I’ve not written about EMDR in a while. That’s because I quit. I threw in the towel because it was too hard. Actually, too hard is an understatement; it was horrific.
I know there was merit in it. I believe that the treatment works. After five sessions, I had noticed a reduction in flashbacks and intrusive images. And the night terrors decreased. On the whole it’s had a real and positive impact.
The problem is that I hit a roadblock. I felt like I could push through the horrible process because it seemed like it was worth it. I felt that I could achieve something by doing it.
Then I received the news that the police were dropping my case. I went into a spiral of anger and regret. My automatic response to the news was an urge to destroy everything I’ve ever tried to create. I wanted to tear up or burn my art. I wanted to delete this blog. Everything felt pointless and futile. I was overcome by a distorted belief that I should never try to achieve anything.
That meant that returning to EMDR to delve into the darkest depths of my worst memories and relive them second by second was too much for me. While I thought I might have to stand up in court and talk through those horrendous memories, I could see that reprocessing them was necessary. I wanted to be able to stand proudly and confidently tell my truth.
But the judicial system denied me that. So I cancelled EMDR. I couldn’t face it. My final session was unbearable. Dr H asked me to keep re-experiencing the memory of my mum walking in on my brother molesting me. I hated that. I hated having to put myself there, over and again. I wanted to run. I wanted to curl up on the floor in my car and cry my heart out.
Ending the treatment was the right decision. It felt like a failure; like I was running from the fight. It felt like cowardice, and I don’t believe I am really a coward. But when I had my relapse a few days later and ended up back in A&E, I could see it would have been too much for me.
I need to protect myself. I need to make tough decisions and admit when something is too big for me to manage. That is a totally new behaviour for me, but an essential one. That last overdose was a close call. My heart was erratic. If my therapist hadn’t called me I might have had a heart attack alone under that bridge. I don’t know if anyone would have found me in time. My body can’t keep handling the overdoses and alcohol binges.
I have to be careful and make sure I’m managing stress. That means admitting when I am not coping. It means overcoming my pride and my self-reliance and asking for help. And, most importantly it means accepting that I am not perfect and I am not invincible. I’m human. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. And that is absolutely OK.
Photo: n4i, Creative Commons.