Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Phew! What a week.

I have been wanting so slow down so much but there is still so much to do.

This weekend I’m attending a regional poetry team competition in Portland which should be most interesting. I haven’t done one of these events in 5 years so it feels like I’m doing it for the first time. I am filled with excitement and nerves.

Portland always put me in a strange place when I visit. Like I’m visiting the ghost of someone I once was.

Thoughts on EMDR (so far)

I started EMDR a few months ago with a new therapist. I have been really interested in this form of therapy because I have heard so many good things about it related to processing trauma. It is indeed a very interesting process….but not really what I expected.

That is to say…I’m not getting better….I’m getting worse.

Sooooo…I’ve been told that it is “normal” for someone doing EMDR to “reprocess” trauma after a EMDR session and I get that, however at this point I literally feel like I am just getting re-traumatized and then “dropped” to deal with it on my own in the next few days (which are filled with flashbacks, self harming thoughts, anxiety, depression, audio hallucinations, dissociation, suicide ideation and fatigue)—

Let me be clear: I have worked VERY VERY HARD dealing with my trauma and gaining coping skills to do so and up until this point I feel like I have done a pretty good job …all things considered, but I don’t feel like it is healthy for me or safe for me to re-traumatized myself on this level and all at once.  I feel much better approaching my trauma from a different angle through art or movement or spirituality or yoga practices…for me EMDR feels kinda violating and out of control (I feel like I am a unique case here….many people who have used EMDR have said the opposite…that it makes them feel more in control…)

For me, CBT has always been my “processing” time. I am pretty comfortable talking about my traumas. For me, talking about them IS therapeutic and healthy…I get to understand new ways of coping with the past and self care practices and all that. EMDR is more visceral in the sense that I regress to that age or that place and can’t reconnect with the present at all. I become that person I was in that trauma and literally want to die….these feelings last for a few days and just when I feel like “myself” again I have to go back to a session and do it all over again. If I were in an inpatient program setting this would work SO much better for me and I would be able to truly focus on this kind of intense healing process….but realistically I have a life and a job and two kids and a husband and I need to be able to function. I honestly feel like if I continue down this path right now I will get destroyed and my family doesn’t deserve that.

I will say EMDR is an interesting form of therapy in that I can get a better understanding of the neurological patterns and connections between my traumas…but I honestly feel like this is better suited for individuals who have one or two specific traumatic events they can access (like a bad car accident for example) then someone like me who has C-PTSD and trauma is the default experience. I have been told that other people who have C-PTSD have had success with EMDR which is a great example of how all forms of therapy are not “one size fits all” and are really successful or not based on each individual’s own situation(and also why therapists and clients should be familiar with MANY forms of therapy so they can try them out and find out what works best for them)

In all honesty, stopping EMDR is probably the true therapeutic message here because I am advocating for myself and my mental health and understanding what feels good and what doesn’t. EMDR doesn’t feel good for me and isn’t helping me. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t help others . That doesn’t meant there is something wrong with me because it “isn’t working”–and it doesn’t mean I might try it again some day in a different scenario–it just means that right now in my life I am giving myself permission to be healthy in ways that actually work for me.

Therapy has always been a safe space for me to talk and express myself—and hour when I can just process anything I need to process that week. All the stress and the success and the failures and since I started EMDR I have had NO place where I can truly relax and be my unfiltered self. As someone who bottles up things inside all of the time, this became and integral part of my mental health for the last 4 years and I would love to once again make therapy a place I am excited to go every week instead of a place I dread.