Setting the Break


I’ve only just starting reading the EMDR book, but from what I understand, the body wants to heal itself. Say you suffer a compound fracture to your leg. With no medical attention, your body will do its best to heal itself. Bone will regrow, bruises will heal, and the break will slowly mend. But a compound fracture is so severe that the body can only do so much on its own. With no medical attention, the break will heal poorly and will most likely result in a limp, if not loss of use of the leg.

The same idea holds true for mental health. With a severely traumatic event, such as childhood sexual abuse, a part of your brain essentially breaks. Our bodies and minds can only handle so much, and when they reach that breaking point they can’t help but break. But your body wants to heal itself, so it tries. It starts to knit the pieces of your mind back together. But it does it imperfectly. Just like in the compound fracture analogy, the body is more focused on getting the job done as opposed to getting it done right. The body knows that there is a crisis and that it gets better if it tries to heal itself. What it doesn’t know is that in the long run, whether with the PTSD or the compound fracture, the body’s way of healing ultimately hurts the person.

EMDR resets the break. With a compound fracture, you have to re-break the injury in order to properly align the bone so that when the body sends the signals to regrow bone and tissue, the break can heal properly. With EMDR, the patient (again, from my understanding) re-experiences the trauma to a certain degree. Often times a person is not able to recover from a trauma because they have never fully processed what happened, simply because of the faulty healing the body does. But once they have processed the trauma, they can reconcile it and begin to truly heal. I read that most EMDR patients recover partially, if not fully, in 3 sessions.

I can’t even imagine recovering. All of this–the trauma, the PTSD, the fear, the coping, everything–has been a part of me for so long that I’m not sure how to even process the idea of it not being a part of me. I think it mostly scares me because it is a change. I would love to be one of the success stories of EMDR. I would love to be healed. It’s amazing to think that I could have a career. Maybe we could even have biological kids if we can fix my PTSD. There are so many possibilities if the EMDR works. Maybe that’s what scares me. The only times I’ve failed have been because of the PTSD, but if that is gone and I still fail, what does that say about me? I don’t think I will fail. Or, to be more accurate, I’m sure I will mess some things up and not succeed at some things, but I know that I won’t be a failure. The more I think about it, the more excited it makes me. I could be a teacher. I could have few (none!) flash backs. I could go to my sisters school plays without feeling scared and vulnerable. I could drive through my home town without feeling like I’m going to have a panic attack. I could be me again.

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5 thoughts on “Setting the Break

  1. Thank you for this post! I am starting EMDR therapy on Monday – and the thought of it scares the bejeebus out of me! (Mostly the part about re-living the experience) From what I understand, I won’t actually start the EMDR process right away, though. I think a person has to be somewhat stable before they dive right into the trauma. Anywho, thanks for sharing! It scares me too!

    Best wishes to you!

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      • Thank you! I am very fortunate to have really great insurance and a really awesome therapist – he searched for an EMDR specialist in our area and suggested I go. I’m sure I’ll eventually post something about the experience 😉

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  2. Pingback: Starting the Process | Things I Need to Say

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