Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Trying EMDR

I promised I would tell you about EMDR (not that I think you're hanging on my every word and waiting desperately, wondering if I'll keep my word or anything!) last week. It was the first time I've tried it. I've had a lot of apprehension re starting EMDR since many people I have communicated with online about it in relation to DID felt it was a risky thing. It's been on the cards lately in psychology sessions and it seemed we were preparing for it although I felt we were still waiting for something or that T didn't want to rush into it... until my meltdown last weekend. She suggested then that we would do some EMDR at the next session to help with the disturbing images etc I'd been having. 

If you haven't heard of EMDR, it is short for 'Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing'. That sounds about as easy to get your head around as a crash course in rocket science might be, but in my very layman's terms, it's something to do with causing eye movements (usually left to right, alternating) combined with thinking about certain things and this speeds up the brain processing of that thing. It goes on the theory that if you experienced something traumatic, sometimes the event gets 'stuck' in your brain and you might not process it, so every time you are reminded of it, you might feel the same way as just after it happened (ie symptoms of PTSD: post traumatic stress disorder).

EMDR is a process of making eye movements which do something fancy to the connections in your brain and help your brain to process things. The eye movements are usually done by you sitting in front of the EMDR therapist and following their left to right to left to right hand movements. It can also be done by tapping alternating sides of your body or by using sounds which alternate from left to right ears. I must emphasize that this is my interpretation of what I have been told and read and that it may not be exactly how EMDR is (because contrary to apparent popular belief (I'll tell you about that in another post), I AM NOT A THERAPIST!), but it's how I understand it. If you want to read more, I am sure Mr Wikipedia would oblige.

In my very limited reading, I am pretty sure I read that the use of the visual movements is quickest and the use of sounds is slowest. Unfortunately, I freaked out a bit when T first tried doing EMDR with me. I found the eye movements very uncomfortable and so she tried the tapping, but I felt really anxious having her so physically near to me. So we are going to try using the aural version. So last week we did a very short session of EMDR...

T gave me some ear phones and a CD player and I listened to some nice music which alternated between the left and right earphones while T asked me to think about my safe place and to imagine myself there. She said to think about how it feels in my body and to think of one word to associate with the feelings of being there in the safe place.

I found this to be a challenge because firstly, it's surprisingly hard to concentrate on listening to music, whilst listening to someone give instructions (my hearing problem doesn't help here either) and simultaneously trying to imagine myself in a safe place while also feeling extremely physically anxious and on edge (just how I normally feel in therapy sessions). 

I find that when I feel anxious, it's really hard to imagine a safe place. I know it's imagination so I should be able to come up with some kind of impenetrable fortress but I tend to always end up imagining my safe place being invaded by something or someone dangerous. It's seldom safe enough. Sometimes it is, and that feels great. It's just hard to always feel that way, then I get annoyed at myself for 'failing' in the task and feel like if I tell T, she will be disappointed in me and give up. 

On the positive side though, the music was lovely. It was hard to listen to the music because I was holding in a lot of emotions about the dreams and in life in general, I am holding in a lot of emotions about everything that's gone before, so I tend to avoid listening to sad music anyway. The song was kind of sad and I felt emotions coming up that I couldn't afford to tolerate at that moment. T thought this was a good thing and a sign that the EMDR was doing what it should. I don't have an opinion although I did feel that I would have felt the same way simply listening to that song without any alternations in sound in my ears. Another positive was that after trying it for a few minutes, I am feeling a lot less anxious about the prospect of doing EMDR in general and possibly even might be looking forward to doing it again!

So to summarise, I liked the music and I'm less anxious about trying it out now than I was, but my concerns are:
1) that I will have problems hearing her speak and listening to the music as well, because of my hearing problem and this will mean needing to go back to tapping and then I might feel anxious all over again
2) if I can't relax enough while she is EMDRing me a safe place, will I then process my safe place in a way that makes me feel anxious when I think about it?
3) how am I going to listen to the music without feeling like I'm about to burst into tears?

Then there is my new job offer, which has been a lot to take in. I'm still not sure what this will mean for me but it could mean huge change at work and this is something I'm not sure I want because it's not likely to lessen my work load at all. Thirdly, there's the news of my new diagnosis of a genetic disorder which affects my blood. This has been a lot to get my head around. 

And lastly, there's been the added stress of some twat writing horrible things about me on her blog. I may or may not write about that on here. It really upset me. I understand that some people don't believe in DID, but I let them get on with their ignorance and would like to be left to get on with my own business, not used as a case study in an effort to try and prove why people with DID are a danger to society (if the person I am referring to is reading this, please go away and leave me alone). At the same time, I don't know if I can even be bothered getting bogged down with a post about it, because I just wonder, is it worth my time?

It certainly hasn't helped me cope this week anyway and have found it very difficult to sleep. As soon as I lie down I start thinking about horrible twat or work or my illness. I also have a big work event coming up next week which I am organising and it is stressing me out big time.

Wish me luck for T day tomorrow.



Pandora said...

C - I keep trying to post here, but Blogger always throws a fit at me and doesn't save my comments. I'd written three or four paragraphs on this entry too, and it's just lost it again. Grr!

Posting this just to let you know I'm still reading, and indeed have been doing so. Beyond that, suffice to say it's great to hear you're finding EMDR OK so far, and I hope that continues. Good luck tomorrow.

Take care

Pan x

Rosieforchange said...

Hi Candycan I came across your blog from another blog http://jeanettebartha.wordpress.com/.She had a diagnosis of DID and doesn't believe it and created a blog about that. I have been ready through your posts. I am sorry you are experiencing so much chaos. It must be scary, frightening and overwhelming.
I have experienced multiple traumas in my life that lead to traumatic amnesia. The traumas were so severe that my health care team felt I had multiple personality disorder back many years ago. They couldn't definitively diagnoses me although I had some of the symptoms. I would wake up and be doing something and couldn't remember how I got there. I had time periods where I couldn't remember things. I haven't had any of this as an adult. I just wanted to say it is very brave of you to share your story. I have started a blog sharing mine as well. Roseann

Ruth said...

Glad to hear the EMDR is ok so far. Hope that it continues to help.

Sorry to hear that someone is using you in any way. You don't deserve it. I have encountered 'experts' and others that say I made this up to get attention. I guarantee you that I can find a lot easier ways to get attention. I started my blog to share with others that multiple personality and integration are real. I say post about it if you think it would help you sort the information or skip it if the person is one of those that close their eyes to truth because they don't want to change their thinking. Take care.

JustEliza said...

So sorry that someone feels the need to criticise you so publicly. :-( I can't think of what they might be saying, nor do I understand the purpose of doing it. But I do hope you know there is room in this world for you and the experiences you have had, even if that blogger's doors and windows are completely shut.

ellen said...

Interesting EMDR experience. I like the safe place idea. That wasn't used when I tried it, nor was music. It sounds quite gentle and nice. Not sure though that you would be able to process anything while fighting feelings of sadness - could you ask her to turn off the music? Or could you process the sad feelings with the help of EMDR? I have no idea myself.

Sorry you are being harassed and made uncomfortable. I'm glad you're blogging anyway.

tale care

Candycan said...

Hi everyone, sorry I fell of the radar a bit there!

Pan, I am so sad that your comments got lost! Stupid blogger! Urggh. I really want to know what you said!

Hi Rosie, I am glad that people are finding my blog from something that was so hurtful by jeannete. At least that's something positive out of it! I'm sorry to hear of the troubles you've had. I will have a look at your blog.

Ruth, how upsetting to be told by an 'expert' that you are making it up. How could anyone think they could prove that anyway? and like you say, why would anyone put so much energy into doing that?

Thanks for your advice Eliza, it's nice to hear there is room in the world for someone like me. Sometimes I feel like my being here is just stepping on the toes of the world.

Ellen, the safe place is an important part of EMDR, especially if going to process anything traumatic in future. The music was the EMDR, because it was going into my ears bilaterally with alternating sounds. My T is using this approach because I wasn't able to tolerate the eye movement or tapping versions due to the need to be physically close to her during it. I think aural EMDR can be used with alternating beeps but the music one seemed to be what she went for. I guess I could ask for the beeps instead but she seemed to think that the emotions that were coming up were a good thing. I hope she's right!

Anonymous said...

Was so interested to hear bout EMDR. Have heard pros and cons, but it sounds that you're having a positive experience.
I hate feeling emotions especially crying cos it scares me so much, but apparently it's a positive sign of healing(?) Doesn't feel like it to me though!
Thanks for sharing.