Case Study: EMDR Treatment - Darren
Darren* was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of a medical emergency and underwent EMDR treatment which he says has ‘undoubtedly changed his life’.
(*Please note, names have been changed for the privacy of our contributors).
In 2009 I was a fit 54 year old, but I suffered a ruptured aortic artery. This life-threatening situation and emergency surgery resulting in my PTSD.
Having always considered myself as quite strong minded I easily convinced myself that my disturbed state of mind would be something I could control. I spent the following 8 years avoiding discussing my worsening state of mind and trying to escape reliving the trauma on an a daily and sometimes hourly basis – it was getting unbearable.
One day, my PTSD came to a shocking and terrifying head. While walking into town I heard sirens from an ambulance approaching as it got next to me, I froze on the spot, wet myself and trembled from head to foot.
With encouragement from my wife and son I referred myself to Steps To Wellbeing (an initiative by Southampton and Dorset NHS trust) and was diagnosed with PTSD (2017). I had 10 weeks of treatment involving reliving my trauma, my trigger issues (mainly sirens) and health services (doctors/hospital appointments etc). Having had the chance to offload my fears and the coping strategies I had learnt I felt in a better state of mind to start enjoying life again.
Within a few months I unfortunately had more panic attacks and very disturbed sleep patterns. I signed myself up for group counselling sessions which were excellent and although I had reservations beforehand, I felt comfortable in a small group discussing other people’s coping strategies and the information I obtained was indeed very useful.
At the end of the sessions at a meeting with the counsellors it was suggested that EMDR would be suitable for my condition.
In the short time I waited for my EMDR to begin I researched the procedure and totally believed in its effectiveness and that it was suitable for me. At my first session I felt comfortable with my therapist and they explained how the sessions would proceed, what to expect and the aim of how it may help me.
Before my third session I forced myself to relive one of my most uncomfortable trauma memories. Later whist following her sideways finger movements I experienced quite violent body jerks and trembling legs, immediately afterwards I had a slight headache and slept for many hours when I got home. This happened for the following 5 or 6 sessions until I realised my panic attack triggers were noticeably diminishing.
The EMDR treatment has undoubtedly changed my life, I am now only slightly wary of my past triggers and to this date have not experienced another panic attack.
I would highly recommend EMDR as an effective treatment for PTSD sufferers, I think the more in depth I relived my trauma the more beneficial my outcome has been.
I finished EMDR at the end of 2018 (I think). Since then, I have managed to ‘repay’ the NHS by donating some of my artwork which is now permanently on display in Dorchester Hospital.
Before EMDR I honestly believed I would live the rest of my days in an ‘on edge’ state of mind, I’m relieved to say that this is now not the case.
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Treatments for PTSD
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).
Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD. You can find out more in the links below, or here.