Today, we welcome a guest blog by Certified EDMR Therapist and Registered Social Worker, Kirsten Dizort. Kirsten offers counselling services and EDMR Therapy to persons in Sarnia, ON out her office at Inner Calm Counseling at 155 Front St. She specialises in working with pregnant or postpartum persons and helps them overcome "stuck" memories of traumatic events, so they can enjoy parenting fully and in the moment.
The transition to parenthood is one of the biggest adjustments a person or couple can go through. Filled with so many conflicting emotions! We all have hopes and dreams about how becoming a mom or dad will feel, what it will look like, the things we’ll do/not do, how our families will function, etc. There are also many variables outside of our control that happen when people start to create their family especially with pregnancy and childbirth. When or if a couple can get pregnant or maintain pregnancy, how the birthing person will feel physically and emotionally before and after birth and adjusting to the needs of an unpredictable infant are all unknown factors.
Each pregnancy and birth experience is so unique but what is known is that unpredictability is part of becoming and being a parent. Unfortunately, what can happen is that the perinatal period (before and after birth) are ideal situations for things that feel sudden, overwhelming and dangerous to occur. When this happens, we can get stuck in those frozen moments of fear and terror. Each person’s perception on what feels sudden, overwhelming, and dangerous is also very unique. Here a few examples of experiences that have greater risk of being stuck:
- difficult/high risk/unplanned pregnancy
- complications during birth and recovery
- premature birth and NICU stays
- birth trauma
- postpartum mood disorder symptoms
- experiencing a loss in the perinatal period (loss of loved one, pet, job, or a move)
- low levels of support (from partner, family, etc.)
- abusive relationships
- problems with breastfeeding
- history of: depression, anxiety, and previous unresolved grief/loss and trauma.
As a trauma therapist I work with people who have ‘stuck’ experiences. The best way to think about an experience being stuck in your brain is this: no matter how much you talk about it, walk about it, or get sleep on it... it is still upsetting to you. The incident is replayed and rehashed in your mind, but it doesn’t feel resolved or complete. It keeps coming back and when it does it feels like you’re reliving those frozen moments or experiences.
Your brain registers anything that gets stuck as a trauma. Little things and big things can get stuck. Everyone has stuck stuff! On the flip side of the coin is a need to get away from
reminders/triggers of the event. Avoidance, distraction, minimizing are all ways that humans try to cope with upsetting experiences. This flip flop in your brain of intrusive thoughts and trying to avoid is a classic sign of trauma. This is where EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy comes in to play.
EMDR is the treatment of choice for any experience that gets stuck in your brain. The
experience of depression, anxiety, loss/grief, and other experiences of emotional instability are also not stored in the brain in an adaptive way and respond incredibly well to EMDR treatment.
What we know about stuck experiences is that these events are not stored in an adaptive way in your memory networks. After treatment the events are stored appropriately in long-term memory and when you think about the experience it feels like a memory, no longer feels disturbing, and no longer says anything negative about you. Resolution and healing are possible! Our brains are designed to heal. We now know how to resolve stuck experiences and it’s not by talking about it to death. The protocol to reprocess a stuck event in EMDR therapy is very methodical and thorough. Most often eye movements are used to help a person link adaptive information in the brain to the upsetting event. The theory
behind the eye movements is that it seems to replicate REM (rapid eye movement) dream sleep which is the state of sleep that resolves emotional content from the day. Resolving stuck events is not about forgetting. You can’t forget a difficult memory but the meaning it has for self and how you see the world afterwards can absolutely shift.
If you are struggling with anything that is stuck in your brain, please reach out for help. Resolving what is stuck will give you an opportunity to experience being a parent from a present perspective with all the joys and happiness that is there rather than being stuck in frozen moments. If you have further questions or comments my contact information is below. I would be delighted to help you!
Mother and Sol would like to thank Kirsten for writing this guest blog about EDMR Therapy, you can get in contact with her through email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (519) 381-6221