I apologize that I have been slack on writing on this blog about my counseling. While it’s no excuse, work has been quite stressful, and with a puppy who has hit his terrible two’s a bit early, my hands are quite full. However, I have some time to write and figured I would fill you in on what’s been going on in my counseling sessions.
Counseling Session 3 – Intro to EDMR
So in this session, we did some more preliminary work before beginning EMDR. In order to start, you have to answer a series of questions that basically determines how in tune you are with yourself.
These basically are things like “Some people say that when they drive, they realize they have gone from one place to another and are not sure how they got there” or “Some people say that they find items that they don’t remember buying.” Once she asked me about 25 questions, she said she felt I was going to be a good candidate, which was reassuring. Turns out that it’s interesting trying to look inside yourself and see if you really are in touch.
So then, we began talking about how it worked. She was going to move her hand back and forth and ask me to follow her fingers. She would do this for varying intervals, 10 seconds to 1 minute, and then stop, asking me what I was thinking about. The idea was to focus on some negative belief I had about myself regarding the phobia and then just let my mind go wherever it needed to go. I’ll get more into this in my next section.
The primary focus of this session was to find my safe place. This is a place I create in my mind where I feel happiest, most relaxed and most carefree. It could be anything, anywhere, but it just had to be where I felt safest and most relaxed. What I found so interesting about this exercise was how much it affected me and my feelings. She would ask me to focus on the place (which I described in detail just a few minutes before) and then would move her fingers back and forth. The final question was always, “Tell me where you are feeling things.” This helped me localize where my happiness was, and was great for my self awareness.
Overall, my first experience with EMDR was a success. I was excited to keep trying this new technique and to see what it would do for my phobia.
Counseling Session 4: Full Fledged EMDR Session
Now is where the real work began. All the prep work and questioning led up to this moment, because we were going to do our first full EMDR session. I was excited but nervous, because I heard that for some individuals this could be very intense, bringing up a lot of emotion and stress. We jumped right in though, and here’s how it worked.
Firstly, we identified 3 of my most pivotal moments in my phobia – or in other words, the most traumatic moments. For me, it was when I was 4 and had my tonsils removed (I’ll spare you the details, but it was two months of hell), when my husband (then boyfriend) got the dreaded “N” word, and when I was trapped in a car with my mom as she got sick all over the back seat of the car. We also talked about some of the negative beliefs I had associated with this phobia, such as not being in control or I don’t know if I’ll be okay.
We decided to start with my 4 year old episode and the idea that I was out of control, and from there it just spider webbed. I went from that moment, to medicines, to the bathroom, to the kitchen, to a car accident my husband and I stopped to helped with. They were all connected by one small item from the previous, and yet all still related to the phobia or some other negative belief.
The coolest thing that came from this session was how I discovered something I believed that I didn’t even realize was about the phobia, which was “I feel like I should be able to handle this better.” That statement was made about my work situation, and how it’s related to my family life (that’s an entirely different blog haha) but it some how came back to my phobia. I honestly do feel like I could be handling it better, but something is stopping me.
My biggest concern with EMDR is I’m not sure I’m doing it right, which I know sounds ridiculous but it’s true. I feel like I should be feeling more, but I’m not. I have this concern, and maybe I should bring it up at my appointment next week, that maybe I’m too separated from the phobia for EMDR to work. I say that because the idea of EMDR is to evaluate how much distress a situation from the past causes you by just thinking about it. And for me, typically it’s not the actual situation that causes me distress… it’s the fear of it happening again. Perhaps it’s the same thing, but I find that when she asks me to focus on how a situation is affecting me now, I always go well it’s like a 1. Which she sees as huge progress, but I’m wondering if it’s just because I’ve already internalized that moment. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
One thing I just noticed after writing this out, is how all three events from my past show the facets of the phobia: myself getting sick, my fear of catching something (like the norovirus or some other bug) and then someone else getting sick. It’s strange how even almost two weeks after my last session, I am still kind of processing things and internalizing how this phobia affects my entire being.
Most notably, I think I’ve realized I have a fear of getting sick in public and other people thinking it’s funny or making fun of me. I find when I’m by myself and that feeling strikes, while it is still a moment of panic, I almost don’t freak out as much. And when I do have other people around, I want to distance myself from them, whether that’s because I’m afraid of them laughing or being scared of it like me, or because I’d rather be alone when it happens.
I really love opening up to you guys about my personal experiences with my counseling and my phobia. Not only does it help me work through situations that I would otherwise talk my husband’s ear off with, but it allows you to go “wow, she feels that way too” and not feel so isolated. For emetophobia to be such a common phobia, it’s such a shame that we feel so isolated and misunderstood, and I hope that this blog has helped people with not just my phobia but anxiety in general realize that this is something you can work through and still live a normal life. So I hope that this is as helpful for you as it is for me.
Which leads me to my final thought of the day. I want to devote an entire blog post to this, but it’ll be short, but I wanted to at least start that process now. I had a realization that I actually don’t know how it feels to feel sick to my stomach without feeling panic. It was a thought I had while eating dinner with my husband and I feel like, for some reason, this discovering is important.
Okay, well I think that is everything for today. My final question: with summer approaching, are there any summertime topics you’d like me to discuss in my blog? I know that travel is a huge aspect of the summer, and that can sometimes be scary for people with emetophobia. Anything you can come up with, leave it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to touch on them throughout the summer 🙂
Until next time internet!
If you would like to email me, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours, but if for some reason I cannot get back to you in that time frame, I promise I will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!
Lastly, I run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle I am passionately engaged in. The group is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.