Body Memories, Flashbacks, and Blood Pressure

Notices are after this entry.

Now I know that the body remembers what happened to it and can duplicate the state the body was in during a traumatic event. This is considered a kind of sensory flashback, along with flashbacks of sight, sound, taste, and smell. Add pain and touch, and you can account for most body memories.

I know that blood vessels right under the skin can dilate during a flashback. Years and years ago, I saw a red mark appear on a survivor’s neck as she was describing being choked. That, to my mind, was a clear body memory.

So is it possible that major arteries and veins can constrict and dilate during a body memory? Why not? The actual mechanism could be the same as it was years earlier when the trauma took place.

Let me go back over my blood pressure history with that possibility in mind. I’m going to get detailed because I am so preoccupied with the readings.

I had normal blood pressure (120/80) until I got my first RA memories about thirty years ago.

I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure (163/124) in 1985 and put on blood pressure-lowering medication. I have been on meds ever since. When one stopped working, I was given a different one or an additional one. Then a third and even a fourth was necessary to keep things at a mild roar.

About six or seven years ago, I started feeling light-headed at night. I was afraid of falling and so lay down on the floor. I’d doze off (or lose consciousness?) on and off for a couple of hours and then, when I felt safe enough to stand and walk, take myself to bed. I started to wonder if these episodes could be explained by low blood pressure, and kept the blood pressure cuff by the computer.

I was right. I started feeling light-headed when my systolic blood pressure was below 100.

I lost all faith in my cardiologist when she told me I was having transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes), that I was unsafe living at home, and that I should move into assisted living. She didn’t do an EKG, order any other tests, and didn’t seem to have considered any other possible explanations. She also said I was too dumb to understand what I read on the Internet and should just trust her. So I went hunting for a new cardiologist.

However, my primary care physician thought I was over-medicated and took me off three of the four medications I was taking. She was right. Older people become less efficient at metabolizing medications. The poor old liver and kidneys have to work harder, and when they can’t keep up, blood levels of medication rise. I have not been on more than two medications at a time since then.

My new cardiologist is a far better doctor and humble enough to know when he does not know something. Recently, he sent me to a Hypertension Clinic to be evaluated. The good news was that they ruled out all the serious things they usually find in people referred to them for hypertension. The bad news is that they seemed to have run out of ideas.

I researched and found postprandial hypotension. Postprandial hypotension occurs in older folks when blood rushes to the stomach to help digest food, and there isn’t enough left to maintain blood pressure. So I tried eating six small meals a day instead of three normal ones and checking my blood pressure. Not my problem: it only dropped a few points, just as when I was eating three meals a day.

A fellow RA survivor friend suggested polyvagal shutdown. Polyvagal shutdown occurs when you are terrified, and it is not possible to fight or flee from the danger. The vagal nerve takes over, stops the production of adrenaline, slows heartbeat and breathing, and drops blood pressure. That’s the “freeze” response – playing possum in hopes the saber-tooth tiger will think you are dead and go after more appealing prey.

So if the freeze response occurs now, it probably is because we are having an emotional flashback to a terrifying situation, and the vagal nerve thinks it’s happening in the present and reacts as if it were happening in the present. In other words, a body flashback.

Then I started seeing a whole new pattern of low blood pressure measurements. During the days, first a couple of days a week, then more often, my blood pressure would be normal, plus or minus 15 points. Hooray! The drugs were working!

Except – when the readings were below 140, I did not take the meds because I was afraid I would faint if I had a 50-60 point drop. And I refused to take that chance. So this was all happening without meds.

Of course, I went right to the direst explanation. There was something else seriously wrong with my heart that prevented it from beating strongly enough to raise my BP to my “normal” level. And it was rare, and even if they identified what it was, there was no treatment, and it would do me in.

Survivors in my support groups suggested that the body is very good at healing itself and that I had been happy recently. Maybe I had finally relaxed enough that things were approaching normal. My new normal might be healthy!

Well, I was a tad skeptical. Had I been reacting to the stress of remembering and coping with all that brought with it by having high blood pressure continuously since 1985? And now, had I worked through all my issues and relaxed enough for my blood pressure to come down to 120/80 plus or minus 15 points systolic? Not likely, but it would be great if that were so.

A nurse practitioner challenged my pessimism during an intake interview with me for a sleep study that the Hypertension Clinic had ordered. I told her what was going on, that I had had a super sucky childhood, and my friends suggested that the high blood pressure was due to remembering and that now I seem much happier, more present, more relaxed. And that is why my blood pressure is dropping back to near-normal.

I asked if this were possible, and she said, “absolutely.”

My current hypothesis about my blood pressure is that the presence or absence of flashbacks governs it. Until I remembered, I had no flashbacks, so my blood pressure was normal. Then my memories came, and I was in almost continuous flashbacks of one sort or another for thirty-five years. Now, although it is news to me, I have worked through enough that I am no longer under the stress that continuous flashbacks caused, and my blood pressure is returning to normal.

If so, thank you, my wondrous, miracle-performing body. And, even if this isn’t the explanation, I’m in awe of your resilience. I thought I would be dead at thirty, and you thought otherwise. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Cat Update

Baker has discovered the cat tree and has made it to the first level. He promptly falls asleep there. From the exertion? It’s only a sixteen-inch jump. I was assured that he likes to be high up and would jump up on counters (no), tables (no), bookshelves (no), and cat trees. I’m just as glad he doesn’t like to be on the kitchen counters.

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 Holiday ZOOM Drop-In Group to celebrate our freedom

We are meeting on Sunday, July 3, 2 – 4 PM Pacific Time to celebrate our escape from the perpetrators. Our freedom. Our independence.

Stop in to say hello or stay the whole time. Bring a meal or a snack and eat together or just hang out with other RA/MC survivors. joanies and Rainsinger will be our hosts.

Register through  https://grassroots-ra-mc-collective.org/events/ d.

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RA/MC Panel at the International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference

I will be part of a four-person panel of RA/MC survivors of child sex trafficking. The title of the presentation is “The Interface between Sex Trafficking, Ritual Abuse, and Mind Control Programming.” It will be in two parts. Each part will consist of a panel discussion recording followed by live questions and answers. There will be a fifteen-minute break between the two sections.

Our time-slots are 1:45 and 3:15 on Thursday, September 22. 2022. Read more about the presentation plus descriptions of all the other presentations at https://app.traffickingconference.com/schedule

Please come see us in (virtual) person! Choose the “Free Attendee Registration” option for survivors and remember to write for the registration code number. Register at https://www.traffickingconference.com/register

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Upcoming Holidays

July
7/4 Independence Day
7/13 Full Moon
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Grand Climax/Da Meur

August
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/11 Full Moon
8/13 Friday the 13th
8/15 (?) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8/24 St. Bartholomew’s Day

September
9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage to the Beast
9/5 Labor Day (United States)
9/10 Full Moon
9/22 Fall Equinox
9/29 (?) Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and of all Angels

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

July 29: Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party.
August 1: Lammas
Early August through October: Various preparations are done in readiness for October, the month with the largest number of celebrated dates.
September 22: autumnal equinox, “Fall Festival.
9/25 – 9/27: Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)

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You can find more information on the following holidays at:

Candlemas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-
Beltane – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/ 
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinox – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween (personal) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ 
Halloween (background) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/ 

9 thoughts on “Body Memories, Flashbacks, and Blood Pressure

  1. I posted above and I’m good with it not being approved. I meant to post on the Lammas page as the holiday that has crept up on me. Though I just got a fitbit for the same reasons above. BP high and pulse can jump from 60-130 just walking to the kitchen. They say POTS from long COVID. Hard to know what to believe when there is this to consider also.

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    1. Be aware that Fitbit is not great with pulse – check it with your BP cuff. I found it best to ignore the Fitbit readings 0 they were consistently high except at rest. Maybe it depends on the model.

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  2. Wow. I have long COVID. Last week when I was constantly freezing – heat on 72, hoodie, blanket while sitting in recliner, still freezing, I figured it was a resurgence as that happens on occasion but usually they last longer and are more than exhaustion and cold. I had no chills, no temp, just cold. Now I find this. It’s truly amazing when our bodies respond and we have no clue what they are responding to. Freaky. I’ll be talking to my T and other SRA survivor friends and ask if this has been a thing for them also. Thanks so much for this blog. It’s freaky and it’s also kind of creepy. I had a FB last week and haven’t had one in years that I remember (poor memory for time.) And the. To find out freezing cold is a thing. Freaky bodies we have that remember or programming. It’s hard to know which.

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    1. It could be a body memory of being tortured by being locked out in the cold in winter or submersed in cold water. Or it could be one more symptom of long COVID. Or the symptom caused the body memory (flashback), so it could be both. Gets real confusing!

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  3. Oh my word I was just talking to T about this a week or so ago!!
    Lately with near death memories, the body gets soooooooo super cold and sharp burning pain shooting through what feels like the nerves all over the body – we started wearing a fitbit and the lowest I’ve seen the body’s heart rate drop to is low 60s when it does this so I can only imagine what the blood pressure is doing 😦

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    1. Scary. What do you think happened? Electric shock in a cold room?? Merging of two memories?

      A pulse of 60 is not dangerously low – I have a pacemaker and it is set for 60 at rest, which is probably all night and most of the day, seeing as I spend so much time at the computer. And blood pressure is not correlated with heart rate, though I would think it should be. If you are concerned about your blood pressure, buy a blood pressure monitor at the drugstore. The ones that run on batteries and fit over the top of the arm give the best readings.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jean,

    I haven’t commented in quite some time but I’m always reading and, with posting this blogpost, you must have read my mind because I’m just in the middle of finding out if my body is failing me or if it’s flashbacks and trauma.
    I’m glad to hear the body can recover and feel ‘normal’ again. It amazes me because the things you went thru were so damaging and we survived! You survived
    It’s truly baffling
    It also feels scary when bodies tell us things we really want to forget. I’m currently experiencing body flashbacks and I’m literally getting goosebumps and feeling ice cold in summer.
    Thank you for giving me some hope that things will get better.
    Kate

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry to hear you are going through this. It sounds really intense.

      And you are right, it’s totally baffling, to us and to medical personnel alike. It can be so hard to tell a body memory from a flashback. And body memories sometimes require medical attention, sometimes not. Also, it works the other way: sickness or injury can trigger body memories.

      So why can’t the body flash back to normal?

      On another subject – I had no idea you read my blog! I’m honored. Would you like to do a guest post? And tell people about yours?

      Like

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