Is EMDR the answer to lasting peace?

I went to a new therapist earlier this summer to help me deal with one of the underlying causes (at least, I assumed it was an underlying cause) of my self-criticism and depression. I had recently heard of EMDR, so searched until I found a local practitioner of that therapeutic modality (method).

Powerful stuff.

As I understand it, the power behind EMDR is that it helps people access the emotions they’ve long hidden in their cells following a trauma–to experience those emotions and work through them–after which they can face the memory of the trauma without it causing them anxiety, panic, shame, etc. The memory no longer harms them!

If you haven’t heard of it, I recommend you research EMDR. I think everyone who is struggling with PTSD or other long-term depressive disorders should look into it.

The term EMDR (or E.M.D.R.) is an acronym for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The treatment modality involves a therapist gently encouraging you to hold a memory or fear (of your choice, decided beforehand in consultation with the therapist) in your thoughts as he/she trains your brain to use both hemispheres as you access those memories. Often, deeply guarded emotions will surface–which is a milestone, but not the end of the treatment. “As [EMDR] exercises continue, painful feelings are replaced with greater calm, peace, and resolution,” resulting in lasting relief from the anxiety and triggering formerly caused by the memory.

For some, the “training” involves having their eyes follow a moving object controlled by the therapist. For me, my “training” involved holding two vibrating apparati (one in each hand), which would alternate back and forth (first one would vibrate, then the other, repeat).

I’m grateful I was able to have 4 productive sessions with Marilyn Soto. Her practice, called Healing Haven Counseling, is located in Springville. (…/Healing+Haven+Coun…)

Please spread the word. I’m convinced that many, many would benefit from EMDR .

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An important truth about feelings

An idea occurred to me a couple of weeks ago which I want to share with others suffering from depression. It is this:
Negative, painful feelings are NOT “evidence” that one is a worthless person, NOR are they “predictors” that one’s future will be a miserable failure. They are not realiable measures of “reality.” They are just feelings!
What evidence do I have for this claim? Think about the last time you had an AMAZINGLY fun day. How did it make you feel? Did you feel positively about yourself? Did your good mood make you feel hopeful and enthusiastic about your life? Now imagine hypothetically that the very next day you ended up in a very sad, dark place in your mind. Imagine that it made you very self-critical. Let’s assume that it made you feel that there was NOTHING to look forward to but a lifetime of depression.
Now ask yourself these questions: Did something fundamentally change about your self worth (your value as a unique living, breathing human being) from day one to day two?  NO!  Did your ACTUAL future suddenly become dark from one day to the next?  No!  Your future remained wide open.  What happened then?  Your mood changed–that is all!  NOT your worth, and NOT your future!

Let’s remember this next time we’re hurting:  “It’s just a feeling.  This, too, shall pass.”
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Good News!

Yesterday I was headed on the Frontrunner to SLC (intended destination: airport) and somehow mistook the North Temple stop for a stop further south. When the train started moving again and I looked up from my phone to see that there were very few passengers still in our car, I asked a fellow passenger which stop that had been. When he confirmed that it had indeed been North Temple, I jumped up hoping to find a way to get off the train. Not possible, a Frontrunner employee told me (she’d just walked into our car): “Once the train starts moving, it doesn’t stop until the next stop.”
I tried to not panic.  Knowing I had some flexibility in my schedule, I would just go to the Woods Cross stop (10 minutes to the north), switch sides of the track, and take a southbound train to North Temple.
When I checked the UTA Trip Planner to get an estimated arrival time at the airport under such an arrangement, however, I began to worry. The southbound train wouldn’t show up for another 45 minutes–putting my arrival time at the airport within 30 minutes of my scheduled flight to Denver. If the security line was long, I’d miss my flight.
While not happy about the thought of having to pay $30-35 to Uber to get a ride to the airport, I was relieved to think that at least I had that option (which would provide me more peace of mind than the cutting-it-close train schedule would).
I went to the Uber website and quickly got frustrated that I couldn’t remember the password I’d created a year or so ago when I’d last used their services. At this moment (as I’m typing this), I realize that it would have been very fast and simple to request a new password from Uber. But yesterday my brain was flooded with Cortisol and I was not thinking clearly. Feeling anxious and antsy, I was afraid I’d waste a bunch of time trying to remember the password only to have there be no Uber drivers around (since the Woods Cross Frontrunner station wasn’t near any major roads). I wanted to start heading south NOW.
I decided I’d try to hitchhike. Maybe someone would at least take me to a freeway onramp, where another someone would pick me up and take me to the North Temple station . . .
Walking from the train station to the closest city street, I tried practicing emotional intelligence to manage my anxiety: “What am I feeling right now? I’m feeling anxious. Frustrated. Worried. Self-critical. Curious if I’ll get a ride. How do I WANT to feel about this situation? I want to find the hidden blessing. Let’s see . . . This experience will help me be more empathetic and understanding the next time someone I know makes a similar silly mistake. I’ll be able to say, ‘I know how that happens. Frustrating, though, isn’t it?! Hard to believe you missed something so obvious.'”  I smiled to myself then, thinking, Erik is going to laugh and shake his head when he learns that I’ve hitchhiked again!
This kind of thinking brought me a measure of peace, and I felt slightly more relaxed as I stuck out my thumb to ask for a ride.  Look confident, not pathetic, Shaunalei, I told myself.
The third car to pass pulled over. I briefly explained to the woman what had happened. Then–feeling my emotions well up–I warned her, “I may cry–this is so stressful.” She was patient with my tears and reassured me that she was happy to help.

As she began to drive, she told me that she had left her job in Woods Cross early because she wasn’t feeling well.  (She is 37 weeks pregnant and suffering from kidney stones, poor thing!)  She said she lives in Eagle Mountain so would be taking I-15 south.  “Oh, you’re not feeling well.  I don’t want to inconvenience you!” I told her.  “You can drop me off wherever is convenient for you.”  She again reassured me that she was happy to help and would be able to take me to the airport.  I couldn’t believe her generosity!  To make small talk, I asked her about her pregnancy, if she has other children, about her commute, where she intends to give birth, etc. 

Within ten minutes or so we were nearing the airport, and I turned to her.  “I don’t have any cash to pay you, Amy, but I’d be happy to send you money right now via PayPal.”  She didn’t want me to pay her.  I tried again.  “Do you need anything for the baby?  I could order something on Amazon for you,” I offered.  “I’m fine,” she said.  “You don’t need to give me anything.”

“Would it be all right with you,” I asked her, “if I allude to your kindness today on Facebook?  We’ve had such sad news recently that I would like to share the story of your kindness with others.  Not only have you helped me today, I think your kindness will help others, too, to remember that the world is full of good people.”

She smiled and consented.

Today I honor and share the Good News of Amy’s kindness!  May her influence for good radiate out from this moment to bless and inspire others with the truth that there is an ocean of love to be shared–drop by drop in small acts of kindness.

Thank you, Amy of Eagle Mountain.  Thank you for helping make the world a kinder, friendlier place.  My heartfelt wishes go out to you for a safe, healthy delievery of your baby in the coming week(s).  Your children are blessed to have you as their mother!

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