EMDR - What is it and how can it help? Trauma Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (or EMDR) is a trauma therapy designed to alleviate the symptoms associated with traumatic experiences. I started EMDR with an incredible psychologist in Hobart almost three years ago after going through some pretty traumatic trauma therapy.
In the past, people have always thought that the only way to truly process trauma is to talk through every little bit of the experience. I can confirm that that doesn't work for everyone, in fact, when done incorrectly, the very experience of talking through your trauma can be re-traumatising in itself. When I was an inpatient at a psychology clinic in 2018 I was told that "my final treatment option" for PTSD was to talk through my trauma with a new therapist. I had done almost everything I could to not tell anyone details of my trauma up until that point. Every time I did I found myself crippled by symptoms of PTSD and was frankly scared to my bones at the thought of going through every little bit with someone, let alone someone I hardly knew. Despite this, I trusted that they knew what was best for me and had experienced the benefits with other patients in the past.
Fast forward three months, I was still an inpatient and could hardly take a step outside without having a crippling panic attack. I was hardly sleeping an hour a night, dissociating constantly and was having flashbacks left and right. My family and friends helped pull me up off the floor and my amazing GP sent me to a new psychiatrist who changed my life. She was the first person to talk to me about EMDR and, at that point, I would have tried anything. I started seeing a psychologist who specialises in EMDR in late 2018 and am still undergoing treatment with him to this day.
Starting EMDR was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It hasn't been easy (it can suck every ounce of energy out of you possible) but it has changed my life and, even though I still experience PTSD, I am so much better off because of it. EMDR can be done differently depending on your therapist. My psych uses visual cues to recreate the brains way of processing everything in each session. The best way I have been explained EMDR is to think about how our brain processes things during REM sleep each night. EMDR is basically recreating REM sleep while we are awake to process specific memories and experiences so they don't effect us to the same extent or in the same way.
The aim of EMDR isn't to forget or say that your trauma won't exist anymore, but to store it in a different way so that you can remember without it taking over your body's every cell.
I can't say I have been cured by EMDR yet but I am not the same person who started the therapy in 2018. When I am reminded of my trauma or have flashbacks or sleepless nights I notice that my experience is quietened in comparison to what used to happen. Don't get me wrong, I still have times where I am crippled by PTSD but my life just doesn't compare.
Medical procedures in theatre are quite triggering for me and in the past I have experienced days (sometimes more) of nonstop panic attacks. During a recent hospital stay I noticed, all of a sudden, that I was able to not only experience the theatre on a different level but that I was able to talk about my trauma and how that compared to the theatre with my doctors. That has been the biggest thing for me. I can talk about my own experience more openly now than ever before. I have been seeking therapy for almost seven years now, so I know that my ability to manage panic attacks and such can not be solely put down to EMDR but I do know that EMDR has made the biggest change.
Talking therapy is not fundamentally harmful but I do know that it is not for me. And that.is.okay. If you are struggling to talk about how you are affected by trauma I would recommend trying EMDR. I would honestly recommend EMDR to everyone!
I am going to link below some websites I found most helpful in explaining what I was in for before I started EMDR. Please reach out if you have any questions, I would love to help.
Life is tough, but so are you.
EMDR Institute INC: https://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/
American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments/eye-movement-reprocessing