Just another EMDR thread. With added scepticism

HealingMama

Sponsor
Because my main issue is cognitive distortions based on my no shits given approach to trauma. So it's been suggested as a way to break through my avoidance.

And as for digging around to find issues, I am not. And I find the implication judgemental, even though I assume it's from a lack of knowledge about my situation. My issues exist, I can't get past my defence mechanisms. So emdr was suggested
Sounds like maybe your provider should be using the "level of urge to avoid" scale rather than the SUDS scale, or maybe some IFS to separate protectors from trauma holding parts.

As others said, EMDR is hard for those who are used to avoiding the affect, images and sensations, and then are faced with them, sometimes full force. EMDR can also be hard if you're used to mentalizing or intellectualizing everything, bc it can make you deal with the body. If you hide from the body by staying in your head this can be rough. And also, it can cause dissociation. Hard to process traumas when you're not present at all.

I tend to present to therapists as healthier and better functioning than I am, and I recall working with a new person, specifically requesting EMDR. And we went too fast the first time, I had to sit in my car for 30 minutes or more bc I was too dissociated to drive. That's having the body of knowledge about how EMDR works, what it feels like, not being intentionally avoidant of my emotions, etc. Even knowing what I know I went too fast, didn't have enough safety, and it messed things up. If I had any consistent self harm tendencies it could exacerbate those too.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
I guess my question is more, what makes EMDR so difficult for some people?
I would never, ever, ever, consider doing EMDR without a T. Even with one there is a lot to learn before you start real therapy.

I was where you seem to be. No conscious or accessible memories of trauma - at all. Full blown PTSD symptoms. Through EMDR those memories came back, in the middle of the night, between therapy sessions and they would not go back in the box. If I hadn't had my T for help dealing with them I would probably have walked into traffic or something.

That's part of the deal with EMDR. Stuff just shows up. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. It can leave you non functioning and unable to deal with those memories or everyday life.

That's just the trauma part.

Reprocessing memories I will liken to a computer. Its a program running in the background and you don't know how many resources its using, It could be 20% it could be 90% and on top of that you are running all the usual day to day stuff. Dealing with how much you can do with PTSD is hard - this is hellish. No idea what set things off sometimes. All you can do is hang on, avoid stress and anxiety and hope tomorrow is better.
 

Chris-duck

MyPTSD Pro
Hmmm…i’m curious as to why you’re allowing the reactions of others affect you to the extent you’re taking the time to write about it.
I'm interested in why an unregistered member would care enough to post in this thread in particular. Like I said, I'll decide based on me and my Ts perspectives, but others experiences are something to take into consideration. As it stands, I have received all input I consider useful here so why are you affected to the extent where you had to reply?
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
Hmmm…i’m curious as to why you’re allowing the reactions of others affect you to the extent you’re taking the time to write about

there is a common thought in modern western world that we don’t learn through shared stories. That to share experience is self interested or to ask for the experience is others is to lack independence of thought.

but shared experiences are and have been a way of learning through human experience- art, literature, film all employ experiencing the point of view of others to challenge or educate our own feelings and opinions. Many religions have books based on stories of the experiences of others, and stories within those.

Hearing the point of view of others doesn’t mean we are ‘allowing opinion of others’ to do anything. For those that learn this way they can be self challenging, and perspective broadening.
 

Freida

Sponsor
So today I'm a huge believer in EMDR! 😀

I know I blathered on about it in my journal but figured I'd put it here too.
I have had horrible, horrilbe survivors guilt that simply refused to budge for the entire five years I've been in therapy. People were dead, it was my fault, I didn't prevent it, blah blah blah

Then t asked me to walk thru the memory again, with emdr.
Where do I feel it in my body? Can't breathe
Why?
And holy crap.
I finally saw it for what it was -- I wasn't responsible for what happened to the others.
I did try to get help
I didn't fail - the help just didn't come
And with that?
All the survivor guilt is just --- gone
It's the weirdest thing when emdr works. It's not even like I can look back on it and try to recreate it
Nope....brain just smacks me and says "yo dumbass, why do you think you were at fault?"

So - there ya go!
 

Freida

Sponsor
It's really, really hard to explain
Maybe this

In regular exposure you look and look and look until the memory becomes old news and you kind of get bored with it. It's still there, it still sucks, but you can live with it.

In EMDR you start with a body memory (can't breathe), then a negative thought (I'm to blame),
the you revisit it to change how you feel about it. It's not becoeming accustomed to the memory and not be bothered as badly. It's actually changing how you feel when you think about the memory.

Exposure --I would still blame myself - but I'm ok with it and I can push it away
EMDR - I no longer blame myself and I can let it go, and never think about it again. I've changed the actual thought process around the memory

Does that help?
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
In regular exposure you look and look and look until the memory becomes old news and you kind of get bored with it. It's still there, it still sucks, but you can live with it.

In EMDR you start with a body memory (can't breathe), then a negative thought (I'm to blame),
the you revisit it to change how you feel about it. It's not becoeming accustomed to the memory and not be bothered as badly. It's actually changing how you feel when you think about the memory.
Right, it changes how you feel about the memory. It changes how you perceive the events. Once it starts it files through your memories and changes feelings.

Rage for instance. I was having a bad time with anger towards a lot of people who didn't follow up on "something is wrong". Of course my abuser was in there too. I notice now how those attitudes have changed. My abuser for instance. Was she fresh out of school and she panicked? Was it something that she went home and cried herself to sleep about for weeks? I don't know. What I do know is the heat has gone out of my anger toward her. Anger toward a lot of thing has subsided in the last couple months since we worked on it in therapy.

The one thing that did throw me for a while is that processing goes on...it's using brain power and you get to guess what resources you have left to live with on any given day. It's difficult and frustrating at times to do simple things and step over the line. Over time I would say I am doing better but there are still things that give me trouble, like anxiety over medical stuff.
 

Juso

MyPTSD Pro
But what's the difference between that and normal exposure?
Normal exposure therapy has to do with the gradual weakening of a conditioned response. And EMDR to an extent, too. But EMDR mainly works by rewiring your brain in a way "normal" exposure therapy can not.

This is a simplified explanation:

Normal exposure therapy

--> Associating an anxiety inducing stimulus with the absence of anxiety. This works by being gradually exposed to that stimulus and by sitting in that feeling of fear until its gone. After some time, the anxiety inducing stimulus isn't anxiety inducing anymore because the previous conditioning (stimulus = fear) has been extinguished.

--> It rewires the brain because the association between a stimulus and a response becomes weakened.


EMDR therapy

--> Associating an anxiety inducing stimulus with safety. This works by being gradually exposed to that stimulus and by being constantly reminded that you're safe (unlike in the past - because back then, that stimulus was associated with danger). After some time, the anxiety inducing stimulus isn't anxiety inducing anymore since the previous conditioning (stimulus = danger) has been extinguished.

--> It rewires the brain because the association between a stimulus and a response becomes weakened.

--> It ALSO rewires the brain because traumatic memories are being reprocessed. People are not quite sure how this works in the brain. There are some educated guesses though. And many of them can be true at the same time.
Educated guess nr. 1: Another educated guess is that EMDR changes maladaptive neural networks by connecting the traumatic memory with new information. That way, memories or parts of you can "arrive" in the present moment and as a result, you are able to integrate those memories or parts of you. (Memories or parts of you that are not integrated are the sources of many posttraumatic symptoms).
Educated guess nr. 2: while recalling a traumatic memory, it gets put into your working memory. However, the bilateral stimulation also takes up space in your working memory. And because your working memory has limited capacity, it will not be able to hold all the negative emotions that are associated with the traumatic memory. Which means that as soon as it gets put back into your long term memory storage, those negative emotions will have flattened considerably.
This article writes about many more of those educated guesses: An Integrative Model for the Neural Mechanism of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)


I know that your problem is more the avoidance/dissociation than the negative emotions. But EMDR is good at stirring things up. I'm sure that if you keep on trying, some negative emotions will surface sooner or later.
 

reallydown

MyPTSD Pro
Hey,

So new T suggested EMDR which I'm meant to start on Monday (or start the start of EMDR like practice tapping (cos video) and safety stuff), and I'm up for it, and that's not really my issue. I'm mostly like "huh" about what the big deal is. She says it can sometimes bypass avoidance stuff, which awesome, let's do it. People here have said it's awful and shouldn't be done alone, which has obviously made me attempt it alone and I found it.. boring. So I guess my question isn't so much "what was your experience?" cos I have heard loads of experiences that haven't been *my* experience, cos majority of experiences I've heard have been like "omg if you do it alone it can go so wrong and the world will explode and you'll die".

I guess my question is more, what makes EMDR so difficult for some people? Or make them think it can't be done alone? Or yeah, basically, what's the big deal?

And whatever answers won't really change the part where I'm willing to do it, cos like yeah, options are low, and nobody has successfully bypassed my avoidance yet, including myself so nowt much to lose. Just curiosity.
I have only ever tried the tapping thing a university counselor showed me but I did it on my own and ended up having the most intense flashbacks that night so I never did it again...even though that, in and of itself, was probably not a bad thing. So I guess I am adding my experience to those who have already mentioned that the freakouts can be pretty intense
 
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