1.29.2009

EMDR


Yesterday, I did another session of EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, a therapy I did a few years ago, which helped me recover from some past trauma. Having enjoyed its good results for months and months, though, I'd forgotten just HOW remarkable and life-altering EMDR is and, faced with the option to try it in my current night-of-the-living-dead depression, had not-much faith in its ability to cure.

I won't go into the specifics of how it works, because you can find plenty of information about EMDR online--including plenty of controversy. This is just to say that it has worked for me, changing my state of mind, and therefore my life, in profound ways.

When I went in yesterday, I had been haunted by an image that was causing me enormous emotional and physical distress (a common symptom of PTSD). On a scale of 1-10, I put the severity at a 12. When the image intruded on my brain, the world would go dark; it was hard for me to function, to be rational, to feel human.

By the time I left Doc Judy's office, the same image ranked a 2, about the same number I'd give road kill I happened upon while jogging. That possum rug or squirrel stew might be ugly and sad, and it might pop into my head from time to time, but it would be disturbing only as something disgusting that had nothing to do with me. I'd never scrape it up and carry it with me; I wouldn't feel the need to analyze it; and I wouldn't worry about the cars that might run over it and where they might spread it down the street. More importantly, I would not blame myself for its death.

In short, a situation I had internalized, something I believed was a reflection on me and my value as a human being, became separate--not my problem: merely something gross.

That's not to say it was easy to get from 12 to 2. It was an hour-and-a-half of low-grade torture--confronting that image, feeling its full weight, and understanding where its power came from.

But today, that image and its source have lost their power.

Something to consider if you've ever experienced trauma--be it a singular catastrophe, such as assault or a bad accident , or a sustained ordeal, such as childhood abuse or war. It can even work on more diffuse cases, such as your mom and dad's divorce when you were a kid, being bullied at school, or your own divorce (see 'war' above). Abandonment and betrayal count, too, of course. Or, say, your parents sent Spot "to live on a farm." Whatever your issue, it's worth a try.

In fact, I'd venture that George, JackMan, Lo, and Biggy are all excellent candidates.

4 comments:

Collin Kelley said...

Hey, if it works and puts your mind at easy, go for it.

Sara said...

My last therapist had me doing this too--I revolted at the idea of having PTSD, but. It helped some.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have done this therapy, and it does help immensely.
MAG

Trisha said...

I'm currently reading a book by Shapiro to prepare for EMDR. I hope it provides relief. I've needed it the last few weeks.

Thanks for sharing.

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