Can't feel any emotion on images during EMDR

PTSDisaster

Confident
This morning I had an EMDR session. Once I walked in all my emotions around my triggers were gone. I could 'look' at the image in my head but it didn't give any emotion or feelings inside me. When I was describing the whole situation in detail, I felt emotion but as soon as I started crying and feeling, the whole image seemed to disappear and 2 seconds later I felt empty and emotionless again. It was really frustrating. It feels a bit like staring at the sun and then having to focus on something and only seeing dark spots. My therapist told me it is not uncommon to have this reaction. Someone else experienced something like this?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I haven't done EDMR. But yes: emotional numbing and me go way back.

Sometimes I make a conscious decision not to have emotions. Other times, it just happens. And usually that is around talking about trauma. It's the only way I can get the trauma out and put words to it.
.what does happen though, is that the emotions come out later, maybe a few hours or few days later. In ways that I can't necessarily relate to talking about the trauma, but being a bit more on my recovery journey, I now can.
So if you are like me with that, maybe prepare for emotions to come later and have some techniques to manage that ready at your finger tips.

Well done though for recognising the difference between feeling emotions and not feeling emotions. (I never knew this!).
Although my T says feeling nothing is a feeling. She says it's communication of something.
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
This has happened to me twice. Once I was looking at a trauma and everything went black. Another time it was floating back and an entire year of my life is gone (age 6). It’s like that book in the library is in a locked cabinet.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i have not done formal emdr but this was a recurring theme in my amnesia therapy. many years later, my repressed memories still seldom resurface in one bright light moment, not even the ones i have previously untangled in therapy. i've worked through those memories, but i still don't invite them into my daily thoughts. i am still following the advice of one of my early therapists who believed rushing the process would amount to retraumatizing myself. instead of treating the recall like a race, we worked on the self-trust to be gentle with myself and patient with the process.
 

Renly

MyPTSD Pro
I experience this same thing. This is the most frustrating thing for me during EMDR. You have to be able to access your emotions within your window of tolerance for it to work. Some days I fall out of my window and we can’t process further. Other days I walk into therapy emotionally numb and we can process anything because I feel nothing. I’m trying not to be disappointed during these times because I really want to process everything and this feels like a set back. But, my emotions eventually come back and I can get to processing again during some other session in the future. The way I understand it is that the emotional numbing is your brains way of protecting you from trauma…even though now it no longer serves you while trying to process your trauma. I’ve been doing EMDR for about 5 months now and it’s happened to me a handful of times. I expect there will be more.

instead of treating the recall like a race, we worked on the self-trust to be gentle with myself and patient with the process.
This is what I’m trying to do with EMDR processing. I want to race through it because what I have been able to process has given amazing results so far and I don’t want to be in pain anymore. But it truly is not a race. I’m trying to slow down even though I really don’t want to…but forcing it doesn’t work anyway so I gotta just flow with the process. Trauma’s effect on our nervous systems is no joke.
 

PTSDisaster

Confident
Thank you all so much for your replies!
I thought it might be impossible for me to do EMDR and got a bit hopeless about therapy. But I'm very relieved that it's not just me.

I experience this same thing. This is the most frustrating thing for me during EMDR. You have to be able to access your emotions within your window of tolerance for it to work. Some days I fall out of my window and we can’t process further. Other days I walk into therapy emotionally numb and we can process anything because I feel nothing. I’m trying not to be disappointed during these times because I really want to process everything and this feels like a set back. But, my emotions eventually come back and I can get to processing again during some other session in the future. The way I understand it is that the emotional numbing is your brains way of protecting you from trauma…even though now it no longer serves you while trying to process your trauma. I’ve been doing EMDR for about 5 months now and it’s happened to me a handful of times. I expect there will be more.


This is what I’m trying to do with EMDR processing. I want to race through it because what I have been able to process has given amazing results so far and I don’t want to be in pain anymore. But it truly is not a race. I’m trying to slow down even though I really don’t want to…but forcing it doesn’t work anyway so I gotta just flow with the process. Trauma’s effect on our nervous systems is no joke.
This is exactly the way i feel!!! I also want to race through anything and I always rather want to have 1 extremely tough year instead of 5 mildly hard years so I can get it over with. I think this might be the reason why my brain blocks emotion, so I dó have to stand still and accept that not everything can be forced just like you said. Thank you so much!!!
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
yep -- totally normal
If we get too close to things my brain switches off. Just....done.
Can't get it back no matter how hard I try. Usually it means I'm overwhelmed and a nasty bout of dissociation is kicking in.
So we either switch to something else or just chat about "safe" subjects until my brain clears up or the appt time is over.

EMDR takes as long as it takes - you can't rush thru it. That was a huge issue for me because I'm goal oriented and figured this would be the same way. Have memory, do emdr, memory no longer a problem, done in my timeline, all is good

Ya. Nope
EMDR will just laugh at you for making plans! 😁
 

PTSDisaster

Confident
yep -- totally normal
If we get too close to things my brain switches off. Just....done.
Can't get it back no matter how hard I try. Usually it means I'm overwhelmed and a nasty bout of dissociation is kicking in.
So we either switch to something else or just chat about "safe" subjects until my brain clears up or the appt time is over.

EMDR takes as long as it takes - you can't rush thru it. That was a huge issue for me because I'm goal oriented and figured this would be the same way. Have memory, do emdr, memory no longer a problem, done in my timeline, all is good

Ya. Nope
EMDR will just laugh at you for making plans! 😁
Yes but it's so frustrating! I think it's time to learn that I can't control how much time it'll cost to heal and just accept it's going to take a lot of time
 

Friday

Moderator
I think it's time to learn that I can't control how much time it'll cost to heal and just accept it's going to take a lot of time
It may not take a long time.

For example? 6-8 weeks can seem like a loooooong time in a cast with a broken leg. But you take the cast off at 2 weeks? Or 4 weeks? Or try to walk without crutches, or run before walking? SNAP! So what would have only take. 8 weeks outpatient, in a cast? Turns into 4 years of multiple surgeries, many many many casts, months inpatient, all from the same simple fracture that was pushed too hard, too fast, too soon.

It’s a bizarre facet of healing, physical/mental/emotional, that slowing down moves things along waaaaaay faster than trying to speed things up.

Slow is smooth.
Smooth is fast.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
Yes but it's so frustrating! I think it's time to learn that I can't control how much time it'll cost to heal and just accept it's going to take a lot of time
yep.
Really, really frustrating.
I've been doing it for years and there has been a lot of self-hate along the way because I often feel like I'm failing. Then my t reminds me of how much crap we are working thru and it sort of helps. But. Sigh. It still just sucks.

The only reason I stay with it is because once it works, once it switches off that panic button, it is freaking amazing! Plus it's been an incredible lesson in patience 😁
 

Renly

MyPTSD Pro
once it works, once it switches off that panic button
This is why I’ve wanted to rush through. It’s amazing once a panic button switches off… and there’s so many more than need to be turned off!

It’s a bizarre facet of healing, physical/mental/emotional, that slowing down moves things along waaaaaay faster than trying to speed things up.

Slow is smooth.
Smooth is fast.
This is what I’ve been trying to keep in mind. Small gains really are big gains. Also, remembering that the speed of tackling things is largely out of my control if my brain decides to shut down, helps.
 

furiouscurve

New Here
yep -- totally normal
If we get too close to things my brain switches off. Just....done.
Can't get it back no matter how hard I try. Usually it means I'm overwhelmed and a nasty bout of dissociation is kicking in.
So we either switch to something else or just chat about "safe" subjects until my brain clears up or the appt time is over.

EMDR takes as long as it takes - you can't rush thru it. That was a huge issue for me because I'm goal oriented and figured this would be the same way. Have memory, do emdr, memory no longer a problem, done in my timeline, all is good

Ya. Nope
EMDR will just laugh at you for making plans! 😁
This is my experience too!

Still working on not being frustrated when the emotional numbness kicks in and ends an EMDR session.
 
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