These things can be scary. In addition to the fact that they seem to come out of nowhere, sometimes with very little rhyme or reason, they also seem to take advantage of every sense modality in our brains in order to recreate those old experiences as vividly as possible. It’s not just that you’re “thinking about” or “remembering” something from the past; it’s like you’ve been thrown into a 3D IMAX theater with THX surround sound, and they’re pumping in the proper scents and odors through the ventilation system, and they’ve also hijacked every nerve in your body so you actually feel the experience in your muscles and on your skin. Oh, and you feel like you’re fucking strapped into your seat. There’s that.It’s not always exactly like that, of course. Just like any symptom, there’s a spectrum of intensity to flashbacks. But flashbacks have an added dimension that make them extra special and fun: there are times we may not even know we’re experiencing a flashback until, you know, we’re curled up in a little ball, either emotionally or physically. A flashback is often not like a sneeze, where it immediately, obviously interrupts what you’re doing. It can creep up on you, begin in your gut, or in your visual cortex, or in your limbic system. By the time we realize we’re disconnected from the present (a symptom we psychology types call “dissociation,” because we’ve temporarily lost our clear connection or association to the people, things, and context around us), we’re sometimes so far down the rabbit hole that we don’t immediately remember how to think our way out.And good luck explaining all of the above to someone who’s never had flashbacks, of course. “It’s just a memory! It’s in the past! Why are you so upset about it?” Yeah. Kiss my ass.
He thinks a lot like I do, but explains so much better than I ever could!