Too damaged

I spoke with my EMDR therapist last night for the first time in a couple of months. I described the problems I’ve had since the initial session, including significantly increased periods of dissociation and complete loss of memory; two onslaughts of 20-50 long-forgotten memories each; and physical pain. She told me these were major red flags because “We weren’t even digging, we were doing safety stuff. It was supposed to enhance your safety!” She told me she didn’t think EMDR would be a good idea because of the red flags. She explained (as I had found in research recently) that EMDR is most helpful for one-time traumas occurring in adulthood. With complex trauma, the brain has spent years learning to protect itself- EMDR reverses the protections and can easily send a complex trauma survivor into a tailspin. She said case studies she’s read show that complex trauma survivors have needed EMDR for upwards of 3 years before improvement is evident. She said that before EMDR, complex trauma survivors would learn to manage the feelings and memories as it slowly comes back, and would often be in therapy for years and years.

So those are my two options. Be in therapy for years upon years and feel like I do now… Or dive in head-first and break my neck because flooding is a reckless idea in my situation. Receiving real EMDR would cause my brain to break down its protections and I’d basically fall apart. She said that to help me manage my physical pain she could refer me to a chiropractor for massages and pressure point therapy, but that this could trigger stronger body memories than I’m currently having.

It is discouraging to be told I’m too damaged for a type of therapy. It’s also discouraging that I have a long long road to recovery. I am already exhausted. How much more can I endure?

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5 thoughts on “Too damaged

  1. I feel like every direction we can go from here is like climbing mt Everest. Everything involves things getting worse before it gets better. But when you feel like you’re already crumbling, where does that leave us? Sorry you feel this too, my dear

  2. I understand why you feel like your therapist is saying you’re “too damaged” for EMDR, but I would encourage you not to think of yourself that way. Different therapies function differently for different people. It’s just not a good fit. I, too, deal with the frustration of trying to find help that works after surviving multiple prolonged and acute traumas. It can be so frustration because the services are not as readily available, but it’s about the problems with normative therapy methods, not with you.

  3. I hear you, I so so hear you. I am feeling much of this myself too. And I’m so sorry you are…it’s so unbearably hard isn’t it?! Thinking of you and sending you lots of love xx

  4. Many people are not able to dive right in to EMDR due to multiple traumas and this in no way means you are too damaged! It just means it’s not the best approach right now, which is a great thing to know so you can be effective in your treatment. I find DBT an excellent set of skills that help prepare for trauma work. Wishing you deep healing and compassion for yourself in the process.

  5. I think a long road to recovery is better than never starting. I keep wondering where I would be if I had started therapy when I turned 18 or 21 or 25. I would be so much further along. But I have started now. And that is what really matters.

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