3 things you can do to help manage flashbacks
1. Talk about what happened when you feel ready
Only when you feel ready, begin to tell your story to someone you trust. Make sure that person can give you the time you need to go at your own pace, and that they are a good listener. It is normal to experience mild to moderate levels of distress at the beginning of this process, especially if the burn was recent. If you feel too overwhelmed to talk about your experiences, this may suggest that you would benefit from support from a professional. Click here for information on different sources of support.
You might want to forget about what you have been through but talking about it can be important and helpful. Many people avoid talking about their experiences because they fear that their distress might take over or that they will make the other person feel overwhelmed. Talking about what happened can help you to make sense of the experience, seeing it clearly from a different angle. Other people’s perspectives can also be helpful. It can help the event to become less distressing for you. At the start you may feel anxious, but the more you tell your story, the more you process it, and the less distressing it becomes.
You can start to tell your story gradually by outlining what happened. As this becomes easier, you can add more detail. Try to talk through things in the order that they happened. You might talk about what was happening a few hours before the injury, the few minutes before, during the event, and afterwards. Finally, tell your story with as much detail as you can, including what you were thinking and feeling at the time and always remember to include an end point of the story. That might be where things are at now, the first time you felt safe, or when you felt that the worst bit was over.
If you choose to talk to someone, choose someone you trust and who you feel can cope with your story. Sometimes stories feel so distressing that it might be easier to tell them to a professional, such as a psychologist, rather than to a friend or family member.
2. Keep active
Try to remain involved in activities that you find enjoyable. It can help if they are relaxing or provide you with an opportunity to concentrate on something else.
Click here to find out about different relaxation techniques.
It is important to keep a balance. Being too active (“keeping busy”) can be a way of avoiding what happened, not thinking about it at all and, therefore, not coming to terms with it.
Click here to read about managing avoidance.
3. Try to work out what triggers your flashbacks
Flashbacks can be triggered by lots of different things, such as a sound, a smell, a place, or seeing something on TV. It is different for everyone.
You might find it helpful to keep a diary of when flashbacks happen, what was happening at the time, and how it affected you. If you have a better understanding of them, they may be easier to manage.