It’s always been an awkward topic for me. My anxiety problem, I mean. When I meet people and they want to hang out somewhere I’m unfamiliar with or that’s out of my comfort zone for driving and I have to tell them I can’t go because of my anxiety, they always give me this funny look. Like I’m a weirdo or something. Of course, they’re always quick to give me a sympathetic smile and an “Oh, that’s alright, we’ll do something else sometime.” Most of them never ask to hang out with me again, but the rare few (who I consider to be real friends because of their actions) do.
I’m bringing this topic up again (read my first post about my anxiety here) despite my awkwardness for it, because today I started a new therapy. It’s called EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, therapy. It originally started out as treatment specifically for patients and people who have suffered from trauma (things like bad car accidents or PTSD for soldiers and civilians alike), but because of its effectiveness, it’s becoming a broader treatment for things like anxiety and depression, too. In a way, however it is that it works precisely, it helps you to reprocess memories that may have been processed by the emotional side of your brain rather than the rational side during long-term memory processing.
Here’s a bit of a blurb from the EMDR Institute‘s website: “[It’s a form of] psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.”
It’s an interesting concept to say the least. “There has been so much research on EMDR that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years.” -EMDR Inst.
All that fancy lingo and information aside, I definitely have to say that my experience with my first treatment today was far from what I expected. To be honest, I don’t know how it works really, only that I ended up sobbing like a little kid about 10 minutes in and going over memories I didn’t even know still bothered me. Somehow, though, I think they’re all related.
Adverse effects? Sure! Every treatment has them. My counselor made a point to tell me at the end of our session today that because EMDR helps memories and emotions that rouse my anxiety and subconsciously affect me so that I end up doing OCD habits, that I may continue to feel “distress during the day, more distressing and unresolved memories could emerge as the processing of incidents and materials may continue, and other dreams, memories, feelings, etc., may emerge.” –EMDR Inst. (but basically she said the same thing. I just like how they wrote it, that’s why I quoted them again. Haha!)
I’m not really sure why I’m writing this and I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable admitting it to you and the rest of the world, but I do feel like I should document this treatment process. I feel like it might not only help me, but can also be used as a learning and teaching experience for you (my readers) and (I hope) give hope to those who suffer from forms of distress-caused anxiety and OCD like me.
Other than that (sobbing for an entire hour pretty much in the middle of the day with my counselor, I mean) my day was pretty swell!
Look for my words again soon!