Case Study: EMDR Treatment – Alani

Case Study: EMDR Treatment – Alani

After her son was hit by a distracted driver, and in ICU for 6 weeks, Alani developed PTSD. She underwent EMDR treatment and in this case study, she explains her experience with EMDR and how it ‘changed her life’.

“I developed PTSD after my son was hit by a distracted driver at Christmas in 2019. He suffered a massive brain bleed and was given 50/50 chance of survival – it wasn’t looking good. He spent 6 weeks in ICU fighting for his life; in and out of comas and infection after infection.  I didn’t know if my son was going to survive the day, nearly everyday.

I was diagnosed with PTSD a few months after it happened, and at that stage, my score was 69. I couldn’t talk about what happened without breaking down. I couldn’t read the medical reports that the solicitor sent me. I was irritable, snappy, restless and my sleep was horrendous. The smallest thing would make me want to give up. I even cleared my house of unwanted stuff so that if I did succeed in taking my life, my kid’s wouldn’t have to do it. I couldn’t see a way out and my future looked grim as a mother of a TBI survivor and my younger son who has autism.

On the day of my trauma, I was on the same road as my son when he got hit. He was at the pub down the road from where I was at the time. I saw the police and ambulance fly past and then the helicopter.  I knew it was bad but didn’t think it was my son.
Because of this, before EMDR I froze when I heard a helicopter or sirens and would have a panic attack. I didn’t want to drive anymore either.

The fear and panic was debilitating,  I could feel my heart thumping through my blood stream and shake uncontrollably, I just wanted to run and scream.

I started EMDR therapy nearly 6 months ago, usually weekly except school holidays, with a private clinical psychologist , it took some time to get my anxiety under control as there was still so much going on with my sons recovery and his case. But when we started the EMDR my life changed!
We used the beeping method with headphones on (beeps in the left and right ear alternately). I relived getting the phone call, but it was hard – I just broke down, so we stopped. The therapist asked where I ‘felt’ it, and I could feel the emotions in my throat, chest and stomach. We did it again, stopped after a short while and was asked again where I felt it. After the 3rd or 4th time I didn’t feel anything in those places. I actually laughed, I couldn’t believe it.
I know EMDR has worked for me; I can talk about it without breaking down or getting anxious and my voice trembles. I could tell my therapist about the phone call, the doctors telling me that my son may not survive and then seeing him ventilated and sedated with tubes everywhere, without breaking down. See! I’ve just typed it here and I’m fine, no shakes, no tears!! Amazing!!!
I was never a willing driver, coming from South Africa I’ve lost a lot of loved ones to the roads there. I learnt to drive because my autistic son didn’t cope well on public transport. I used to get really anxious if I had to do a journey I was unsure of and often not go at all. Since EMDR I’ve found myself using roundabouts I would drive 2 miles to avoid, with no anxiety. I actually only realised I had done it when I was over it!
I feel free from the chains of anxiety and all the other stuff trauma brings. I’d recommend EMDR to anyone dealing with trauma, it’s changed my life.”

Photo by Valdemars Magone on Unsplash

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It is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy – but the main treatment options in the UK are psychological treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

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