How can I stop bad memories and enjoy my day?

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    Kay Elle

    HI there, I’m a 26 year old woman and I am having a problem with randomly getting sucked into memories of being in pain/fear of death/shame that I don’t even know I have until they pop up, in what looks like a perfectly normal day to my family and friends. I was really sick with an autoimmune disorder and it got to the point where I wish I could just forget how physically, mentally, and spiritually low I was.

    When I accidentally remember, I feel stuck, and I don’t want to talk it out (like my mom would love!) because I think nobody wants to hear about that negativity, why would they? Also, I don’t have the words for it, and I just feel really stupid for being so overdramatic. So, in random places and situations, grocery store, driving, watching tv, I start seeing and feeling what happened to me before and I can’t stop it. At the same time, I’m telling myself I should just suck it up and be grateful, that others have gone through way worse and I’m fine now. Then I tend to either go for some escape (sometimes I actually run away from a place, which is embarrassing and also I have to admit kind of funny), or lately I’ve been acting out with a lot of anger. I always regret both.

    Does anyone have some practical things I could do to stop these things when they come up? Does anyone have anything that’s worked for them or someone they know?



    Hi Kay Elle,
    It sounds very hard emotionally to be caught off guard and be caught up with such emotions.

    The “beating up yourself” approach does not work for me. I have learned that when I get swept up in negative emotions is to pause, be mindful of what I am feeling in the moment, notice where it shows up in my body physically (e.g. a tightness in my heart), and breath into it. That gets me in the present moment and it passes.

    I do not attempt to deny it. I do not attempt to tough it out. I do not beat myself up about having those emotions or not being able to get through them quickly. I just accept that I am having this experience and not judge it.

    You may want a “time out” from where you are at physically to find a place to fully experience your emotions like taking a walk out somewhere to get away from the people around you.

    I hope that helps.


    Really good advice Mark. I agree beating oneself up doesn’t work, because it labels you and your feelings as bad, but acknowledging and feeling your feelings does work.

    I would also like to add, that I have dealt with anger and rage for the things that happened in my past. Anger/rage is difficult to deal with for me, for fear of losing control and doing something I would regret later. What I have done to help with my anger, is accept it, feel it (but don’t dwell in it) and unpack it through journal/writing about it and therapy. What I have found out for myself is that my anger/rage was really covering up the sadness and powerlessness I felt about certain experiences and people from my past and present. I didn’t have a choice about what I experienced, but I do now have a choice in how I feel about myself and how I react to people in my life right now. My journey has been about finding my own power and voice, and learning to use it wisely as to cause no harm to others. It is definitely a process, sometimes daily.

    What I have also found helpful is telling myself if I am getting caught up in the rehashing of old memories or new offenses, which stir up the anger, sadness, powerlessness, “Today, I choose peace.” Yesterday was particularly bad, and thoughts kept barraging my brain, “feel that, think that, oh…” and for each thought that tried to drag me farther into my feeling, I said out loud, “Today, I choose peace.” I did this for an hour it seemed, but before I knew it it was 10 hours later and I had had a very peaceful, wonderful day with my husband, daughter and her friend.

    I wish you peace, my friend

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 4 months ago by Jenn-ay.

    Hello, I just wanted to say that I just joined this forum just to reply to your post. I also suffered from an autoimmune disorder when I was a child and through my teens (and still do now, but it’s a different problem…). It was terrible to say the least. I spent a lot of time in the hospital, had a lot of painful treatments, unfeeling doctors, the death of my roommate and the crowning event was a near-death experience. I lost my friends and nothing was ever the same. The depression I had before got worse. I lost all faith in God (what God puts kids in the pediatric oncology ward?). I became fearful that of life, death and the future. I realized later that my experiences left me with post traumatic stress disorder or PSTD in addition to depression. It’s more than something that happens to veterans and people in war zones. Sometimes things like serious illness can be a cause.

    Right after the experience it was the worst. I would get panic attacks whenever I got around anything that reminded me of the hospital (sights, sounds and even smells!) And like you, I might run away or freak out. And sometimes memories would flood back randomly. But I promise it will get better. For me it was a sort of accidental healing- I was a kid/teen and had to ‘behave’ around doctors so that meant just going to get blood tests and check ups without complaining. Plus my parents had staid with me while I was sick, so I had to be strong for them. There was also a good thing that came out of my hospital stay-an extreme appreciation of life. I grew up quickly after the experience, but the feeling also led me to appreciate that feeling of life so when I got scared or bad feelings came back, I tapped into those good feelings and told myself not to be scared. I was not sick and I had the power to be brave.

    Your feelings are legitimate and totally okay to have. I know from years of experience that therapy sucks sometimes (especially when you have PTSD and talking through experiences is like living through them again) but it might help to talk through it or try a different type of therapy. I ended up with hypnotherapy to deal with my depression and PTSD. (But please seek help if you feel you can’t control your flashbacks-it’s hard to tackle on your own as they are stuck in your unconscious.) I also made art. And I use the term liberally- sometimes i made beautiful collages and sketches other times it was scribbling and angry jabs, but the fact was that I was letting out emotions and talking, even if it was a conversation between myself and my paper.

    And anger, lots of that (you took my childhood, my best years, my fun, my body betrayed me, etc.) I wrote. I journaled and wrote fiction. And when there was too much energy I ran until I couldn’t run any more and sometimes needed to be rescued. And sometimes I screamed. And I gave myself license to emote in my room alone. No judgement, just a lot of crying and emotional diarrhea.

    I was also very successful teaching myself self-relaxation techniques like deep breathing and visualization of a safe place. To this day I am scared of hospitals, but in November I even weathered a trip to the ER (my current problem is fibromyalgia) with a bad flare, by deep breathing my way through the smells and tactile feelings and sights. The other thing I do is to acknowledge the feeling. My dialogue goes like this- “you’re in a situation that reminds you of your past and it is making you feel scared/panicked/etc. Hello feelings. You’re here and that’s okay. I see you. Now I need to move on and go on with my day.” It took awhile to get used to accepting the feelings for what they were, just irrational feelings mostly based on fear, and to realize why I was having them. I had been to hell and back, lost faith, friends and my childhood- it’s amazing these silly feelings were all that I was experiencing after all that. Remember what you have been through, what you’ve SURVIVED and take that strength with you on your path to healing.

    I promise that things will get better. Acknowledge your feelings and accept what you have been through and forgive yourself for falling into a low point. It happens. I also promise that you can use your experience to learn and grow and become empowered. My story is still going- I have finally found faith in a way that works for me and my PTSD is in control. I accepted my fears, but let them go. And now I hope my story can help you.

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 4 months ago by Lisa.
    Kay Elle

    Wow you guys, thank you from the bottom of my heart 🙂 Knowing that there’re such encouraging and compassionate people in the world who would help out a total stranger makes me feel better just in general! I want to try your advice, just feeling, not judging, I really liked “I choose peace today,” and to hear from someone who has actually experienced this and can speak about it so strongly and kindly is just a huge weight off my own shoulders.

    Thank you all, very sincerely,
    Kay Elle

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