Friday, October 30, 2009

The lingering past

Wow. This EMDR therapy is powerful. Again today the session was just incredible.

Trauma (whether it's capital "T" Trauma like rape or PTSD from war experiences, or the more subtle but long-term and pervasive small "t" trauma, as in my case) often doesn't get completely processed in the brain, probably because there's some kind of chemical release that interferes with normal processing at the time of the event. The neurons associated with those traumatic memories get stuck in the amygdala, part of the limbic system, and when a later event triggers that trauma-memory, it can come bursting out of the amygdala with a lot of power to influence feelings 20, 30, 50 years later.

I had processed so much of my growing-up years already, but this methodology helps me to re-experience episodic memories emotionally and thus "break them apart," as M said. I re-live the feeling of them, and then M helped me re-process them.

Amazing. I could almost feel the shift happening, the new perspective forming.

As I process the memories, I wear headphones in which I hear beaping, alternating between the right, and then the left, side of the brain... apparently the alternating beeps help the episodic memories arise.

I'm utterly exhausted this afternoon, and this will probably continue into the weekend, if last week was any indication.

Worth it, though. Totally worth it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Busy plateaus

The wedding was wonderful. The weekend before that, our Mary's Hope Conference on spiritual healing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse turned out to be a wonderful success. And for three or four weekends before that, I was struggling with bronchitis and asthma and flu. And, of course, every weekend since September has been a working weekend for teaching my class at the seminary.

I'm pooped.

Five more classes to teach. Thanksgiving. Advent and the holidays.

How to stay centered and present, and not just keep my eye toward a future with a vacation in it? After all, staying centered and present makes every moment a vacation.

It helps that I'm seeing my therapist regularly again. When I was sick I had an emotional meltdown--that's what prompted me to make the first appointment. I hadn't seen M, my therapist, in over a year, during which time she'd been trained in EMDR so she invited me to consider coming regularly again for a while to try this new method.

Working with memories, EMDR simultaneously stimulates both sides of the brain to kind of re-wire those neural patterns that developed as a child reacting to various stresses and hurts (my words). I had my doubts, but I trust M so much that I was very willing to give it a try. First session was okay but nothing big. This second session on Friday was amazing. Very powerful. So much emotional "gunk" (technical term) came out that I've been exhausted ever since.

I'm hopeful that this method can really help move me forward again psychologically. I've been plateaued for a while now.

Speaking of plateaus...David drove me around to where he's been riding his bike. Up and down. Up and down! :-) This area is about 5 miles south of where we live, kind of a rural area. Not really rural -- there are lots of people, but the roads are tiny, and it's probably still an unincorporated area. Anyway, it's amazing to me that he can ride 32 miles. I've been riding my bike around our rather hilly neighborhood and can barely do a mile!

Here's to school, church, bike riding, and keeping-on-keeping-on!

Monday, October 19, 2009