EMDR & Pain

The last few months have been full of pain. Every single Tuesday, I log onto my virtual therapy session ready to discover more. In the last 5-6 weeks, I’ve been able to recall memories and/or identify beliefs/patterns.

This past Tuesday, I went into therapy with extreme neck/shoulder/upper back pain. My therapist asked “how are you?” My answer was “in the worst pain yet.” We got into what happened leading up to my pain. My answer was instant… I lost a foster kitten.

As we talked about this loss, I identified the belief as “I’m not good enough.” In my mind, I understand that newborn kittens pass away, especially when they don’t have mom to provide important antibodies. In my heart, I felt at fault. For days, I kept replaying the scene in my head. Every single time I asked “what if?” “What if I was better at bottle feeding?” “What if I had stayed up all night instead of taking little nap in between feedings?”

My therapist suggested EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). I was a bit skeptical. To be completely honest, I’ve always felt EMDR to be a bit silly. I’m not able to hold an image (hello aphantasia) and I get easily frustrated by that. I’ve also never quite felt a different after reprocessing with EMDR. I reluctantly agreed. I didn’t think it would help, but I also didn’t think it could be made worse.

My therapist brought up a video. I was to follow the moving ball with my eyes (the eye movement portion). I felt a bit hesitant, but decided I had to at least try. Through the process, I found my pain would go away as I was following the screen. We were also able to find that my mind knew one thing, but my heart was telling me another. The goal was to reprocess the emotion and go from “I’m not good enough” to “I did the best that I could.” It took most of the session. Once we were done, we talked some more. I realized that I felt that I should’ve done more. I understood that I did everything I could, but I also felt that I should’ve known more.

After a long talk, I left my session knowing that I need to be more compassionate with myself. The advice or comfort I’d offer someone going through something similar is not the same I offer to myself. I’m very hard on myself. It’s something I’m committed to changing.

As far as EMDR, I noticed a change. Within hours of reprocessing, I noticed my pain had significantly decreased. The next morning, I woke up with full range of motion. I didn’t feel stiff or pained. I was sore, but I wasn’t in excruciating pain. I’m glad I was open to trying. I’m also looking forward to trying EMDR for other memories/situations. Until then, I’m grateful for reprieve.

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