Friday, March 06, 2020

EMDR

This blog has been operational for sixteen(!) years now, and it's covered a lot of territory.  Everything from pop culture to weird news to chronicling my run for political office and anything in between.  It's shown readers the inside of a nuclear power plant, to the ancient sanctity of Orthodox Christianity.

But it hasn't depicted everything about my life.  Though there have been times that I've shared glimpses of personal frustration and tragedy, most of what happens on this side of the screen has been shrouded from my audience.  It's been a common lament of mine: how it seems that everyone I know gets to display their blessings and joy over Facebook while I've come up empty in those regards.  And then I'm reminded that people only show the good things on social media, not the bad.  So if that's a crime, then I suppose I'm just as guilty.

However, there are exceptions.  The Being Bipolar series is no doubt the biggest of them.  Hard to believe it'll be ten years later next winter that I began that series, and there is still much more to write about it.  I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or manic depression) early in 2004.  By 2009 it had destroyed much of my personal life, including a marriage.  Being Bipolar began as an attempt to take it back.  On that note, it failed.  But I still ended up satisfied that it's documented my thoughts and experiences with a mental illness.

But it's not my only mental illness.

Early in 2018 came another diagnosis.  I now understand that I have Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The result of numerous horrible experiences across the span of my life, and especially things that happened during my childhood.  That's never really been written about on this blog.  My best friends and circle of close associates though have seen it only too often.  The times when I regress, and have flashbacks and am immobilized by the weight of memories that cannot and will not leave.  My therapists have helped me find a few strategies for dealing with episodes of PTSD: helping me get back into the moment instead of staying thrust toward the past.  And in vast part they do work.

But that's only addressing the symptoms, not the condition itself.

Yesterday I began what we are hoping may be an endeavor to stem the PTSD itself once and for all.  I had the initial appointment of what will be a series of sessions involving a fairly new therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing... or EMDR for short.  It came about during the Nineties as a result of investigations by psychologist Francine Shapiro.  It essentially means that via visual manipulation and use of other stimuli (including the use of a gimmick that I've dubbed "the Walkman") my brain is going to rewire itself to route around the parts of it that the PTSD chiefly operates in.  Or something like that.

Not really EMDR since Alex
can't move his eyeballs around
Yesterday's session was an orientation/familiarization with the technique.  And I'm already very much looking forward to beginning it proper.  EMDR has enjoyed great success in helping others address their own PTSD and we think it holds a lot of promise for my own case.

This was already an exceptional week in regard to my recovery.  I cannot discuss much of what transpired, however.  Maybe someday that will be possible.  Maybe, not ever.  The EMDR though, I can and will be talking about that as the treatment progresses.  So, stay tuned!

2 comments:

Sagacious said...

HI Chris, I have read a little of your story in the Being BiPolar Series. I can relate as I inherited BiPolar II from my mother's side.

I applaud you for being so open about how the illness has influenced your life. It helps to change the fear and ignorance about BiPolar illness into understanding and compassion.

It took me until the age of forty to figure it out, or better said, to accept in myself that BiPolar is something I have to find a way to live with. The journey has been wild, though, with a grounding in Faith and a surrendering to God of everything in my life, letting go and letting God, life has been amazing the past 15 years. I am 61.

I am familiar with EMDR. The fellow I knew who did the therapy had excellent results. I hope you do too.

There is another therapy you may want to look into to dissipate the energy of PTSD trauma. It involves tapping on acupressure points while remembering the trauma and repeating NLP phrases. The process really did often immediately dissipate negative feelings. It worked wonders for me dealing with all kinds of past trauma. It is called Emotional Freedom Technique.

So thanks for having your blog. I admire your writing (it is something I have not had the gumption to do seriously) yet as I have thought of and read your blog, it encourages me to do so more often.

best,

Philip





Chris Knight said...

Philip, those are the kindest of words and I am profoundly humbled to read them. Thank you for your encouragement (and quite needed at this time) and I wish you only the best in your own recovery. Stay the course, my friend and kindred spirit :-)