Surgery downtime and EMDR therapy breakthroughs

I’ve had surgery for trigger finger, so I can’t work right now

I’ve had trigger finger in my left ring finger for over three years. The finger would either lock in the bent position or wouldn’t bend at all. It was painful in either position, so surgery was needed. I have four stitches and can’t get my hand wet until it heals. Needless to say, I can’t get any work done. My work is wet and messy with lots of gluing and wetting the paper. The cleanups during and after work each day can be quite the splash fest. I did try to do small things like prime a few new substrates, but it overworked the tendon just holding the pieces with my left hand, so I had to stop.

I feel like this is putting me behind on my goals which has triggered anxiety and worry and then into the spiral of worst-case scenarios. With nothing to do to keep my hands and mind occupied, my mind wanders into dangerous territory. This might explain my waking up with noticeable depression on Memorial day. I was fearful that the momentum that I’ve gained in the last few months would be lost. Everything is on hold. The creative flow that I had enjoyed had to just stop. I withdrew from my studio out of frustration, and so in place of work, I watched way too much TV and spent even more time on the internet trying to fill the time. And even though I did get some reading done, I could feel my brains turning to mush. I get the stitches removed soon, and I am so ready to get back to work.

Weekly therapy

Legal Disclaimer -I am not an EMDR therapy expert. This is only an account of my experiences with EMDR therapy. Please consult a psychiatrist or licensed therapist for more information.

One of my ongoing therapies is weekly EMDR sessions. That’s Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. “EMDR therapy is a phased, focused approach to treating traumatic and other symptoms by reconnecting the client in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution. It is based on the idea that symptoms occur when trauma and other negative or challenging experiences overwhelm the brain’s natural ability to heal, and that the healing process can be facilitated and completed through bilateral stimulation while the client is re-experiencing the trauma in the context of the safe environment of the therapist’s office (dual awareness).”, as quoted from

The EMDR process

When processing emotions or trauma through EMDR as guided by my therapist, I close my eyes and focus on the emotion or trauma while my therapist controls alternating hemispherical stimulation of the brain. There are different means of stimulating the brain for this purpose. With eye movement, one follows the therapist’s hand moving back and forth left to right or follows flashing lights back and forth on a computer screen if processing remotely. There is also the method of vibrating palm pads that are held in each hand, and sound in headphones. My therapist pairs his smartphone with my earbuds and uses an EMDR app that plays a clicking sound sort of like a metronome. The clicks alternate back and forth in my left ear, then right. I am guided through several two to three minute sessions with breaks in between to discuss what I feel or saw.

These sessions are emotionally intense, but also enlightening. It’s as if my brain is able to compartmentalize the emotions, thus helping with, or eliminating the negative emotions altogether. I sometimes get a profound understanding of the emotions and of the people who I feel have caused me harm.

I sometimes, however, draw a blank. I just sit there staring into the blackness. But then, I see symbols created by my unconscious mind. I have visualized my face in a dark corner, so I turned to the right only to see another dark corner. I then turned completely around and saw light coming from another room, so I followed the light. For me, this symbolized where I was and where I’m going.

In one session I just saw a tall arrow pointing straight up. What could this mean? Through talking it out with my therapist, I realized that this was symbolic of my need to spend more time on spiritual and self-care practices. We had been discussing this earlier in the session. In my last session, I saw a winding black river running through a long dark valley stretched out before me. This represented where I’ve been for so long through depression, isolation, and anxiety. I then saw the foot of a mountain illuminated in bright sunlight. There was a clear delineation between the dark and the light like a cloudy day giving way to sunshine. I realized that what I’ve been through has made me strong enough to climb the mountain. Do you like cheese? HA! So strong, in fact, that I could see myself reaching for the hands of others and trying to pull them up the mountain with me. The brain, huh?

This has helped me to better understand how my life is in transition and that I’m moving in the right direction. All in all, I would say that EMDR is helping me to put my emotions and past traumas in order so that they can be stored away properly.

Have any of you experienced a remarkable breakthrough while in EMDR therapy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

I use recycled materials to create art that you will need.

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