So... Yesterday I went for my first EMDR therapy treatment. We made a list of my "Top Ten Traumas" before hand and she told me to put stars around the top two most traumatic events so we could focus more on these. Before I even left to drive to the session, I had worked myself up into a full blown anxiety attack. I was pacing around the house, heart rate through the roof, breathing heavy, mind racing, quickly getting worse and worse. I don't know why all of a sudden I was so freaked out about this therapy because when we previously discussed it I had no problems or concerns doing it.
Anyways, I got there in my panicked frenzy and my therapist suggested that maybe we start off with something a little less severe to start since I was so frazzled. She didn't want me to feel worse than I already felt, not to mention I had a migraine working its way into my brain.
The session seemed to run smoothly and I could feel my progress. The heartache and pain i was feeling in my chest when we first started the session subsided quickly and was completely gone once we finished. My head felt a little cloudy, but I didn't feel like I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry myself to death anymore.
I went home and laid on the couch for a few hours to "just veg" as she suggested. I felt light headed yet my brain felt heavy and "sloshy" in my head. My eyes started to droop and I decided to go to bed (I haven't slept in almost three weeks, so the fact that I felt tired was a GREAT relief) and I fell asleep. Not into a deep sleep, since I know I was awake many times throughout the night, but it was sleep none the less. This is when the nightmares started.
One after the other after the other. I had numerous TERRIFYING nightmares about the apocalypse, being possessed by a demon, earthquakes, trains on fire full of people screaming to get out, running away from terrible things etc. I NEVER have nightmares, and if I do they do not scare me. I am a huge fan of horror films and nightmares have always excited me. These did NOT excite me. I woke up this morning trembling and dizzy and hysterical.
I turned on the light, ran upstairs crying and almost fell over. My head felt like it weighed more than I did. I felt terror coursing through my whole body. I felt afraid and scared. The nightmares were so REAL. I had to turn all the lights on in my house and open all the curtains because I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid to go back down into my room because it was dark down there. Even when i went into the kitchen throughout the day to get something from the fridge, the thought of even looking towards the top of the stairs sent me into a panic.
All day I have cried. I was in hysterics so badly that my boyfriend left work to come over and check on me. I have never felt so out of control in my whole life. I do not feel like myself. I dont feel like I am even in my own body.
So, the point of this post is to ask if anyone has done EMDR and has had adverse side effects like this. Does it get better? Do you think it will get worse with other treatments? This wasnt even my worst trauma, will it be worse with treating my more severe ones? I did a bunch of research online about the side effects and found a bunch of people stating that it did not help their multiple traumas. I do not want to live feeling like this, it is unbearable. My anxiety is worsening and I cannot turn my lights off or my heart starts to race and i start to lose it.
Oh, not to mention I seem to be getting brain "shocks" or nervous system "ticks" where my head kind of shakes back and forth and sometimes even jerks to the left. Loud noises give me anxiety and hurts my ears. I tried to unload the dish washer this afternoon and the sound of plates clanging together was too much for me to handle..
Ugh, hopefully someone reads this, sorry it is so long..
The following user gives a hug of support to ladydawn:
For EMDR to be effective, it takes around a minimum of four sessions to see a difference. You also want to make sure your therapist is someone who is a good fit for you. It always gets worse before it get better because there is a lot of traumatic experiences to work through and overcome. It isnít an easy road.
My therapist compared EMDR to stirring a bucket of water in which mud had settled at the bottom. After my first session, I was overwhelmed with negative emotions-- past pain and trauma.
The pain and trauma had been buried deep inside me for so long, releasing it felt like releasing toxins. I can remember many times where I'd have tears streaming from my eyes, yet not be consciously aware of "thinking" anything in particular.
I saw my EMDR therapist weekly for 6 months and it was like peeling back layers of an onion. It was difficult and often emotionally painful, but each time I'd feel a growing sense of relief and strength. We eventually got to the bottom of things, but even today I know there are issues I feel I still contemplate and think through. But my brain feels different, if that makes sense.
In hindsight, I know it was the best thing I could have done. The person who emerged from the wreckage is not the same person who went in, and that's a good thing.
Occasionally I'll do EMDR on myself, following my therapist's instructions and I've found it very useful when I need to understand how to deal with current issues in a new, stronger way.
I hope this helps. I hope you're feeling better. I wish you the best
I hope this is not to late to reply. I had my 2nd EMDR and it worked. The first time we tried I kept counting how many times she moved her hand. 2nd one went well but I was exhausted after. She also told me I may experiences like headaches, more memories etc. She told me to call her if that happened.
I told my therapist that I had been counting her hand movements. She had a sense of humor and we both laughed. We tried 2 more times and it didn't work.
At my next session we tried again and after much much crying it worked. She did every thing slow and that worked wonderfully. Only side effect was exhaustion.
I joined this site to tell you that I have the brain buzzing thing too Since 1996. I told all my many therapists about it and they never could tell me what it was. It just so happened when I started meds it stopped.
I thank you for posting that. I thought I was crazy and all my docs thought I was crazy. Still wish I knew what it was and why it happens.
I have regular sessions and most times I have no side effects. Today I had a session on deep seated stuff and had mild side effects which led me to check if others experience the same. At first I felt spacey for a couple of hours, had to careful as I drove home and did errands. I felt sad all day afterwards and very tired. I just couldn't shake the sadness. In the past it lasts the rest of the day. I napped for over an hour and it helped.
In the past I have had nightmares that are related indirectly to the PTSD events. I just understand it is from stirring things up and it is a good yet uncomfortable side effect of EMDR for me. It is soo worth it. In the long run I find EMDR to be very helpful in resolving some of these events.
OMG!!! LadyDawn, not sure if you still visit this site, but THANK YOU for posting in such detail. The after effect of my EMDR session was very similar to yours. I thought I was going crazy with the light headedness, super-deluxe crazy dreams and sick to my stomach.
I was so scared that I was making this stuff up. You know, convincing myself that EMDR does not really work, but rather a psyching one's self into believing it actually works because I was told it would.
I'm going to continue this process until I get back to normal.