Before I tell you about my last visit to the psychologist, I want to thank those who have left comments on my last post. There are no words enough to tell you what your support mean to me; what it means that you take the time to comment on my least sexy posts. Thank you all!

Of course the psychologist touched on my last assignment, which was to frequently look at a series of images of my mom, over and over again. Only once or twice I felt any kind of emotion, and one thing I definitely don’t want is to look at images of mom without feeling. I told the psychologist that after my last meeting with her and noticing that I seem to switch off my emotion, I knew I had to decide where I want to go with the sessions. I even considered stopping, I admitted.

Then I went to my GP…

I never know how to ask for things. I always think I’m exaggerating. That I should just ‘act normal and carry on’. These thoughts were what caused me to repeatedly think I should stop with the sessions at the psychologist. I told her this. Told her about my visit to the GP. The moment I started talking about the months before mom passed away, I started crying again. (Just typing this sentence makes my eyes sting with tears.)

I repeated the words my doctor used: trauma, PTSD, EMDR.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy in which the person being treated is asked to recall distressing images while generating one type of bilateral sensory input, such as side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping. It is included in several guidelines for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The way it might work is uncertain.

EMDRI know it’s stupid, but I felt ridiculous telling her what the doc said. However, my tears when trying to convey his message, trying to explain why he suggested asking for EMDR… that alone should have been enough to see how right he was.

It was enough.

She confirmed that I had to go through the process. I needed the time to think. I needed the first writing assignments to start the process. To unlock my thoughts. To understand what it is I need.

But writing wasn’t helping anymore. Being a writer doesn’t mean that this line of treatment will be a success, is more or less what she said.

“We are going to do the EMDR treatment,” she said.

She explained that during the EMDR treatment she will ask me to recall memories of the months before my mother died. There are three memories she could start with: the first, the last or the one troubling me the most. Her method is to start with the latter.

The psychologist gave me a pen and a piece of paper, and asked me to draw a timeline of the months before mom passed away. On this timeline I had to indicate those moments that stood out, the images I frequently see in my head. The moments I put on the timeline were:

  1. the message that she might have lung cancer;
  2. the bronchoscopy where she came back from crying;
  3. the day she ended up in the ICU on the machines;
  4. the day she went to the care hotel, and we realized she might never go home again;
  5. her 70th birthday, celebrated in hospital while gravely ill with pneumonia and septic shock;
  6. the day she was transferred to the hospice;
  7. the morning of the day she died, and knowing and seeing her fight with death has started;
  8. her passing.

I had to give each of these memories a number from 1 to 10, where 10 is the memory causing me the most pain. Three of those memories – numbers 3,6 and 7 ended up with 9.5 points. I then had to number these three in order of severity. The order was: 7 – 6 – 3.
Her next question was to write down things I remember of number 7 (the morning of the day she died, and knowing and seeing her fight with death has started). I wrote down five things, and had to put those in order of which is causing me the most pain, where 1 is the most, and 5 the least. The things I wrote down were:

  1. I didn’t dare to touch mom or speak to her;
  2. the moment I saw her when I woke that morning, I knew the death process had started;
  3. the last time mom asked for water, and how childlike she was;
  4. seeing mom fighting physically against her passing;
  5. the fact that I distanced myself from my feelings and dealt with it in a clinical way.

Before the end of this month I have a new appointment with her, which will be the first EMDR session and where we will start with the thing bothering me the most. Why? Why didn’t I dare to talk to my mom that last day? Why didn’t I dare to touch her? Why was I so clinical about what happened? Why? Why? Why? So many questions. She will get me to talk about the memory, get me to be IN the memory, and then I will have to follow her fingers while she asks me questions…

We have two sessions scheduled, two weeks apart.

EMDR seems to be a very successful treatment, and it’s not clear yet why and how it really works.

I don’t care about the why and the how.

I just want it to work.

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© Rebel’s Notes

Wicked Wednesday

21 thoughts on “PTSD & EMDR

  1. You are (and always have been) a true inspiration to me, Marie. Your ability to share your struggles and be vulnerable on your site, both in words and images, encourages me to do the same. I struggle with my voice, not because I don’t know what say but because I am afraid of how I will be received.

    So thank you, again, for sharing. I totally can relate with your vision of yourself “exaggerating” and that you should just act normal (whatever that is) and move on. I do the same…often chastising myself for having feelings at all.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Brigit. When I write these things, I write them as if I am telling it to my best friend, but it also helps me to order my thoughts. I still feel like I am exaggerating and should just push all of this aside and carry on with my life…

  2. I think you are brilliant and courageous for not only embracing therapy but for sharing your journey with it on your blog. I’m not much of hugger but these posts alone are enough to make me want to give you a massive hug!

  3. I read this earlier today and needed to come back to it. I’m really grateful to you for sharing this, as EMDR may be on my horizon at the end of this year, for different reasons. I felt tearful reading this as the prospect scares me, but thank you for explaining how it went. I applaud your courage for doing this work as it is so very difficult, but I can also understand the need to just have something work. I’m praying it does, and I’ll read with much interest how it continues for you. Xx

  4. I also have been thinking about my father’s death in this context. While emotionally draining for you, if seems as if confronting your feelings will help you in the end. Sending love to you Marie xx

  5. The treatment sounds intriguing but obviously, it will be very emotional and draining – I so admire your courage to work through all of this and send u hugs and wishes x

  6. I admit this was incredibly hard for me to read, Marie. I had tears in my eyes as I did. It is all so raw and painful. And I understand it all so well.

    You are so damn courageous. My heart goes out to you, dear. I hope you can feel the strength I am sending to you across the continents.

  7. Big hugs, Rebel. You’re so damn brave to try to confront all of this. I still think about my father’s death and it’s impact. This therapy sounds very interesting. I’ll be interested in reading the outcome for you emotionally.

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