EMDR therapy is hard. It’s a type of trauma therapy that my therapist is using on me to help with different events in my life. Before I go too far, I want you to know what exactly is EMDR therapy: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing* involves eye movement or tactical stimulation to activate the opposite side of the brain that is “holding on” to memories, trauma, “triggers,” etc. EMDR is the most effective and rapid method for healing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as shown by extensive scientific research studies.* My therapist is using tactical stimulation (little buzzers that go in each hand) for me. They buzz for probably 5 – 10 seconds a piece alternating from left to right. So, it buzzes for 5-10 seconds in my left hand, and then it buzzes in the right hand, all while I’m focused on one particular image or phrase or both. For me, it helps keep me grounded, safe. I can see the trauma without reliving it too extensively. EMDR is often used for birth trauma, as well, so I can relate with patients who have needed it and refer those who may be suffering still.
Today, though. Wow. It was hard. My therapist even said it was a lot and to take it easy for a few days. We start with an issue: I have a horrible fear of vomiting. I want to get over that fear, so I don’t hyperventilate any time I am nauseated. So today was vomiting. After talking a bit, we realized the last time I let myself throw up was while I was pregnant with the baby girl we lost. *HUGE piece of info* So, I needed to visualize what I was doing, my surroundings, smells, sounds, etc. (This is NOT hypnosis). I focus on that. What level of stress does this cause, on a scale of 1-10? A 4-ish. What’s the worst part of this image? When I black out after vomiting. What do I believe about myself when I see this image? Nothing. (at first). Okay, let’s start. We begin with my breathing and visualizing that particular moment where I vomit and black out. The buzzers pulsate back and forth several times, and then they stop. Open eyes, deep breath. How do I feel? Numb. “Go with that” (my least favorite words). So, I do. The buzzers begin again, and I keep focusing. My thoughts bounce around not wanting to focus, but I force it. I vomit, black out, vomit, black out, baby is gone, vomit, black out, I want my baby back…Deep breathe, eyes open. What did I feel? Sad. What do I think about myself when I see this image now? (it takes me a few to form the words or grasp what I am saying) That I should have known something was wrong and gone to the hospital. Maybe they could have stopped it from happening. “Go with that”……….I close my eyes and the buzzers start their gentle vibrations back and forth in my hands, one to another. I try to focus on the image, but I cry, just a little. My body doesn’t want to do this. My thoughts bounce everywhere but where they need to stay focused. I think of my husband. The buzzers stop. Breathe, open eyes. What do I feel? Angry. Angry that my husband had a vasectomy and now I can’t have any more babies. Angry that I forced him to have one. “Go with that”……So, I try. I visualize being pregnant, vomiting, blacking out, repeatedly. I feel so angry now; angry at myself. I don’t want other babies; I want mine back. The buzzers stop, and I open my eyes. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Now, how do I feel? Hurt. Lots of hurt. (I cry some, but not fully). My therapist tells me it’s okay to feel angry; it’s okay to want my baby back. It’s not my fault. I hear him, but believe him? Not so much. So, I ask him how this relates to me being so afraid to vomit. He explains it thoroughly and in many details, that my body and my mind (subconsciously) have this thought that I killed my baby. And every time I feel nauseated, my body “freaks out.” It relieves it, so I don’t have to on a conscious level. I get that. Will it get better? Yes. With time and therapy eventually my mind won’t fight the thoughts as much, and I will be able to feel safe while thinking about that image.
So that’s my EMDR experience for the day. Next week will be different; hopefully my mind will not fight me so much and more progress can be made. Until then, I’m resting, taking my meds, and praying for minimal side effects. (Side effects can be irritability, crying spells, mood swings). This therapy works. And, I am glad to have a therapist trained in it, willing to help me.