Saturday, 11 October 2014

I am worthy

I’ve decided to write a follow-up post about my experience of EMDR therapy. I want to share my experience as much as possible in the hope that other survivors will become aware of how beneficial EMDR can be. I didn’t know anything about EMDR prior to my counsellor suggesting it but when I did my own research, I found it quite fascinating.
I’m going to try to analyse my own case. I was sexually abused repeatedly over many years so my natural coping mechanisms became overloaded. As a result, the memories remained frozen in my brain and unprocessed, in a raw form. Every time I heard the perpetrator's name I would experience painful feelings such as panic and anger, those feelings were constantly triggered and I was unable to live in the present. EMDR enabled me to process the traumatic memories in a natural way and has enabled me to live in the present again.
In order to identify the aspects of the memories to be processed, I had to choose a statement that expressed a negative self-belief associated with the event, I chose: “I am worthless.” I then had to think of a positive self-statement that I would rather believe: “I am worthy.”
Towards the end of my course of therapy, I went away for a short break. One day, I was standing at the top of a mountain and shouted at the top of my lungs: “I am worthy!” If I ever have periods of low self-esteem in the future, I will visualise that image and how I felt. The fact that I was at the top of a mountain makes it even more significant because I was up high and feeling strong, mentally and physically.
Since finishing my EMDR therapy I feel that my eyes have really been opened. I’ve realised many things about myself and the way others treat me. Due to the fact that I believed I was worthless, it seems that some people also believed it. I’ve realised that I put up with a lot as a child and stayed quiet due to fear. As an adult I’ve often adopted the same coping mechanism because it’s what I know best, however, I shouldn’t have to live in fear as I did nothing wrong. What I now know is that I deserve respect in the same way others do, and I am worthy. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

EMDR - my experience

Over the past 4 months I’ve been having counselling sessions due to the fact that I’ve been involuntarily living in the past. The biggest trigger I have had to deal with has been mention of the abuser, which has often caught me unawares. For most of the year I have been on tenterhooks, wondering when the perpetrator’s name would be mentioned. Due to these common occurrences, I significantly lost confidence and had low self-esteem.
I’ve often wondered why the human body can heal itself from physical wounds whereas mental wounds are harder to heal. That’s why counselling of any kind is extremely beneficial and being in control of our mental health is very important. I am so grateful to my counsellor who suggested EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing). EMDR is quite amazing as it assists the natural healing ability of the body.
EMDR is based on eye movements similar to those during REM sleep. This is recreated by watching the therapist’s finger moving backwards and forwards, or in my case, the therapist tapping my right and left legs. After each session, I would report back on the memories, images or feelings that came up. After a number of sessions, the memories became more neutral and distant. I started to feel I was healing and regaining my confidence.
When I first started the therapy, I was in quite a state and traumatic memories were at the forefront of my mind. I had difficulty sleeping, relaxing and at times felt like I was going out of my mind. Over the weeks, random memories would sometimes crop up when I was at home and I experienced flashbacks. I also felt very tired and had a poor memory due to constant thoughts and memories that were going through my mind.
EMDR is amazing because it helps process raw memories in a natural way. Although it can be quite painful having to deal with disturbing thoughts, it does get easier. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to graphically talk about my past like one would in talking therapy. Instead the brain does the work for you and helps you to heal. Obviously this wouldn’t be possible without a trained therapist who is there to guide you along the way. I am truly grateful to my therapist for the help she gave me which enabled me to overcome the intrusive memories I was frequently experiencing.
I believe that EMDR doesn’t work for everyone and I was prepared for that eventuality. However, I had an optimistic outlook and went into it with an open mind. I think that because I believed in the therapy and the fact that it would work, it enabled my mind to help me as required. Now that I have got through another difficult period in my life, I feel ready and confident to move on in peace.