As you may or may not be aware, the most significant healing work I did in regards to my PTSD was via EMDR therapy.
It’s quite an amazing technique in that how it works exactly, is still unknown. Also, if it’s the right therapy for you, healing can be very swift. It is said that for more chronic/protracted types of trauma, the process can take much longer. In my case, I had about six sessions. That was enough to completely resolve my flashbacks, the unbidden terror I was living with and other related symptoms.
I’ve made a few attempts to explain EMDR to the best of my ability. But I’m not a therapist and I can only draw from my own experience, so of course any explanation I can provide is limited.
Recently, Dr. Kathleen Young (a licensed clinical psychologist, EMDR trained therapist and fellow blogger) has written a series of posts about EMDR. I think they provide some very useful information about the process and how it works.
You can check them out here:
If you or someone you know has developed PTSD, then it may be worthwhile considering EMDR.
I will say this however – the swiftness of my healing process left me feeling a little overwhelmed. All of the protection mechanisms and coping strategies I’d developed to handle the frequent onslaught of trauma symptoms were suddenly not required. Which is a good thing, right? Of course it is! But I still felt like my nervous symptom needed a moment or two to catch up.
Another issue I faced when realising I was suddenly flashback-free is something that Michele of Heal My PTSD has written about before:
- Treating PTSD: What’s Your Post-Trauma Identity?
- Treating PTSD: What’s Your Post-Trauma Identity?, Part 2
Most people with PTSD have lived with it every day for a very long time. As a result, it can become a part of your identity: “I am a person with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”. Letting go of that identity can be just as scary as dealing with your trauma on a daily basis.
It is natural to want to cling on to what we know, even when those things are painful or damaging. And so if you do decide to try EMDR and find that it works for you, it’s important to prepare for a life free of the patterns of trauma that have haunted you relentlessly for so long.
Whatever path to healing you take, I wish you all the very best!
emdr sounds really interesting. there are a lot of people who suffer with ptsd and this could be a remarkable method of healing – i’m all for it! 🙂 hugs!!
It is fascinating how EMDR works, seemingly like magic for so many. The brain is one mysterious thing, isn’t it?! I can almost picture EMDR working on it like this – as the eyes move little tumblers in the brain are shifting and clicking, realigning into place pre trauma. I have never tried it, myself, but I certainly would. So glad it’s been a powerful and successful healing tool for you. love, Karin
Catatonic Kid said:
will have to read those. keep trying to get an idea of what it actually is, without much success. a few folks i know, your fine self included, have done it and had really good results, especially with comorbid stuff happening, and then to have results last in the long term just from EMDR is pretty cool. if baffling.
and ok that eye has an “i’m about to wig out completely” thing going on… which is fitting but kinda tripping me out now.
*wanders away to read article type goodness and thereby avoid work of any kind*
Thanks for the info on EMDR. Those articles are very helpful. I found EMDR hasn’t worked for me, but reading the articles, I can see the therpist i went to wasn’t applying the technique in the standard way at all. I’m also wondering if it is as effective for complex PTSD – for multiple incidents suffered in childhood? All the info I’ve read talks about fairly clearly remembered trauma that happened in adulthood. Something I’m wondering about.
Very good to hear this worked for you Svasti.
@melita – I’ve heard it said that it doesn’t work for everyone, which makes sense. But hey if you are one of the folks it works for then it’s your lucky, lucky day!
@Karin – Thank you lovely! And I wish you continued healing in your own journey. Lots of love to you! xo
@CK – I was suspicious of EMDR too. Especially when, after just one session I was already feeling a lot better. It is mysterious but I let go of the need for understanding “why”, especially since it just bloody well worked. So much relief and confusion and here I am, over a year later and still doing a gazillion times better than I was pre-EMDR. Sorry about the eye. I kinda liked it 😉
@Ellen – That’s excellent news that the articles could show you something about how EMDR needs to be applied vs how your experienced it. It is meant to be good for complex PTSD too, but it just takes longer to get through everything. Maybe those are questions you can ask Kathleen over on her blog?
that’s interesting about PTSD becoming part of the identity. do you think that comes over time, or is something that becomes ingrained immediately?
Svasti–we’ve talked about EMDR before when you have posted it. I have never been involved (personally) with that therapeutic approach but I know quite a bit about it from my studies in psychology. You aren’t the only person who has really been helped by this treatment–and obviously, so many things have turned your life in such a more positive direction.
I am always so happy when bloggers talk about their struggles–and their success with a therapy because there is still so much fear that surrounds going to see a therapist. If more people talk openly, as you are, then more people will seek help and that’s just so important.
Take care, my friend!
@Emma – Pretty much anything that we do as a pattern in our lives can become a part of our identity, often we don’t even realise it. So yeah, I think it’s something that happens over time and often for those with PTSD, it really seems like there’s no way out. In fact, there aren’t too many people out there talking about the fact that it is possible to heal from PTSD all together. Thanks for commenting! 🙂
@Melinda – Yes we have talked about this before, and it’s true, I’m far from the only person that has been helped by EMDR. I just wish it was more of a well known treatment! Often in the media, PTSD is portrayed as something that the sufferer is stuck with for the rest of their life. So I agree, it’s so important to talk about the fact that healing is possible AND about my experiences. PTSD does not have to be a life sentence!
Michele Rosenthal said:
LOVE the bluntness re: your reaction to the swiftness of your healing. I experienced that, too. Actually called my hypnotherapist and demanded to know when this peace and calm, this full night’s sleep, this lack of nightmares would disappear because I didn’t want to get used to them!
And then they didn’t disappear and I’ve had to reconstruct my whole identity around the idea of myself as a person who no longer has PTSD. It’s been an exciting — and mystifying — journey. So glad there are many of us on the path together. 🙂
@Michele Rosenthal – I know! How dare life get better after so much crap, eh? Hehe! Yes, the more of us there are out there, the better. The message needs to be told over and over until other people start to believe it, too…