Remembering Repressed Memories: A Mental Health Nightmare

remembering repressed memories a mental health nightmare Amy Dodd Pilkington

The funny thing about repressed memories is you have no control over when they decide to reveal themselves. The simplest thing can cause them to flood back and overwhelm you with emotion.

I recently discussed abuse and repressed memories. Over the last two days, I have been smacked pretty hard by memories I do not want flooding back. I’m tired of it. It is taking a toll on my mental health, and I am tired of it.

Repressed memories I haven’t processed

I thought I had made peace with everything from my past, but I was wrong. I have indeed made peace with the biggest traumatic events, but there are many things I had repressed and have not processed. They were hidden in the deep, dark recesses of my brain. No more. Those things have moved to the forefront and now weigh heavily on my mind.

Make no mistake. When I say I haven’t made peace with something from the past, this should not be interpreted as I am hanging on to the past. Don’t dare think I use my past as an excuse for bad behavior. That is absolutely not the case. I take full responsibility for my actions as I am the only person responsible for my choices and actions.

Trying to make peace with repressed memories

Using past trauma as an excuse for bad behavior only hurts you. It keeps you from growing and living. It holds you back and holds you down. Mourn. Grieve. Move through all the stages of grief and then make the choice to live a fuller life, not in spite of but because of your past trauma.

Keep working until you can use it as motivation instead of allowing it to be a cinder block around your neck. It’s hard. It will be one of the hardest things you ever do. You might backslide, and you will still revert back to grieving from time to time. That’s okay. Pick yourself back up and keep living. That’s how you keep the abusers from winning – you live.

Simple things can trigger repressed memories

Now to what I am processing. It’s funny how even the smallest thing can trigger your memory. Something that I haven’t paid attention to in years sparked something in my mind and opened the floodgates to too many painful memories.

I have a small scar on my hand. It’s really small and in one of the wrinkles near my wrist, so it’s hard to see. I haven’t paid attention to it in more years than I remember. Yesterday morning it caught my attention and memories started dripping in until the flood gates were opened and too much flooded back.

Trauma, trauma responses, and correlations to repressed memories

Someone once burned my hand with a lit match, and that is what gave me the small scar that is still with me over 3 decades later. Remembering this explains why I have an overreaction when I touch something hot. It’s not just a physical intolerance. It’s a mental intolerance.

I have always been afraid of snakes, but I have an irrational fear that would make me cause harm to myself or others to get away from a snake. A memory came back this morning that explains the irrational fear. I was once physically restrained while someone held a snake in my face, knowing I was terrified.

Identifying self-esteem issues related to trauma

I have agoraphobia. Self-esteem has been a big issue for me for most of my life. Unless I was in a full-blown manic episode, I have always worried about what strangers thought of me when they saw me. I feared they looked at me in disgust as if I had a second head growing out of the side of my neck. This fear was bad enough that it led to severe agoraphobia that I still struggle with today.

One of the memories I had repressed explains that. I was once held down the day before school pictures and had hickeys placed on both of my cheeks. People did stare. They did look at me in disgust. Makeup didn’t fully cover those marks, and they were noticed.

Identifying corresponding childhood traumas

There is a comedian with a standup special on one of the streaming services – Taylor Tomlinson. In her latest special she discussed being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and how her past affected her. She talked about her therapist connecting parts of her personality to corresponding childhood traumas.

I get it. I completely get it. Some of you who remember me from All About Bipolar and atorturedsoul days know I like to analyze everything to learn how to better cope with my mental health issues and identify triggers in order to try to remain stable. I am definitely analyzing everything to understand why I am the way I am. I’m learning why I have some deep-rooted fears and insecurities. Perhaps this will help me resolve or at least lessen some of the issues I have because of fear.

Learning to manage fear caused by trauma

Fear is a very powerful thing. Fear can make you a prisoner in many ways. Abusers use fear as a control tactic. Fear can keep you from living a full life. It takes control of you and holds you back. I have found the root of some of my fears and I am recognizing other fears may be rooted in abuse hidden in repressed memories.

I will spend time trying to understand how to dispose of or at least lessen the fears I have because of this. Taking time to figure things out and make peace with it all might help. Maybe. Either way, making peace with my past is necessary no matter how hard it is. I’ll be working on it and hoping there are not many more repressed memories.

Read more below.


♫ I’ve had a bad day and it’s all because of you.

I’m not okay after what you put me through.

You broke me.

F@$% you.♫

Considering that I have periods of time with very little or no memories, I fear there may be many more such memories lurking under the surface waiting to sabotage my progress. No matter what comes to light, I pledge to work on it and keep it from ruining my progress. I will not revert to my former self. I will keep growing no matter what repressed memories are revealed.

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