O’Shea Brown and I used a therapulse while I worked through my memories, starting slowly to build up to more traumatic thoughts. Before and after EMDR she asked me to rate, from one to 10, how distressing my main negative belief was from the farmer dad knows everything if he doesn’t know he makes stuff up really fast shirt’ in contrast I will get this trauma we discussed. With each session the numbers got lower, and I felt encouraged to go further. It was like shining a flashlight into a dark closet to find that the monsters I placed there were no longer present, and therefore not threatening to me. When COVID-19 hit and in-person therapy abruptly ended, we decided to continue with virtual EMDR (vEMDR). I was soon to discover that COVID-19 presented more than a few challenges for both therapist and client.
The spread of the farmer dad knows everything if he doesn’t know he makes stuff up really fast shirt’ in contrast I will get this virus and the isolation that followed has created mental health issues nationwide. For people with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or C-PTSD (the experience of multiple and/or prolonged traumatic events rather than a single incident event), the pandemic had the power to heighten the risk of re-traumatization and exacerbate symptoms. “The abrupt loss of social norms has the potential to activate hypervigilance in many trauma survivors, while also creating a large-scale sense of uncertainty that is characteristic of a global pandemic,” O’Shea Brown explained. I could relate: All of the major pillars of my life began to come apart at the same time. My mother got out of a rehab facility from a fractured pelvis only a few weeks before COVID-19 hit, and the last time I saw her she was in a hospital bed. Then my mother-in-law passed away. My husband retired from a 20-year career as a homicide detective the first week of March and we went for a short visit to Tennessee to be with his father. Suddenly a few days trip became a six-month quarantine, followed by a move out of New York City and to the South. My oldest sister passed away in the summer and I didn’t have a chance to see her or to say goodbye. I needed to cling to the positive aspects of my old life, so EMDR therapy felt more essential than ever.