On August 12, I had my second EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation & Reprocessing) ever. Before I go into details, here’s a quick video that explains it how this type of therapy works.
In short, bilateral stimulation allows your brain to reprocess a memory. A traumatic memory, in example, can be reprocessed into a less disturbing and scary memory. Negative feelings attached to a specific memory are replaced with positive feels. Those steps are the nuts and bolts of EMDR Therapy.
A year passes before I am ready for this second EMDR session. I am more prepared to step into the “time machine”. I finally recognized that if I didn’t address the spiritual side to healing, it would take much longer to heal. I rededicated my life to Christ and gave him my burdens of trauma and pain.The truth, I believe and understand, is healing has three components: mind, body and spirit.
My shame and guilt hindered healing progress by convincing me that ” I’m not worthy of healing.” PTSD is too big for God” and “Everything is my fault, so I have to deal with this on my own.” Feelings of shame and guilt are commonly attached to people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Bye-bye lies. I’m ready for healing. On the morning of my second EMDR session, I had a gut feeling I needed to bring my amor. I put on my silver cross necklace and brought my son’s leather bound Bible. I brought these items to protect myself . Jesus goes where I go and having the Word (Bible) with me is icing on the cake. My relationship with Jesus gives more confidence that I will not suffer with PTSD my entire life.
It’s time! Setting? I’m in my therapist’s office now. I sat down on one of the two patio chairs with urgency and said, “We’re supposed to do EMDR today right ?”I didn’t want to waste time with hellos and such. My therapist asks me what memory we are working on. I said, ” medical trauma” while pointing to my seven inch scar under the right rib cage area. “Time machine” is set to the years 2008-2009.
She gives me the tappers to hold in each hand. Her bilateral stimulation device is now on and the stimulation begins. The device and tappers look similar what’s shown in this picture.
This is the part when I HAVE to go back in time and FEEL exactly how I felt during the traumatic event. I choose to close my eyes and try to feel the despair and pain. About 30 seconds go by when I open my eyes and look at my therapist with a glazed look.
She asks,”Jen, are you with me ?” She asks me this because I’m drifting away. My brain is fighting t the traumatic memories/feelings through a self -protecting mechanism called depersonalization. My brain is detaching from the experience and my body is feeling like its not my own. The brain does what the brain wants to do. In this case, my injured brain is not allowing me to feel the painful feelings.
I “come back” down to reality and tell her my brain is fighting it. I take deep breathes and remember my tools. If feel it’s too much to handle, I have two safe places in my mind I can go to. I went to my favorite safe place – a white sanded beach with palm trees waving in harmony to the ocean waves. I felt better and nodded the ok signal to try again.
Buzzing resumes and now I’m back in 2008. Sensations and emotions start to surface. In this moment, my throat starts to feel like hands are gripping it. It is now hard to swallow. Tears are rolling down my face as I feel a slight chill through my body – the hospital chill to be exact.
I’m was firmly in the middle of a traumatic memory when all of the sudden the tappers start to malfunction. My therapists tried to figure out how to fix it. The tappers stopped working altogether. I sit patiently in my chair when she tells me, I should probably tell you that this room has a history of paranormal activity. I ask,” What kind of activity?” She explained her phone has flown off her desk before and lights have flickered during other sessions with her patients.
What do you do when you’re trying to heal in a room with paranormal activity attached to it? Well, I thought, “Hmm, paranormal activity huh? I’m prepared for that.” I took the brown leather bound Bible out of my purse and place it on the chair next to me. I then begin to pray in Jesus’ name. I told satan and whatever else lingers in there to go away. I said “You have no authority to be here in my healing place. You stay in hell and burn where you belong. In Jesus’ name I rebuke you and cast you away.”
My therapists gives me headphones to give me bilateral stimulation with beeping noises. We proceeded. I faced those terrible memories. My body trembled during this process. I’m losing my breath. I go to my safe place. I concentrate on the beach and waves. These memories are in the past. I’m safe right now in this moment. In the end we had replaced negative feelings, of those memories, with more positive feelings. This is what heeling feels like.
Healing is a nonlinear process that takes time. I will need more cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR therapy to work through several traumatic memories. I have hope and more strength now. Hope and strength catapults healing of the mind, body and soul.