Working on Hyper Vigilance
I’ve been reading a really good book recently.
“The body keeps the score: Mind, brain and body in the transformation of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk. He is a psychiatrist who has worked for years with people who have been through severe traumatic events.
Whilst having a good relationship with a therapist and talking about trauma is one form of treatment, he makes the point that ‘talking it through’ can only do so much and other forms of treatment to rewire the brain and for the body to relearn responses are very important and may be even more effective.
A while back I recognised that I have hyper vigilance following a difficult childhood and rather than more talking therapy I have been using yoga, TRE and massages to help release the chronic muscle tension in my head, neck and shoulders.
These methods have all been very helpful but I was interested in his description of EMDR. It is a form of rapid eye movement therapy that has been a surprising success in treating PTSD. The science is unclear but it is thought that it is connected with REM sleep and the way the brain does it’s neurological housekeeping.
I watched a session on youtube and and decided to give it a go. A DIY version would you believe (don’t try this at home folks, they even tell you not to!). I tried using a stick, waved in front of my eyes and then switched to alternate tapping.
So far I’ve experienced a big upsurge in feeling those muscles in my neck, head, back and shoulders as well as feelings of anxiety and sadness. I believe the technique is bringing these symptoms to the surface and hopefully they can then dissipate. I am cautiously optimistic that as they recede I have a feeling of increased well being, but it has been a bit of a roller coaster so far.
When I post this post at the end of next week I will be able to say how it’s going.
If nothing else, I like the sensation of alternate tapping, it might be a good way for me to “ground” myself when I start going off in a stressful spiral.
I have 2 knots on either side of my neck that I know very well. I’ve gradually been working on them over the years and it would be wonderful if I could lose them, fingers crossed!
Update at end of week
Well it has been a rollercoaster week, maybe other things in play as well as doing EMDR but I think overall it has been very helpful. The downside is that these emotions and tensions don’t just evaporate, they come to the surface to be re-experienced in a big way, so I’ve had to sit with some very uncomfortable feelings and sensations before coming out the other side.
In the trauma book it states clearly that people who experience trauma in childhood are statistically far more likely to be subject to further abuse as adults, for various reasons.
I had the painful realisation that my hypervigilance has actually made me MORE vulnerable rather than less throughout life. I think it acts as a marker of vulnerability that can be read by a sexual predator. I have a strong record of avoiding / fighting off /running from unwanted attentions but I would have preferred not to have had those awkward or difficult situations in the first place.
It is time to let it go.
On the plus side, I'm creatively fizzing!