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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Therapy, for me?

I've always seen myself as a rather well adjusted person. Sure my house isn't clean and my kids aren't always happy. I've had hard times in my life and made some pretty bad mistakes before, who hasn't? I lived through them and moved on, or so I thought.

Joey's mom is a certified Marriage and Family Counselor. As long as I can remember, I've had an interest in Psychology. How the brain works and how people grow and develope into the people they are is fascinating to me. Knowing this Joey's mom talks to me about counseling techniques and the goings on of the Psychology world. Several years ago she told me about a thing called EMDR. I have no idea what the acronym stands for, but it has to do with making difficult memories process differently in the brain so that they don't cause pain anymore. I thought it intrigiuging and I was sure that it helped her clients, but I never thought that I would have a use for it. Yesterday I went for my first EMDR session with Ruth (Joey's mom). I'm finally ready to get over my fear of water (drowning mostly) and she said that EMDR has success in dealing with phobias. After talking to her for a while she told me I actually have a form of post tramatic stress disorder. At some point, whether I remember it or not, I was traumatized in the water. Then all the bad incidents that have happened in the water through out my life like falling in a pool and sinking a boat just reinforced the trauma that was already there. It makes sense to me. I've watched the change in others around me who have also been working with Ruth and EMDR and thought it was worth a try.

The best part is that it is relatively quick and easy. Not quite painless, but there is no dwelling on unpleasent memories. First you get comfortable. Then she asks you to close your eyes and remember the unpleasent event or even just the feeling it gives you if you don't want to visualize it. Then she taps you on both hands back and forth, back and forth. After several minutes she asks you to take a deep breath in and blow it out. Then asks you to give her one word that explains how you are feeling. If it is a negative feeling you visualize, while she is tapping, the feeling floating away or dripping out of your fingertips or some other thing that helps get rid of it. After several rounds of tapping hopefully you can change those negative feelings in to good feelings. It took me a while. Even though I went in for the water stuff, I had several painful memories come to mind during the tapping. I just watched them float away. It was amazing.

After the session Ruth told me that when painful memories get stuck in the part of your brain that doesn't process them well, it affects the way that you see your world and it affects everything else in your life one way or another. I tend to be control freak. I like to have control over everything in my life and if I don't I feel lost and scared. She explained to me that it might be because I feel a loss of control while under water and that loss scares me so everytime I'm not in control it brings back the panic I feel under water. Again it makes sense to me. She said that by learning to feel in control under water I will gradually let go of being so unreasonably in control of everything and everyone else in my life. Ruth asked me to be aware of subtle changes in the way that I react to stimuli after the session. Yesterday I felt nothing but complete exhaustion. It was hard work concentrating so hard and hard work remembering things that I purposefully tried to forget. I came home and took a 3 hour nap and still felt incredibly tired. But today I have noticed major changes. I feel more in control of myself in general. I don't get worked up like I did before and I can handle things with more patience. Today Taylor refused to do his school work. Normally I would scream and yell and threaten and finally in the end give in to him. Today I stayed calm (mostly) and just reitterated what I wanted from him over and over again. Eventually he was the one who gave in. It was wonderful. Larry thru a fit as usual. Normally I spank him and send him to his room. Today no spanking. I was running late for a Presidency meeting only to find out that I had a flat tire. Normally I would be grumpy and take it out on my family. Today even though I was far from happy I was able to stay calm and change the tire and get the incident over with.

For what ever reason EMDR seems to work. Ruth says I will need about 2 more 90 minute sessions to help with my fear of water. The 90 minutes went so fast I was shocked when it was over. I would HIGHly recommend it to people who know they have specific hurtful memories that they want to get rid of, but also I would recommend it to anyone who feels the strain, stress, and tension from everyday life. Those little things can build up into big things. The lightness I feel now is definitely worth it. I feel more capable of living my life the way I want to, far beyond the water fears.

So for those of you who always wanted to go back to school- there is your psychology lesson for the day.


  1. WOW! That's great. I was wondering how it went but didn't want to pry. Makes me wonder what things I'm holding on to. You should go back to school for a psychology degree. I think you would make a good therapist.

  2. It really was great. I'd perfer psychology to teaching actually. I spent two years on the wrong degree.