Soon after Ty died I started counseling. I've been in counseling ever since then. (The last 5 years) I've gone through 8 different counselors due to various reasons. 1 year ago, I found the one. The gem, the counselor I have needed. Perhaps it's also that my time had come and I was ready. When I was admitted to the PTSD program I had no idea what it would involve but I knew it was lengthy (2-3 years). I was committed to finishing it. I was more than ready to take my life back and over the last year I've learned a lot. I've changed a lot. I still struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, I still get uneasy feelings but there are other areas I have excelled in. I've found my voice, I'm setting boundaries, I listen to me and what I need (with the exception of Bee, she always comes first). I'm not in as much of a fog. I still do have more negative thoughts and feelings than happy ones but the key us, I feel. The key is I do have seconds of pure, raw, emotional happiness. Those weren't there before and though rare, they are there now.
A part of the program is EMDR therapy. It's one I had not tried prior to this program and one I didn't really know about. I was hesitant to try it. It sounded like bologna to me. How can holding two buzzers while talking about my trauma work? Really? I'll be honest I was doubtful and if I'm being very honest, I'm still kind of doubtful. But here is the thing, my session this last week was....interesting. I've only had a few, I get dizzy easily and my emotions have been so out of whack I couldnt handle the sessions so we had to focus on those first. This last session was one of the real ones. It's where we started to tackle branches that stem from the bigger issues.
I have an appointment coming up in April in an area of the hospital a lot of my trauma has taken place. I've avoided it like the plague all the while knowing I'd eventually have to, or most likely have to, set foot in there again. The time is coming and I'm scared. I'm fearful so I asked if we could work on getting me to a point where I can handle it. I know I will still be anxious but to be able to manage and actually go through with it is where I need to be. So we started the last session with being able to get me into the "b" zone (an area in the hospital) but I had a very hard time getting myself there (mentally) While going through the emdr session, I hold two buzzers in my hand (anything else makes me too dizzy so the buzzers work for me) They alternate buzzes as we work through the memory and images. She started with asking me what kind of statements I felt when thinking about the B building, some were about I am not in control, I am scared, I don't feel safe, I don't feel comfortable, I can't do it. I start with one of those and think about the B building and go from there.
I already knew I would not be able to use the same entrance that I did during the time of my trauma so I started with the way I enter to go to counseling, I envisioned myself driving there, scanning my card to park and walking into the "c" entrance. I started to take notice to the things around me about the C entrance, all the while the buzzers are buzzing in my hands. I feel pretty comfortable at first because this entrance feels safe to me. She stops the buzzers and asks me where my mind has taken me (this is how the session goes) I tell her and then we continue. But, the next time I start where I left off, my mind starts to wonder and I get side tracked. I'm picturing "c" entrance and I start to notice all the things around me. Then it hits me, to the right is where we went for Jacobs echo. My mind starts to think about Jacob. I freeze in my mind, it goes no further. It stands there and thinks about Jacob and I start to get emotional. We stop, she again asks where my mind went so I tell her. She says try to refocus on going forward and let those memories know we will deal with them at a later time. On the buzzers go again and I refocus my mind on going forth. I enter the hallway again and acknowledge Jacob, tell him we will get back to that but then BAM it hits like a ton of bricks. That hall is also the same hall I was wheeled down, sobbing, cringing with grief only moments after we found out Ty had died. They wheeled me through that hall to the delivery room. I lost it, the tears just fell. It felt so surreal, these tears weren't forced, they were just falling from my face like they weren't even mine. She stops the buzzers and asks where I was this time. I tell her and start crying, real tears, tears of actual emotion. She tells me to contain those images for another time. On the buzzers go. I again, walk into this hallway, I stand for a moment and acknowledge Ty and Jacob and tell them we will get to them. I push myself forward, all the while feeling a tug to go back to them. To run back to them, but I must go on. I sip my hot cocoa as I walk the corridor to the "b" building.
As I enter the "b" area I start to take in all the sights and sounds. I walk around, at first observing all the people but then, I'm there myself. I'm touching the tables, the cafe area, looking down into the atrium. The buzzers stop, I tell her where I went and back on the buzzers go. I notice the atrium and get curious, I want to go down there but I dare not go to the elevators, I can't get on them so I head towards the stairs. I get side tracked by the entrance to the parking garage, a hall I walked down so many times, with so much hope and so much heartache. I stop and tell it I will be back but I must go on. I make it to the stairs and down I do. I start walking around, going through the gift shop, thinking about when we brought Bee home and how I sat in a chair while I waited for Stephen to pick me up. Happy times. I walk around some more and find myself in a chair. The buzzers stop, then back on they go. I continue in my chair, observing the Amish family. I switch from being present day to being pregnant with Bee. Fat, greasy and so uncomfortable. Heart broken but hopeful. I take notice that my pregnant self is hungry so I must make it up to the cafeteria to eat. But being hugely pregnant I cannot take the stairs so for a brief second, I get on the elevators I can't stand. I make it up to the cafeteria and get some food. The buzzers stop.
On they go again and I find myself leaving the cafeteria, skipping the elevators and being brought right into the room when I was pregnant with Bee. Thoughts remind me I was right next to where they take the bodies out and how one of them was a small casket, heartbroken for the child and their family. I think about how lonely I was in the hospital with Bee, but she was healthy and we were so close to meeting her. I remember that at first I had requested to change rooms due to a not so hot shower. The room they wanted to switch me too was right next to a delivery room so I said no but then instantly that brought me to being pregnant with Jacob and being in that room with him. Instantly I almost threw up, the wave of nausea hit like a ton of bricks, out of nowhere. I have to stop, I have to change my thought to Bee and how funny she was in the morning until the nauseous feeling subsides. It works, my mind wanders to that morning. The buzzers stop and I take a moment to breathe. On they go again but my mind cant switch back to present day, it is stuck in the hospital being pregnant. The session ends and I come back into the room.
That is how a typical session goes and will go. Buzzers buzz and stop, buzz and stop while I take myself through memories, spaces, emotions. She prompts me if need be but generally lets my mind take itself where it needs to go. She reminds me to focus on the task of getting myself comfortable with the "b" zone and letting those other memories be contained until we are further in.
I may have not believed how much EMDR would work before but the last session proved to me, in a very weird way, that it does bring things up that are trapped. Its not like I forgot about the hallway with Ty, but its not been on my mind. Taking me back to that time, that area brought it up and the tears, I couldnt have stopped then if I tried. The true sadness about that hallway related to Ty was real, it was raw, I couldnt have hit it if I tried. It wasn't an ugly cry, it was just a gentle stream of true emotions. It was almost freeing. The nausea that came out of nowhere when I thought about being pregnant with Jacob in the hospital and how quickly it came on but also how quickly it went away when I changed my thought. None of that was planned, none of that is my normal day to day happenings. Something in that emdr session brought it about so I begin to be hopeful that maybe, just maybe this will work. Maybe my constant nausea lies deep in memory.
If you are still reading this, thanks. I just wanted to share how an emdr session for me goes. I never knew what to expect which made me nervous and also skeptical but after last session, I do think there is something to it. I may still be skeptical but I'll keep doing it. The thing you should know is that emdr sessions can have side effects. Dizziness, nausea, exhaustion ( I get sooooo tired and for some reason cold) and irritability for a few days, It doesnt happen to everyone but I wish someone had told me prior about all these things it can cause. I'm still going to do it because I feel it is helpful, I just know not to have big plans after a session and more self care. I look forward to uncovering more in my mind to help me heal.