Yes, it’s been literally months since I posted anything. My writing light has dimmed. And it’s been a couple hard months, going from normal bad to very bad and back and forth. But not much new.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980s that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The way I describe it to people is something about remembering a traumatic event, talking about how it makes you feel right in that moment, and then remembering a pleasant event while getting an external stimulation (eyes following a light moving side to side, or holding two devices that alternate giving you a slight vibration, or even tapping your shoulders with your hands in a repetitive movement. Once the stimulation is done, blink hard three times and talk about how you feel about the traumatic event again. Rinse, Lather, Repeat.
I got this therapist as a reference from my personal therapist. At first meeting I wasn’t sure about her, but she seemed ok. I was pretty amped up, so that can make judging someone difficult. The second meeting I was actually more jacked up, but I really started to like her. She was funny. She’s fairly old, but dresses well with enough style but not so much it’s generationally inappropriate. But the thing that cemented her as a therapist I could really like was when we were talking about how I was feeling at the end of that second session. One of the things I mentioned was being scared I wasn’t doing it right and it wouldn’t make me any better. She looked over her glasses and said “And scared you’ll get better, right?” And that’s not a concept many people understand, much less will call me out on it.
I had my first proper session, and we started super light. I actually went to my list of bad memories and couldn’t find one that didn’t mess with me just by reading it, so I just picked a memory that wasn’t so horrible, but memorable.
I had trouble coming up with the “pleasant” memory, but rather than trying to think of a memory, I just went into my internal pile of stories. As a storyteller (before it became hip) I’m thinking this part will be the easy part. I even used a memory that wasn’t a happy story, but one about my father that literally made me cry, but it was a happy sad. Sort of.
I did feel different after a few iterations, and it’s difficult to describe. When we started, I felt like the little kid who was feeling so much horrible in the memory. After the process, I felt less connected to the kid, and more like I was looking at the memory.
We only did two memories, and it took a lot of the “happy” stories to do that. So we’ll see how things go in future sessions. Unfortunately it’s almost 3 weeks until my next, but we’re trying to get me into a weekly rhythm. That and I’m short listed for filling cancellations.
I was a mess going in. Disheartened, hopeless, anxious, scared, wanting to flee the office. When I left I was still a good mess, but I guess it all felt just a tiny bit lighter.