As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve recently started the process of trying EMDR as a new therapy technique to add to my ever-growing chest of tools to help with my anxiety and OCD. After being referred to a therapist, who I have confidence in and feel comfortable with, we started to lay the groundwork needed to start this therapy. We started with a family mapping to provide a guide as to “who’s who” in my family (more of a very informal genealogy). I was then tasked with putting together a Negative History list, which, as the name indicates, meant putting down on paper all of the items in my past that I could remember as being negative and the age they occurred. I then had to rate each item with my current distress level. Wow, talk about a stress inducing exercise! I’d never done anything like this before. Sure, we all have negative items in our past that we remember and hopefully are able to get past or deal with at some point, but we normally handle them one at a time. Let’s just say, intentionally sitting at my laptop (oh yeah, I said laptop…I needed a spreadsheet for my list) and purposefully recalling bad things was not very high on my bucket list. To be fair, I’ve had a great life and my intent isn’t to make it sound like I’ve lived this horrible existence or make trivial jokes about bad things that happen to others. However, [(to be fair) = (logical)], and anxiety disorders are not logical, they are infuriatingly illogical.
Now that the groundwork had been laid, in yesterday’s session I got my first taste of EMDR. Actually, it was more like the caffeine-free, diet EMDR. I can officially say I lasted a full 60 seconds before I had to stop and work out the details of my imaginary safe place. A “safe place” simply being a mental setting where I feel safe and comfortable. My safe place was a deserted island where I could put my toes in the sand, my beer always stayed cold, and the sun beamed down on my face. So why did I stop? Well, I tend to overthink things, as in, pretty much all the time. It’s been a tremendous asset professionally and in the classroom when used judiciously; though it can become almost crippling when let loose. Embarrassingly, I let a bit too much reality creep into my safe place in the form of my fair skin and that wonderful sun beaming down. Yes, I have to admit, I was worried about a sunburn. I always have to put on SPF 3000 or I get burnt at the beach so it just naturally snuck in on me. In all fairness (pun intended) if I had to overthink, at least it was for purpose of practicing good skin health. Anyhow, I opened my eyes, admitted I needed to tweak the sun’s rays on ‘Mark Beach’, and asked if we could restart.
Other than my little run in with imaginary sunburn, the small taste of the experience went well. I’m still excited about the new therapy technique and remain optimistic that it can help. I look forward to my next session and continuing down the road to tackling the underlying issues of my anxiety. I’ll keep you posted — Surfs Up!