My Mental Health Journey: EMDR Therapy

After my first session, I plopped onto my living room chair and released everything I’ve suppressed for years. My body trembled through my hysterical sobs. It wasn’t one negative emotion that was released in that moment. It was dozens of negative emotions finally escaping my subconscious. Guilt, shame, sadness, frustration. Everything that I’ve pent up over the course of my childhood and teenage years were healed.

It wasn’t forgotten. I still experience the symptoms of my trauma induced Complex PTSD. Through my therapy treatment I cope with it in a healthier way.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that positively reprocesses trauma. It uses Rapid Eye Movement (REM) to rewire the brain’s processing system. Think of the brain as a computer system. Computers store information in its hardware. When the hardware gets damaged the computer cannot process information correctly. Trauma damages the brain. The brain cannot process and store the information in a healthy way. The hardware is broken.

I sat in front of a rectangular LED eye scanner. I was given a headset with two tappers that go on my right and left hand. The headset is used to hear the vibrations of the eye scanner and the tappers are used to feel its vibrations.

CTC Dallas Before the session begins, my therapist asks me to imagine my happy place. Once I achieved that, it was safe to remember a specific traumatic event.

Green lights moved horizontally from left to right. My therapist guided me by asking what flashbacks I saw and what emotions I felt. I narrated the memory and sensations. Sometimes crying spells would surface during our session. Other times I would feel bolts of bitterness. Emotions I never expressed before spilled out in controlled waves.

At the end of my first session I was given a required log sheet. I had to record any side effect from the moment I walked out the door until our next session.

In the beginning of my treatment I had depressive episodes for the first time. There was no memory attached to the feeling. I had days where I would do the bare minimum. I didn’t smile. I didn’t laugh. My mind was smothered in grey skies. I kept my mouth shut and stayed in my thoughts for hours.

My mind and body went through dissociative periods. It wasn’t for too long. My environment felt out of reach. Sounds were too loud or muffled. People’s words passed me by. I wasn’t in control.

I knew it was part of the process. My body is properly healing the wounds that opened again. The symptoms slowly died out after weeks of treatment. I’m more self-aware when my symptoms pop up. I’m more capable of handling them.