimes even now to know what may set them off, but I'm pleased in being able to identify these flashbacks and be able to react quicker in lessening their impact on me.
There are different types of emotional flashbacks that can manifest in different ways. I could talk about this for ages, but I think it’s important to know what it is and know you’re not alone. If you feel this is something you may be struggling with, it’s best to seek out a professional to help you figure out ways to work through these flashbacks.
If you have experienced emotional flashbacks, please know you’re not alone. It’s a horrible feeling and can definitely feel terrifying, but remember that this too will pass.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to ‘find help’ - it’s not weak to speak!