Over the next 6 weeks, I would return to the hospital for EMDR Therapy. Each session involved talking about my deliriums and everything else I’d experienced, in minuscule detail. Things were still coming to the surface that I didn’t even know about. It was like diving into a pool of unknown thoughts. I had to immerse myself every time, I had to put myself back in the moment so that I could remember it all. It was draining. Sometimes I would break down, unable to continue but I was encouraged to keep going and I knew that if I stopped, starting again would be even harder.
My eyes would follow the light and I would find myself getting sleepy, getting lost in a strange inexplainable world. At the end of each session the psychologist would guide my mind to a calming place, to allow my brain to settle down before leaving. For hours after I would be left feeling drained, often not remembering the drive home. I would spend the following days trying to make sense of the therapy and that often made it worse!
I would always arrive at the hospital early so that I could walk the long way around, just to avoid going through ‘that’ entrance. As I walked through the hospital there was always something strangely comforting – it felt like home, it felt safe. I would often walk pass faces I recognised; porters who took me to endless scans, doctors assistants and phlebotomists, housekeeping, nurses and HCA’s. Some would remember me and stop to chat, others just looked at me as though my face was familiar but not enough to say hello!
One day, as I arrived for an appointment, I became aware that it was strange how I was now able to walk through the hospital with relatively few issues. The sweaty palms, the panic and breathlessness had started to disappear without me realising.
My challenge (one of many!) at the start of my treatment was to be able to walk through the door that so far I’d been unable to go through. It was my Everest, and it was time to conquer it.
Week 7, the usual Friday afternoon appointment and I decided to climb ‘Everest’. I stood across the road; opposite the door I’d been avoiding for so long. I looked up at the building, in my head imagining all the times I’d gone through the entrance with drip stands and physios or returning from spending Christmas day at home. I had to do this. I took a deep breath and began walking across the road. I looked up at the building, tall and grey, telling myself that I would be walking back out in about an hour and going home. I could feel the fear and panic building, the tears filling my eyes, but I kept walking. Clenching my fists and breathing deeply (I was good at breathing to calm myself by now!), I walked through the door.
I walked to the side of the corridor and grabbed the handrail. I cried tears of joy about what I’d just overcome. Something so insignificant yet something so huge. I composed myself and booked in for my appointment. When the psychologist came to collect me, I jumped up with excitement and shouted very loudly ‘I’ve just walked through the door’! I think she shared my excitement, perhaps in not such an obvious way, but the patients in the waiting room had no idea what was going on!
But this session was about to be even more significant.
I was in the now familiar scenario of recalling my deliriums whilst following a light. For the first time, I didn’t feel anxious and was still reeling from walking through the door! About halfway through the session though, something happened. I felt a ‘shunt’ in my head, as though something had moved. I grabbed onto the arm of the chair wondering if it was an earth tremor! I sat in stunned silence for a few seconds, eyes wide open when the psychologist asked if I was ok. I mumbled something about a feeling in my head, something moving from the front of my head to the back….. She smiled at me in a sort of comforting, understanding way and said ‘Ah…. that might be the box’!
Now, I am terrible for showing my thoughts in my facial expressions and my face must’ve been a picture, because I was now even more confused! A box?!!!!
At the start of my sessions, I was told that my thoughts would go into a theoretical box in my brain where they would be stored. I could retrieve these thoughts at any time, but they would no longer scare me or cause anxiety. It appears that the movement in my head that I felt was some sort of psychological experience, of the moving of my ‘box’ of thoughts from the front of my head to the back. EMDRR processes thoughts and moves them from the front of the brain to the rear, in the same way that we process things when we sleep…..
This was a breakthrough – the beginning of my psychological recovery. The EMDR was working, I was making progress and I could feel myself at the summit of Everest.
So many things are needed to be overcome in recovery. Being discharged is often just the beginning. Sometimes it’s the insignificant things such as my fear of walking through a door, that can be the hardest to overcome. The biggest battles can sometimes be the smallest, the battles that others don’t see….