After my EMDR session last week, I walked through the aisles of Sprouts Farmers Market, feeling super UN-self-conscious! I felt large–large in the sense of being fully present in myself–and free–as in gliding through air, curious at all the wonderful colors and people and sights and sounds. It’s not like I don’t ever experience these things, but the dose right after EMDR was huge.
In my session, I worked on my bright-lights-overhead trigger. Amazing results. In case you are new to EMDR, as I was just two weeks ago, first you work with your therapist to identify a powerful trigger so that you can then focus on it as she sits across from you, waving a wand from side to side. You follow this wand with your eyes left-right, left-right as you dwell internally on the feeling that the trigger stimulates in you. Then she stops and you discuss what happened.
The experience was amazing! I progressed from feeling totally fearful and freaked out, to angry as all hell, to deeply sad, to comforted and soothed, and finally to happily playful. Each different emotion followed a set of forty wand-wavings left to right and back again, back and forth. After each set or segment, I checked in emotionally with my therapist. At one point, she helped me move from the sad feeling to the comforted feeling by suggesting that I hold an image of my current adult older self coming to the aid of my younger adult self.
A few days later, I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and encountered a bright light overhead when I peered out the window. My eyes barely lingered on it. I noted, oh there’s a trigger light, but then simply looked away. Before this whenever I’d see a bright light overhead, I’d feel frightened and panicky and have to tell myself that I was ok and that I was just stimulated by a trigger. Then I’d have to tell myself, Look away and get on with what you were doing. This time when I saw the trigger, I was not restimulated or bothered by it. I simply looked away because I was in the middle of doing something. So how about that?!!!!
Next week, I’ll be focusing on my automatic breath-holding whenever I lie on my back. Without thinking, my chest constricts and I’m tense everywhere, a nightly ritual before sleep or whenever I lie down. As an infant tied to a board or the operating table, my muscles paralyzed by a drug before the operation, I’m sure I tensed up as the surgeons and nurses hovered over me. When the scalpel cut into my vulnerable belly, I could not scream and no, I was not knocked out by anesthesia. I was awake and every time I lie down now, I tense up, terrified about what will befall me. My entire body becomes board-like, hardened against another onslaught.
Can EMDR help me relax before sleep? Can it help me lie down without stress and panic? Will I eventually be able to wake up from sleep feeling refreshed instead of tense from gnashing my teeth all night? Can I find some lasting relief from these post-traumatic (PTSD) triggers? Stay tuned! I’m hopeful.