Seeking Your Insights About EMDR

After a recent horribly traumatic experience around gallbladder surgery, I figured out I have Trauma with a capital T. TRAUMA! PTSD. Without actually understanding what happened to me, I've been traumatized by various events all my life, beginning with my childhood -- medical events and treatments, as well as emotional neglect by parents and family -- then progressing through adulthood. I was shocked to learn this, since I'm almost 63 years old and never suspected this my entire life, and neither had anyone remotely suggested PTSD. But here it is. And I'm angry. It feels like my entire life has been a lie and all the various sorts of efforts I've tried throughout my life trying to "fix" myself (having trouble bonding with people, avoiding doctors and even people talking about their aches and pains, reliving the most disturbing events, being irritable and overreacting when I'm not in control of social situations, etc.). In any case, I've found a therapist to work with. We've had two sessions so far and will start next week to talk about EMDR therapy and the details of how that might work with me. I know the traumas have to be revisited, but I'm getting cold feet about going through the therapy. My questions for the group are: What questions would you ask a therapist about going through EMDR? What do you know now that you wished you'd known before you started that therapy? What can you tell me about what to expect? What pointers, hints, or insight can you give me? I'm anxious to get on with my life, and this has me stuck worse than I've ever been stuck before. I have yet to complete my life's goal -- writing a book about being a caregiver to my husband, who died from dementia -- and I haven't been able to write because of this silly PTSD. Grrrrr and eeeek and !#@*&?!!! Seems like even the trauma has me traumatized.

16 Replies

  • I don't have time to give you a helpful reply, but will try later or tomorrow.

    Be kind to yourself.

    Talk soon,


  • Thank you, sugar-pants. You too. ❤️

  • AutumnHermit, thanks for your post. I, too, have many questions about EMDR and will look forward to any answers. I am 74. I had the realization about my childhood emotional abuse and neglect just this year, VERY recently. I know only one thing about being traumatized - it also affects our bodies, the memories are within our physical bodies also, so some kind of work may be needed with the body, besides the EMDR. I've had all kinds of physical problems and am still working on getting those fixed with my doctors and dentist. I am working on healing with my present counselor who does not do EMDR. Hope she can connect me with someone who does as my counseling winds down with her.

    I wish you the very best with writing your book when you can get to it! Maybe before you can get to it, you can just do a draft of an outline initially?

  • p-c-1940, yes, I have also experienced pain in the body, but only very recently. I'll also be looking for someone who does somatics -- releasing those memories held in the body. My therapist doesn't do that, and the ones who do seem to be few and far between where I live. Thank you so much for the encouragement on writing the book. It means a lot. I have a first draft as well as an outline and am probably about halfway done writing the second draft. I was hoping to finish that this year until this surgery-from-hell happened last month. Maybe I'll be able to start writing again by the end of the year, but it looks like I'll definitely be giving up what they call "building my platform," or promoting myself and the book with a Facebook author page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I just can't get into much social interaction right now. Best to you in finding an EMDR therapist and kudos to all of us here for staring down these traumas and abuses. We are awesome.

  • There is a very good book about the body remembering trauma called the body keeps the score. Some libraries have copies although I bought mine because I wanted to be able to refer back to it.

  • My library has it and I've requested it. I might want to buy it down the road, but this'll do for starters. Thanks!

  • I'm in EMDR therapy. It took us a while to reach this point as my therapist worked with em first to stabilise myself. The thing that's good about EMDR therapy is that you don't have to discuss the trauma. You are simply asked to think of part of it that was particularly difficult and to hold that memory in your mind while the therapist passes two fingers backwards and forwards in front of your eyes and you follow the fingers with your eyes. After each set you may be asked where in the body you are feeling it and may be asked to rate it from one to ten. A session for me lasts for and hour. We may visit several parts of a trauma during that hour. I do not have to tell the therapist what the image is I am holding in my mind during the finger processing. There are often very quick changes for traumatised people, during this therapy and some people do not need many sessions before noting changes in their perception of the trauma. As I understand it the finger passing part helps the stuck memory become unstuck and moves it to a different part of the brain. I see this as a lot of boxes with the front one where the moments that's stuck is. In this bix it's easily triggered and has me dissociating or worse. The finger passing helps it move to the back box where it is not in my mind and becomes less part of my everyday life. I'm trying to simplify this and say how it seems to me. I have complex PTSD and also have dissociative identity disorder and so the therapist in my case has a difficult job as different parts hold different parts of the one memory. I have had multiple big T from childhood and teenage years and in 2010 I had the absolute worst trauma I could ever have imagined and in a county thousands of miles from my own. I don't want to go into that right now. We have not yet reached that trauma processing as we are dealing with the other stuff first. It is a gentle therapy. That's how I experience it. Now for me, I am a published writer, I set aside a potion of every day to work on my work. So at the moment I am rewriting and revising my most recent work before it will go to the publisher. Could you say start on your book by even doing ten minutes a day of it. Even noting some of the parts or breaking it down into maybe the beginning middle and end. Sort of like a blue print before you begin the task of actually writing it. I sometimes do this if I'm writing something with a plot. I know what the plot is before I begin but often stumble across the twists and turns in that plot as I write. I wish you well with the therapy and look forward to you sharing how you find it. I also look forward to updates on your book.

  • I find it intriguing that EMDR can be a gentle therapy when you're working with trauma. This makes me not so afraid. As for writing, I was about halfway through writing the second draft when I had to have the surgery that revealed full-blown PTSD. A number of weeks afterwards, when I thought I could write I sat down at the computer, and -- nothing. I was stuck and couldn't do it, and it became yet another thing I was sad and frustrated about -- not being able to write, not being able to access the old "me" who could write. Because it seemed to be adding to my distress, I stopped trying for now. Maybe just a little more time before I try again. Thank you for sharing your EMDR experience and a bit about your writing life. It feels good to connect in this way.

  • That we are. It's so great that you already have an EMDR counselor. I'm glad you mentioned somatics , I need to look for that also.

    It is wonderful you already are on a 2nd draft of your book. I have written some books but could not publish the last one. I had really bad luck with local yokel politics and it just was not worth all the trouble. My book was about wild horse history and advocacy and the last of the wild horses in the U.S. The best thing about this was that I got to meet some real wild horses in New Mexico. I fell in love with them. I had to back off this project, though, and it was really painful but it fits right in with all of my other bad life experiences, was just another one where I was not aware enough of what was going on or how awful the people were whom I was dealing with. I wouldn't touch the book again with a 10-foot pole!

    I am also looking at possible surgery. This would be on my left foot, for a collapsed arch and crooked ankle. I was told yesterday that even with surgery I would have to wear an ankle brace for the rest of my life. I don't know if this is true. I am still in shock re that.

    Re social media interactions, I was on Facebook and also LinkedIn and I had some really excellent connections re the wild horse book but I got off those as soon as I had the bad experience. It was disappointing, to say the least. I think I've got my hands too full now to do any more writing or publishing. Social media is something I am not interested in at all, not really being 'a people person.' Oh, except on these forums!

  • Sorry you had to deal with bad local politics while you were writing what sounds like it would have been a wonderful, uplifting book that would have given hope and brought attention to another beauty in the world. I would have liked very much to read it. Oh no, possible surgery? It sounds horrible to have to wear an ankle brace after going through all the pain of surgery. Wishing the best for you.

  • Thanks, Autumn, for your kind words. I dread a surgery and would like to avoid it if possible but a bad ankle affects the entire body including my back.

    Re the book, I had many beautiful color photos also but that actually made the book almost unpublishable because it increased the cost of publishing too much. A local publisher wanted me to have only one or two black and white photos. The U.S. Government, Bureau of Land Management, has obliterated over half of U.S. wild horses and is now going after the rest. They round them up cruelly which kills some of them and then they put them in corrals, crowded together. They were not hurting anyone or anything. It's about the power companies, land development and cattle ranches. We advocates could not have stopped them, thought we tried mightily. Advocates with money have resorted to taking the Gov't. to court but it is just not going to stop this very ugly genocide. The book was 250 pages with 8 pages of references.

    Some of the horses in the herd I met had been DNA tested and had 50-60% exact same DNA as the Spanish Conquistador's steeds that came here as early as the 1700's. Nobody in power cared a whit.

  • I used EMDR in my recovery too. Lindyloo53 gave a good account. You might also like listening to my radio interview with EMDR founder, Dr. Francine Shapiro. She's great at explaning the theory behind EMDR (it helped her heal after the trauma of cancer) and also how the process is designed to be experienced.

    The interview is here:

    Good luck!

  • This looks to be a goldmine of helpful info, and I'll be digging into this later in the day. Thank you!

  • Hi AUTUMNHERMIT - glad you posted because I thought I was a late bloomer at PTSD because I was 50 when it surfaced.

    Have been healing, first intensively, and now for 25 years-the healing led me to inner peace.

    I also had child abuse memories come up and my treatment was focused on Inner Conversation: acknowledging my little girl, telling her I was sorry that she felt hurt and couldn't express it and that she was safe now & much more.

    Only after honoring my Inner Child .... the foundation of all healing... did I deal with next traumas. EMDR works OK if used correctly ... and begin at the beginning. I GUESS MY THERAPIST DISPELLED MY OVERWHELM ... Yours can do it to

    I considered RECOVERY my new purpose in life, am calmer now and cope better... IT'S ALL GOOD. BLESSINGS.

  • I like the idea of recovery being your new purpose in life. I'm still trying to be okay with not being able to do much -- mostly reading, meditating, walking along the beach. Oh yeah, and crying and being angry, taking unconscious inventories of my previous traumas and how they've influenced me as a person. I guess it's nice that I'm retired and can take time to recover without having to worry about money. But I had a different idea of what I'd be doing in retirement. From what people have said and what I've read about EMDR, there will be time for retirement fun at some point. Thank you for weighing in, and take care.

  • Absolutely, we start feeling better because we know the problem & are willing to take action, one step at a time... Here's to you feeling better day by day in all ways & always.

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