Mental Health stories of battling PTSD and depression:  EMDR report #2

Mental Health stories of battling PTSD and depression: EMDR report #2

 Walking through my favorite cemetery as I dictate this article.

Walking through my favorite cemetery as I dictate this article.

Mental Health stories of battling PTSD and depression: EMDR report #2

AN UPDATED EMDR analogy based on my experience

So far the billboard sign analogy for EMDR is fairly accurate.   It really is like billboards of memories are coming up to you, and you can look at them.   What they didn't tell me is that there are emotions attached to those billboard signs and they are not going to make sense, and apparently, they don't have to.   

MENTAL HEALTH STORY #2 INTRO

ANOTHER EMDR STORY

I just finished up my EMDR  therapy session and this one was much more intense than my first EMDR session.   I had actually forgotten what the how the first EMDR session went, fortunately, I blogged about it last week and you can review it here.

THE STEPS OF THE EMDR SESSION

Following the therapist's finger moving side to side for about 15-20 seconds I am trying to think about a specific memory of my past.   After the 15-20 seconds, I am asked what I am feeling, or if any other memories are coming up.    I respond to whatever is going on in my brain and the process starts over again.   Seems strange huh?   This is a super watered down version so if you want to brush up on what EMDR is all about you can find plenty of books on Amazon.    Of course, if you make a purchase I get a small percentage of the sale which helps me with paying for this site.

STORY OF HOW THIS EMDR SESSION STARTS

My therapy session started out the same way as it did last week and for the first part, I was fighting it with disassociation.  My therapist had to stop and ask whether or not I was disassociating which I clearly was.  For me it feels like is a very clear block or blankness in my mind whenever I am faced with emotional stress.   It happens every time my wife and I get into a heated conversation, or I should say when my wife gets into a heated conversation at me, or she is showing emotions in general.   I am unable to think in that moment.   No words or thoughts come to me at all.

She stop the session to reiterate that I was not going to show crazy emotions or anything like that which I don’t feel like I was worried about that but it seemed to be something she felt she needed to sell me. 

I asked my therapist what actions I was outwardly showing to make her think that I was disassociating so I could understand and try to look at them from an outsiders perspective. She was sort of stumped by this but from my understanding of her explanation was that since she sees so many clients with similar telltale signs of dissociation.

Here are the signs of disassociation that she gave me

  • Shallow breathing.

  • I was not moving my eyes when I was supposed to be following her fingers.

  • Clenched jaw

  • Tightness of shoulders

After struggling through each motion iteration ( following her finger back and forth for a bit then asked what was coming into my mind ) thoughts started popping into my head.   I am communicating all of these thoughts and memories to my therapist as they are coming to me.   

My first thought I was that I was gaming EMDR.

Another motion iteration

No, I am trying to understand it not game it.

I started to bite my tongue at each outer sway of her hand which is something I do when I am driving down the road and see road signs and mile markers.

EMDR memories finally start flowing

The next thing I know a story memory of my dad and I traveling to Nebraska comes popping into my head.   My parents have been divorced since  I was 7, and I would go visit him in the summer and for Christmas.   I was seeing reflective road markers passing me by then I was kicked in the gut by an intense feeling of sadness.   

I am in my dad's car, it is Christmas and Felice Navidad is playing on the radio.   This was literally all the memory was and I could barely talk about the memory without breaking down in tears.

Fighting dissociation 

Normally I would have just blocked it out of my mind the emissions would have passed, and externally my therapist would have had no clue.   Instead, I felt like my mind was a fish that had just taken a piece of bait with a big ole hook in it.   My conscious self, the hook, my 30+ years of subconscious dissociation,  the fish trying to do everything in its power to get off that line.  Fighting with all its might to break the line attached to such heavy emotions.

My body was shaking as I was trying to keep myself present.   Eventually, the feeling passed and I was back in the room with my therapist.   I didn't really even make eye contact with her.  Maybe that is why she stays to the left of my vision when this is all taking place.

I was rather confused as to why these two things were tied together then I had a faint picture of being sad that I wasn’t at home for Christmas because my dad's house never seemed like home.  Maybe I was homesick.   Was the biting of my tongue every time a sign went by a form of dissociation to stop me from feeling the sadness?  

Another memory flew into my mind.   I was in Iraq on the same command post I wrote about In my smells like gunpowder military story

I am on Cop Cleary in Iraq with my team leader waiting to go disarm IEDs.

More intense emotions flood my body, and my subconscious is back on the line trying to get away.   Then other billboards of pictures of the command of post itself, but luckily these had no emotions.

After the EMDR session

After the EMDR session was over.  We did a grounding exercise and I felt excited and at everything that I just experienced.  While in talk therapy with my last counselor it took me six months for me to even come close to shedding a tear and when I did it was a whisper.  In three sessions of the EMDR I cracked and released real emotions and I feel like I am actually making progress.

I have been dictating this article as I take a nice long walk to the library to pick up some books for my spouse, reflecting on the therapy session and enjoying the beautiful weather we are currently experiencing in Pittsburgh, PA. I still have to finish this article go over to my other house to continue renovation which is an entire story all in itself. Having a major renovation project while being depressed for the most part it’s actually been a positive experience One which I would eventually like to write about if I ever make around to it

 Some inspiration I found while walking and dictating this article. fI will be making some bracelets out of silver and glass in the near future.

Some inspiration I found while walking and dictating this article. fI will be making some bracelets out of silver and glass in the near future.

The military ruined my ankles, but I found support to help

The military ruined my ankles, but I found support to help

How I trick myself into exercising with depression