Despite having been told I have trauma related mental illnesses that will stick with me like the proverbial German Shepherd, EMDR therapy came along just in time.
It sounds too simple and frankly, too silly to count as therapy and muchless to be effective. Basically, you roll your eyes to improved mental health. Is that what my teenagers were aiming for when they used to roll theirs at my lectures? Haha.
Firstly, EMDR is therapy for trauma, which I have had alot of, some by happenstance and some by choice of bad association.
The therapist asks about the event and makes notes on a pad; how did the incident make me feel? What was the message received from such an experience? I answer; it left me feeling cold and empty, worthless and undeserving of lifes good things. More flawed than others, disconnected in a crowded room, anxious about everything and fearful of nothing. I get anxious about the unknowns but am not afraid of the known. Hmmm.
I told her about witnessing a head on car collision on August 15th, 2016. I was the first on scene of the crumpled car of the still seizing driver. The emergency service was overwhelmed by calls and placed me on hold three times while the victim squeezed my hand numb. I can sometimes still smell the gasoline, blood, spilled antifreeze and burned rubber, hear the sound of glass breaking, the thud of the impact and then the moment of shocked silence as that segment of society grapples with what to do next.
How did you feel? She said. What were the most pronounced feelings at the time? Hopelessness and abandonment.
When was the first time you ever felt that way? In my crib, at infancy.
Okay lets go there. Pull up the picture. Then she moves her index and middle finger back and forth rapidly for a few minutes and I try to follow with my eyes while maintaining the memory. Big breath in and out. What changed? What stayed the same?
I have been disassociating, she says. Trying too hard to follow the finger movements. So she taps my knees instead, back and forth, back and forth, instead, while I close my rolling eyes.
Sometimes the picture fades out completely. Sometimes it moves a great distance away or alot closer. Lets go with that, she always says. There is no wrong answer.
I leave feeling different mentally. A warm feeling spreads over my noggin sometimes. Othertimes I feel tremendous peace. Sometimes, good old anxiety. What now?! Who am I without the bad memories?!
I don't expect to wake up a different person but the therapy has reconnected some loose wires. My trauma-fractured short term memory has gelled somewhat. I forget less, remember more. I "blank out" less.
Journaling and writing about my life experiences helps. I don't want to dwell on the past nor be absorbed in self pity, but someone told me once: the cheapest form of therapy is a notebook and a pen.
Or in this case, pad, pen and pointer.
Joke: What did one shrink say to the other?
Answer:"You're fine how am I?"
A Moodscope member.