EMDR ((Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a technique used by some therapists to help us overcome traumatic situations, images, thoughts, or things affecting us from our past. This is something many PTSD patients find useful. I will explain it to you how I understand and interpret it but you should of course speak with your therapist and specifically one who does study EMDR for additional details.
I had never heard this term before the passing of my husband. Just something else new to learn and understand. My friend brought it to my attention as an effective technique for trauma patients either before or with talk therapy. It is “Tapping” into your left and right brain while you imagine a stressful, traumatic experience. When you go through something traumatic (finding your spouse deceased or combat where a fellow soldier is killed) that image is in the forefront of your mind. You cannot move past it or file it away in your memory bank. It is ALL encompassing. It is all you see.
Ways you can do EMDR:
- Tapping on the body left and right by a therapist (bilateral stimulation)
- Music playing in your ears left and right switching
- Movement of the therapists finger left and right while you follow the finger
I personally chose the physical tapping. I felt that this would be most effective for me and following the finger seemed the most annoying for me. We did try all three techniques out.
I went into the office and we began with thinking of finding my husband passed away in the darkness of night. As I replayed the movie of the October 23rd experience I cried and cried like it was just happening again because for me it felt exactly like it was still happening. Everyday after he died and until the experience of EMDR I replayed the same movie repeatedly and experienced the same fear/shock/paralysis. In the evenings if I was lucky to close my eyes for a brief time I would find myself replaying again and I would be unable to move, get up out of bed, grab a glass of water, etc.
For me this treatment just worked. It worked fast. It blew my mind. It changed my mind. I was so in need of something to work. Everything was so new and raw and I had no preconceived notions on any of this. I replayed the torture of finding him and when that went away it was onto working through the words and statements he made in the few weeks before he passed away, the way he seemed distant and odd and dark. He made a few comments that I would not stop replaying over and over in my head. They killed every chance of me feeling remotely OK, even though there was no chance of that. Things like “you need a husband who goes out more” which was said to me while I was in the shower being happy. Then while we laid in bed with our dogs he said once “you all would be fine without me”.
It is not something that works immediately for everyone and also the degree and length of the experience, and how long ago the experience occurred all factor into how many times you need to replay the scene and go through EMDR.
When it works… you get your mind BACK. It is YOURS again. Now when you want to draw up the traumatic experience it is you recalling this from your memory. It is not sitting there hanging out in front of your face where you cannot push it away.
Please consider trying this. It is by far and away the best thing I did for myself in the early stages. I would still be laying in bed imagining him dead and unable to move if this was not something I did.
This image was posted by https://innerhealingresources.com/emdr/ and I thought you may find it helpful.
Brain Scans before and after EMDR (this is something my therapist showed me to help explain what is going on up in the mind. Saved from