This coming Friday, I will be doing EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).* Don’t ask me what it really is–I’ll tell you after my first session. As I understand it though, from reading an interview with the trauma expert Dr. Van der Kolk and hearing people’s reports over the years, it’s a way of desensitizing Post-traumatic Stress triggers and reintegrating the information into the nervous system; in other words, triggers get defused.
I’ve been interested in this technique for quite a while. A friend of mine, who’d been in a major car accident as a kid, was helped years ago through EMDR; she can now drive on freeways again. Just last month within the span of one week, I received three or four reports from friends and acquaintances about its effectiveness. Ah, a sign! Coincidentally, my wife dropped the card of a therapist on my desk, whom she thought I’d like. I didn’t need to ask her whether this counselor did EMDR; it seemed I was destined to try it.
What I’m hoping for is a nullification of my many triggers. Bright overhead lights; masked or hooded individuals; pillow cases that split open at the back so that the pillow shows through; any resemblances of the scar on my belly, for example, stitches on baseballs and footballs; the popping of anything, like balloons, a tire, or a bag blown up with air; certain slants of sunlight, on and on. I’ve blogged about these triggers and the ways I’ve coped with them through drawing, writing, affirmations, and meditation, and in fact, I’ve had much success in dealing with them in positive ways. Trouble is, they don’t go away!
For those of you tuning into this blog for the first time, I had a surgery for pyloric stenosis, a stomach blockage, without anesthesia or pain control at one month old and my triggers are connected, not only to my early illness and operation, but to reenactments I’ve suffered over the years due to unresolved early trauma. Could EMDR possibly free me from trigger stimulation? Could EMDR soothe my nervous system? Will it be easier for me to fall asleep? Will I stop gritting my teeth while I sleep? Will my protective body armor relax? Here’s hoping.
I don’t think EMDR is an instant fix. It may take several sessions or more, I don’t know. I’m willing to try though. Apparently, no one knows yet exactly how EMDR works, but who cares? I don’t really know how my brain works, but I use it and am grateful for it. I don’t really know how my computer or car work, but they are important tools in my life. Frankly, I hear often that EMDR works. I’m going for it!
*If you want to know more about EMDR, the book Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-help Techniques from EMDR Therapy by Dr. Francine Shapiro might help. I haven’t read it yet, but the author is the creator of this technique.
Wendy, I did EMDR many years ago (for a few years, off and on) and did find it to be helpful. It stopped my mind and body from leaping into a trauma response. I also used it when I wanted to start triathlon training and I had to “re-story” (!) an earlier bicycle accident and near-drowning experience. I think it helped me be able to ride in traffic and swim in open water without panicking. Good luck to you! Love.
Thanks, Susan, for the support. That’s awesome that EMDR helped you with those things. Your life is so much richer for having been able to bike and swim. I’m looking for some soothing of hypervigilance and letting down of body armor. In any case, it’s totally worth a try, isn’t it. Most people say positive things about their experience. Love u.
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Thank you for reading. Thank you for your encouragement.
You have certainly had some strong recommendations to embark on EMDR therapy, and I will follow your follow-up reports with great interest and hope, Wendy. Triggers are part of PTSD, as many sufferers know. We have each written about some of the triggers we have each inherited from our past experience of infant surgery because of the crude and questions-denying way it was done in the past. Thank you for this hope-inducing introduction to yet another way of managing the long-term effects.
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