Here is my experience.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and fear my entire life and I don’t remember a time where it wasn’t always walking around with me. As a kid, I had no idea what it was and tried to do things to make me feel better and control my environment to keep it from rearing its ugly head.
As I got older, I still tried to control EVERYTHING but then fear set in and HARD. I had fear about finances, fear of people not liking me, fear of people in general, fear of getting kidnapped, fear of roller coasters, elevators, cars, planes, fear of losing my job, fear of dying and going to hell, fear of disappointing God one last time and him saying “that was your last straw, missy.” The list goes on! Fear overran my life and it got way worse as I got older. It felt as if I was carrying around a bag of rocks attached to me and as life went on the rocks kept accumulating.
The only thing that kept me from drowning in anxiety were distractions, such as my job, friends, animals, and always staying busy.
I wanted to end my life more times than I care to admit but I was afraid that whatever my plan was wouldn’t work and I would end up alive with more problems than I already had. Fortunately, the fear of NOT dying kept me alive. It all sounds so messed up!
When I went to visit my family this year, I read my blog “Childless and It’s Okay” to my mom. There is a portion in that post about my anxiety in the blog. Her response was “But you were always such a happy kid” and then started to cry. It made me think about all the people that appeared so happy, yet they took their own life. We have no idea what people are secretly facing and it breaks my heart that we feel shame for not being okay. Robin Williams is a great example of that and we were all shocked when he took his life. My hope for this post and blog is to take away the shame and say,”I’m not okay.” I want everyone to seek as much help as they need to feel safe and want them to find a way to enjoy life.
My happiness was my cover and a way to drown out the pain and fear. I truly was happy at work and happy at times. Then, I would be by myself and sit in silence and it was absolutely excruciating because I never took care of the issue and felt alone and terrified.
Finally, after my second divorce I just couldn’t take it any longer and wanted to crawl out of my skin. I felt like life was just too damned hard and I needed help ASAP. So, I got on my computer late at night (because at this point I wasn’t sleeping) and emailed a therapist. BEST DECISION I EVER MADE! She helped me for a while and then I heard about EMDR through podcasts and friends and thought “I need to try that” but never did.
What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) This therapy was initially developed in 1987 for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What to expect?
The therapist will give you a list of negative cognitions that apply to the trauma you will address in the session which could be “I’m not in control” or “I’m not safe.” They will give you headphones and something to hold in each hand that will vibrate in your hands and make a vibrating noise in your ears to let your eyes know to move from side to side. The therapist may use a screen that you watch a line go side to side instead of the headphones. You will focus on the negative cognition and see what pops in your mind. After a while, maybe a few minutes, you will share with your therapist what came to mind and then the work begins.
How I felt afterwards.
I’m sure it is different for everyone but I was expecting some major breakthrough that blew my mind and then leave after one session amazed. What actually happened is, I felt better but as time passed during the week I noticed a small shift in my anxiety and as the sessions went on the anxiety and fear lessened until it was gone completely. I can have a conversation about my trauma without emotions at all. Sometimes a small reaction will come up and then it goes right back down because the negative cognition no longer exists in my body. It’s absolutely incredible to no longer feel shame, anger, and fear. Instead, I feel calm, safe, and in control. I can go through life knowing that I have peace and can handle whatever comes my way without building walls and creating unhealthy coping skills.
I explain it like this: a trigger will get activated and instead of reacting to it, I feel it and it passes right through me. It’s like I’m sitting on a river bank and the trigger passes by in a kayak and says, “Hey Beth, how’s it going?” “Have a nice day and I’m going to keep flowing down the river and let you be. Bye bye.”
A little background on myself and my boyfriend.
My boyfriend and I have been on a healing journey for the past six years and met a year ago. We individually were on this self discovery path for five years and recently integrated our journey together.
Since we’ve been dating, there were triggers that affected our relationship. We were both surprised how well we worked through the triggers. We have a loving communication style but we would like to avoid triggers if at all possible. That is what brought us to couples therapy in the first place.
Before we met we were both at a place in our lives where we felt whole and good as single people. We didn’t need someone else to “complete” us. Both of us were living our lives at 100%, NOT 50% and waiting for someone else to fill the other 50%. If we were going to allow a serious relationship, then it needed to enhance our already great lives. He had accepted that a monogamous relationship wasn’t his thing and I accepted that I might be single forever with some friends to do fun things with occasionally. Then, we met and fell DEEPLY in love but this time it was different. We didn’t rush into the bedroom. Instead, we became friends and got to know each other as individuals.
When we started to get to know one another, we were surprised by how similar our life paths had been. Two long term relationships, one we thought was love and a “safe” one that eventually ran their courses. Our personal trauma and empathetic nature had put us in situations that made us prey to narcissistic and unhealthy people. Because we are both so kind, we tended to forgive easily and continued to allow this bad behavior. Then we got tired of it all and said ENOUGH! Hence, our individual healing journey that led to us meeting one another as two healing and whole people. I thought FINALLY someone I can connect with and that’s exactly what we are doing.
He had some deep seated misbeliefs that didn’t serve him anymore and certainly don’t pertain to us that needed to take a back seat in his mind. I was still dealing with relationship trauma that was not serving me. These led to triggers that almost broke up our beautiful union which would have been heartbreaking for both of us!
He (BEST BF EVER) suggested couples therapy for us and the therapist said to both of us, “I think EMDR will really help you both” but individually. I was like YES!!! This is the Universe stepping in and saying, “If YOU weren’t going to step up and seek it, then we will for you.” Thank you Brian and Universe.
We did separate sessions for several months and I am sitting here in my chair at home with my coffee and feeling NO anxiety. I am tearing up with joy just thinking about it. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to want to enjoy the moments, have every desire to live and just be glad to be alive. I can sit alone with my thoughts and feel good. This is freaking HUGE!
If you are feeling like you aren’t whole or just feel off, please reach out to a professional for some help. You will outgrow your therapist eventually and that’s okay. Do what you need to do in order to be mentally healthy so you can fulfill your dreams and passions that will in turn help others that cross your path. It would be amazing to create positive feedback loops and build a community of happy and healthy souls.
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