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PTSD and EMDR by the Queen of Denial

Reflections on water Gyoen Park Tokyo Japan PTSD and EMDR Queen of Denial

PTSD and EMDR by the Queen of Denial!

It was wonderful of a client to shared their heart-felt story of PTSD and EMDR and how it has helped them.

Article by Deschen, Canberra August 2023

I would like to share with you how Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing EMDR and the supportive Counselling/Body work of Diana Fels has positively changed my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD to a manageable awareness of the beast (trauma) and the reduced nightmares as a reaction to triggers.

Some background, I have been a health worker and exposed to some horrific stories and witnessed some heartbreaking and disturbing incidents. During that time, I was well supervised, supported by a loving family and solid friendships many of whom were also working in the same field. I thought I was coping (and on many levels I was) and just got on with the job.

There was also childhood trauma in my family (domestic violence and a father with an alcohol dependency). I was acutely aware of how at times of stress thoughts and reminiscences did come back either through my mood or my body. I could feel it and palpably sense it. Over the years I have written about this (in a personal journal and had articles published about Alcohol Dependency and what it can do to families and in particular children). I also had a strict exercise regime to turn to and ensured I was topping myself up with things that made me happy, like nature, holidays, films, reading good books and yoga. If ever these memories were impacting my wellbeing, I knew these things would help shift them. I was in charge.

I had reframed my childhood and the many unsettling events along the way and viewed them as experiences that I grew from and they in turn gave me a deeper understanding of what it is like to go through ‘bad stuff’ and that empathy flows from this awareness. Turn lemons into lemonade sort of notion and help others was a kind of mantra I lived by. The past would not define me. With professional training and on-going education this kept my knowledge base current and I felt confident in the job I was paid to do. I wanted to help and serve others.

2022 arrives. Post covid, post the disruption of so many things we took for granted in our lives. Post fires and floods. I like many others was feeling stretched by this ongoing uncertainty of how the world had changed and how impacted many of my family members were at the mercy of nature and a changing climate.

I was really shocked when a flood of memories descended upon me quite unexpectedly. I thought I had worked my way through all my past. Yet childhood and past workplace events that had affected me at the time were flooding back in the ‘now’. I was aware I was not coping. I put this down to my old working life had caught up with me. I believed I was experiencing vicarious trauma. Something I was familiar with as I had seen other colleagues experience this. I had memories/flashbacks of children who had been treated inhumanely and in my capacity as a health worker had assisted and seen these family through some horrendous ordeals. Yet here I was re-activated and I was back ‘there’ in that time frame, I felt everything all over again as if time had not occurred at all. I was reliving the feelings.

Nightmares from my early childhood years were returning. In my daily life I knew my anger was out of proportion and my reactions to anything that normally would be an irritant or just an annoyance or just me being a bit snappy was over the top. I saw the impact this had on my partner and I made a commitment to seek help. I thought I was overly stretched and stressed.

I sought out Diana, via her website. Reiki, I had read about it, seen it performed in a hospital setting and with people experiencing high stress levels. I saw it as non-threatening nor harming. Its gentle approach appealed to me. It would be an adjunct, a complementary modality in between seeing my GP.

The sessions with Diana were so calming and at times I would talk and things started to tumble out, things I thought were really reconciled in me long ago. Diana was also a counsellor, and this was so comforting and helpful. I had both confidence and trust whilst Diana placed hands and gently worked on my body and held my words with calm and respect.

I saw my GP who was aware of the work I had done over many years and shared with him that I suspected I may be experiencing vicarious trauma and that my work had finally caught up with me. I was concerned for my mental health. He was so reassuring and I was referred on for an assessment. Diagnosis, PTSD. Childhood trauma and two incidents I had never shared with anyone my whole life, both happened around age 17, both had left me with a ‘fear zone’ that I had slipped in and out of for years.

Now it was my turn to look after myself. My GP suggested EMDR and gave me a lengthy handout.

Whilst having a Reiki session I mentioned to Diana I had been diagnosed with PTSD and that EMDR was recommended by my GP. I was floored when Diana said she was trained in it. We discussed what EMDR was and how the process worked. The most important aspect of starting EMDR was rapport and trust. Diana explained how, when and where we could start, there was no pressure, no expectation, no what I ‘should’ do or feel.

We began this journey back into my past beyond my working life, back to those childhood moments of utter despair and chaos and into the horribleness of the two incidents as a teenager. Back down into the depths of what I had witnessed with the children and young adults I had worked with. Other event rose to the surface like, life threatening surgery and two car accidents. I just thought this was the stuff of life, now move on sort of attitude. Build a bridge….

This all took place over several weeks. Initially Diana and I decided what strategies to draw on to self soothe and how I could remain calm and safe, emotionally regulated.

I had faith and trust in Diana’s ability to hold what I knew it was time to confront. The hurt, the pain, the shame and the vulnerability. I had never spoken about, nor shared the details of what had haunted me for years. Clearly, I was the Queen of Denial (my GP and I had a good laugh at how well I wore this crown!) or had I just trained myself so very well to block it out and sort distractions that once worked but not any longer. Things change. I changed and it was time to own all of this and what had happened and affected me at such a deep level.

EMDR is not a quick fix – it is working together, it is trust, it is a relationship built between practitioner and client sharing the moments of your hardest and most painful memories and sitting there without running, without blocking out, without distraction, it takes courage, it takes everything you have to want to improve. I was so over feeling exhausted before I started EMDR and that fear was running and ruining my life.

EMDR has worked for me. I have skills and tools to draw on. I can identify when something is being triggered on that deeper level. I am no longer ‘super charged’ and held captive by my worst fears that came in the form of regular nightmares and a very cranky, snappy and unhappy person with catastrophic thinking at times and no room for thinking life could get better. I am better.

Upshot, I am still me, I still have sensitivities, I still have the occasional nightmare. Yet when I was in the worst of the PTSD nightmares that came multiple times a night, waking up in a sweat, walking the floor, sipping tea with the cat into the early morning and seeing the sun rise and later exhausted throughout the day, all has passed. This only happens on rare occasions and the triggers are not so ‘super charged’. I am practising self-compassion, meditation and continue seeing Diana for Reiki and perform it on myself (which aligns so well with mindfulness and body scans).

There is so much more to my story. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing EMDR along with counselling from Diana, exercise, watching the diet, listening to music, loving the garden being more sociable and open in my relationships and talking about my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD has been liberating. I really feel I have come home to myself. Having stronger and clearer better boundaries (and sticking to them) around those who would tire or drain me really matters and touching base with my GP has been life changing.

Finally, I want to say that I had all the training to identify trauma, I wrote a paper 20 years ago on trauma and predicted an onslaught of PTSD Diagnosis if workplaces did not do more to support their staff. Yet here I was the one with the knowledge who had PTSD and I did not recognise it till it forced its way out into the open. Queen of Denial for sure! Or just well hidden?

I have since read a lot about Post Traumatic Growth, it’s real, it’s reachable. There are always good caring GP’s, there are ways to show yourself compassion. I was so grateful that Diana Fels was there for me in my darkest times.

Deschen, Canberra August 2023

Copyright © 2015 Diana’s Guide to Wellbeing. All rights reserved. The information and no part of this article may be copied, reproduced or used in anyway without written permission of Diana Fels or Deschen (via Diana Fels).

Resolving Trauma with Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing EMDR

What is EMDR?

A traumatic event is any experience in which a person is exposed to a threatening or harmful event and experiencing strong negative emotions or helplessness. Non-traumatic memories generally will fade over time, losing their vividness and detail and has a sense of being in the past. Sometimes traumatic events, the memories, emotions and bodily reactions get stuck in the brain, have not been processed and released and have continued after effects far beyond the event. It will seem vivid, like it happened yesterday, reliving the event, a sense of being present and may continue to affect the body and emotions and trigger reactions.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing EDMR helps the brain to reprocess and release those stuck memories softening the emotional charge to become more of a distant past. EMDR therapy is a technique used by the medical field and has science backing, a useful and effective approach for treating trauma and PTSD symptoms.

Resource: Healthline EMDR Therapy and Cleveland Clinic EMDR Therapy

From my own experience, when working with the EMDR I noticed impressive shifts and transformations with one thought, feelings, emotions and patterns. The incident becomes a more distant memory with less or no emotional charge that brings an internal shift within, releasing some of the holds and after effects of the incident.

Diana Fels, August 2023

Would like to know more?

Interested in EMDR, Counselling or Reiki session contact me

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