DeSha shares how EMDR therapy has changed her life, what sessions are like, and offers advice for anyone interested in trying it for themselves. We also talk about some seldom discussed somatic symptoms of PTSD and trauma that can leave people doubting themselves and feeling alone. DeSha is an editorial & lifestyle photographer, and a loving partner and mother.
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Hi, thank you so much for joining me. I'm Hecate, and this is Finding OK, a healing podcast for survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I am here today with DeSha and we’ll be discussing some somatic symptoms of trauma and PTSD. And we'll also be talking about DeSha’s journey with EMDR therapy.
*Intro Music by Ramshackle Glory* 00:21
I had an amazing talk with DeSha and we covered a number of issues and subjects and I've decided to turn our talk into separate episodes. So, more on that later. We did have some technical difficulties. It happens. My apologies. So there's a section of audio that's a different quality mid episode. And now.
*Sound of a singing bowl being struck* 00:58
Trigger and content warnings for this episode include the following: PTSD, trauma, and panic attacks. Check in with yourself, make sure you're all right to continue. Thank you so much for coming.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited.
Are you OK?
I am. And I'm I'm even happy. That's a really serious thing I can say right now, is I'm not only OK, I'm happy.
Hecate 01:28 That's awesome. That's beautiful. And I would love to hear a compliment that you've received that you've never forgotten.
DeSha 01:36 I was hanging out with a friend and he actually said to me, I love the way it feels to talk to you. And then I asked, well, what do you mean? And he said, you have a European style of communicating with ease and it's fun and engaging and sometimes even entertaining. I liked that. So it was a touching compliment.
Hecate 02:03 What is your favorite color or favorite color combination and what do you associate with it?
Summertime. I'm really into bright orange color and that kind of sunflower yellow sunflowers seem like the most therapeutic and majestic type of flower to look at. They're all kinds of sizes. They're all gorgeous and just that beautiful yellow rich and that bright orange color, almost like an earth tone, but brighter.
If I had to summon you in a ritual, what five things would I need to place as offerings at each point of the pentagram on the floor?
DeSha 02:44 Mm hmm. I think I would need to have some organic green tea. A Moxibustion stick.
And can you explain what that is?
It's essentially it's rolled mugwort. It's using a couple different types of medicine. The one I'm more familiar with would be Chinese medicine. It's really relaxing and I enjoy the process of moxa and it's nice to always have, that is a very strong scent. I think I have to say that. And I imagine if you were conjuring me or like asking me to come in, that you would have this strong scent of mugwort. And I would I would be able to get that pick up on that. And then a record player and I would say you would most likely find me if you happened to get a hold of a copy of Almost Famous, then maybe you could pick up a copy of The Web That Has No Weaver. It's one of my favorites. It's it's like poetry. It's not exactly an easy read if someone is maybe unfamiliar with different types of Chinese medicine theory, but it's got such a flow to it. I would check it out. Let me know if you like it.
And what are three essentials for your self care?
Tea. Yeah, drinking tea. And that makes sense. I just want to put that out there, especially because I have a lot of resistance to being able to share my voice as someone who's been through a fair amount. And tea is very warming. And I personally choose to drink a variety of tea that might be mineral rich, you know, and provide other types of nutrients and the heat as well is good. You know what I mean?
So tea, and music. Music is a foundational thing. Listening to music and playing music, writing it. Bilateral beats might count as music, like sound healing. Right. Sitar.
And maybe a third one that I think is essential is being alone. Trying to find that five minutes, that thirty minutes to actually have a moment to myself where I'm not doing chores and I'm not working on something. That's tricky, but it's the best medicine for me. It's essential.
Yeah, well, and it gets harder to have that when you're a parent as well.
Indeed. Yes. They heard correctly. *both laugh*
Well, thank you for those. Those are beautiful.
Yeah. Thanks for asking. I think there those are quality questions. So I really appreciate you having such great questions to make me think a little bit too.
Well, thank you. We happened to be having a conversation and I mentioned something that I had experienced and I had never found anybody else who could relate to it until I happened to mention it to you. This doesn't happen to me anymore. I'm doing a lot better. But when I used to have PTSD related flashbacks or panic attacks, I would have these really severe muscle spasms. And for me, they would seem to center around my middle to lower back like just under my ribcage, and I would go into really strong convulsions. And it was really isolating because when I brought it up with doctors and asked questions to the people that I was receiving treatment from, no one had any answers for me. And that made me feel like I was making it up or like it was something that I was doing for attention, even though this would happen when I was completely alone, not just when I was around people. And you mentioned that you had some similar experiences. So I would love to talk to you about that. If this is happening to anybody else, if this can help them feel less alone or if that can validate their experience. I would love to be able to offer this conversation to them.
I felt personally scared when something like that was happening to me. How is your body moving? Like, how is the body moving? And I'm not really telling it to consciously. From my understanding, the somatic response is subconscious. The subconscious doesn't understand a timeline and our waking and conscious self understands Monday through Friday and what was a few years ago. But when trauma is happening, the wild thing about it is the body believes it's happening at present. You’re in a state of trauma. And in some situations I've turned that into the word, “I'm in a phase of trauma” because I notice that if I can handle the ride of it, then I can be less judgmental on myself. Because for me, when I'm trembling in fear, you know, that's really not that uncommon. Right. But for me, when it's happening, if there's so much fear that I'm feeling, my hands are just shaking I’m trembling. I'm looking for this way to anchor in and calm down. And I'm telling myself to behave differently than what's authentic in that moment. I'm telling myself to stop. I'm telling myself, “DeSha, you're making this up. Get a hold of yourself!” You know? or someone might tell me, you know, “Come on, calm down already! You're trembling!” and there is love there. I'm a loving person and I have some self-love. I have love I put at myself and I can hear that people who might say, “Hey, maybe it's all in your head or it's just it's not really happening. It's not happening right now!” They're coming from a place of love. And those states of trauma, or phases, when someone else is phasing through their their cycle, it actually triggers other people. It puts people on alert on a on a level of frequency, you know, like a wild animal that there's a predator about, perhaps, or something worth feeling this way over. Because we're detecting it from each other. *laugh* So it's such a web of a mess. And I think the hardest part is to on the inside to say, “It's OK, this is happening. Yes. I want to know why I'm going to get through this.” And then it should stop. It should stop. Last year I had a situation in 2019 where it did not stop and it was very difficult to find myself in that window of tolerance. In that yes window. I was unable to turn off that somatic like reflex. Yeah. So I yeah I know what you're talking about and I'm not really sure if you've heard of other ways people talk about it. I mean I've heard it like an example, like a physical tic or trembling or shaking or I don't know if you have heard anything else used for that other than what I've just said?
I've heard a few different things and when people talk about PTSD and symptoms, when it comes to physical stuff, you know, or muscular stuff, twitches or tics, trembling, those things are much more commonly acknowledged or talked about because they're tied to more like your baseline normal panic attack.
Or if somebody’s in, you know, in that hyper vigilance like fight or flight, freeze, appease, you know, however you want to say it like that activated, triggered state. But then when it came to really extremes, I went searching again before before our discussion to see if, hey, like is there is there an article that mentions this? That I can find, that I can cite that I can make available and I'm still having a really hard time finding anything. The only thing I ever found was I found one article once which has disappeared into the ether.
Oh! Isn’t that… That’s so challenging it is.
I can’t find it again uh now that I’m actually doing this. It is. But it talked about stored trauma within the body. It talked about it in terms of when somebody goes through a trauma and during the time of trauma, they freeze or repress their physical response and don't allow themselves immediately post trauma to release that tension or that trauma that it's stored in the body and then years later can come out in surprising ways and in unusual ways, such as muscle spasms. And it cited specifically convulsions or muscle spasms in this article that I can never find.
Yeah, we'll find it. We'll find it. It did not disappear. It's there's actually there's a lot of research actively happening on this. That's kind of the dirt I’m uncovering. And because people people are very interested in learning how to rewire redirect these impulses or misfiring of the brain. Perhaps, and some of the text I found from within the past 10 years of study, there's a mention that a somatic response is extremely rare. And I personally don't think that's true.
I would agree with that seems untrue.
I kind of consider it as a an underreported thing, more so. People don't know what's going on. I mean, I'm from originally my mother is southern and so once upon a time ago, my family lived in the South. Look, see my accent wants to just creep on out. Yeah, well, anyway, when my mother would get upset and she told me her mother too, we would say, “Oh, it's just nerves. She's got nerves.” The other common phrase, which if anyone at all finds this in their vocabulary, it is so worth the effort just to tell yourself to try saying something different. I would always hear my mother say, I love you, Mom, but, you know, that's your great teacher right there. And she would say, “Your behavior's making me sick.” And then she'd hear the news. And there's always these tragic stories on the news and she'd see it and she, you know, she couldn't shake it. Essentially, the actual reporting of the story was traumatic, you know, triggering for her. And so later on, she'd be shaking her head back and forth and she'd be like, “You know what that person did? That person their their violent actions, their hateful, ugly behavior. It just makes me sick to my stomach and, you know, eh and I can't even eat.” Anyway. The nurture versus nature, Epigenetics, generational trauma, there's clearly something taught here. And because it was so vocally expressed and it was happening to my mother, she was having a somatic response. She would actually get sick. She'd say, this behavior makes me sick and get sick. If I just get kind of quiet and think about it, I see the progression of stress and how we're reinforcing it, how we could be reinforcing it in our lives and eventually we can trick ourselves into behaving in a different way. Right. We can redirect our brain patterns. And our new behavior is to always get sick when there’s stress. And that, I think, is essentially what's happening with somatic issues. It's pent up stress. And eventually also when we keep dealing with new situational stressors and we're having to overcome trauma, whether it be coming of age trauma or whatever, we eventually get pushed and like almost reactivated into how we were taught as children how to handle stress. For me, it makes total sense the more I got to know myself and I understood my family dynamic that I personally would have become so somatic. Being with other children even, growing up and seeing very diverse families. I lived in multiple states across the country for years at a time, and I was always in a public school. My stepfather is actually a very well respected police officer even. So, a lot of a lot of things and dynamics there and stressors. And I came out as a child having to have physical pain in order for people to believe I was hurting and that it was too much more. I think it's possible a lot of people might be able to relate to this information if they only knew that it had words like somatic experiencing.
Hmm. Thank you for sharing some of that. That's interesting looking back through how stress affects the body in our family. Something that comes up is this book that I haven't even read yet, but I hear it's really excellent. Have you read The Body Keeps the Score?
Ok, I was just thinking about that book earlier today. This is very relevant. I have not read the book. I've had it recommended to me several times within the past 10 years or so and the title speaks volumes and I'm interested in diving into that information. And even now with where I'm at in my journey, I'm starting to find myself finally in a place where I'm having that yes brain and I'm able to study and learn and, you know, nurture my mind a little bit. And I am so intrigued and very much invested at this point. So I will read this book and let me know what you think of it.
Yeah, likewise. I feel like I'm ready for it as well. It had been suggested when I was completing my my undergraduate work, I went to a school that had a really great somatic psych department and this was hailed as an excellent resource. And I just I have not picked it up and I think I just wasn't ready and I think I'm ready. So, yeah, I think we just both need to read this fucking book. *laughs*
But yeah, you're right. This this conversation is is happening in certain circles. And there's so much research being done. There's so much work and there's so much, you know, new new recognition that the body does keep the score, that we do store and express stress in ways that we haven't been exploring or acknowledging and in ways that were clear to you, even as a child with your mother, that we we see these things. We understand these things. We experience these things. What I did find when I went looking for articles today was I found a Reddit thread that was full of people with PTSD and trauma who were saying, “I suffer from muscle spasms or these tics or convulsions and you're not alone.” And so it's it's people who are experiencing it that are talking about it more than the professionals that are supposed to be treating them. And that can be really difficult if you don't stumble into that space where survivors are sharing that information and you just feel really alone. It's really easy for for it to feel invalid, for you to feel that what you're experiencing isn't real, that it's psychosomatic, that you're making it up, that you're full of shit, that you're just doing it for attention. And, you know, and you just you cycle into this even darker space than this already, you know, stressed out, triggered fight or flight experience. And you start, you know, this this weird self-hate, self-doubt, shame cycle that just makes everything worse.
Yeah, I went just hearing you talk about it. It made me think about a lot of things. And I'm just kind of welling up with joy and love and compassion. I have joy. I have the joy because I have been digging for more and more research about similar things and all the things related to trauma and how the body's really working. What does it really mean? All of it. It's it's such an active part of medicine right now at medical research. The information is going to get to people. Anyone I meet, I try to go out of my way to say that there are answers now and there are more coming. And there's just there's been such a boom, a burst of information about how our bodies really work and the central nervous system. And there have been new theories like the Poly Vagal theory that have emerged, that has emerged, and different types of therapies because PTSD is such a thing. It's it's so much more of a thing than people even understand. And we have a need to be healthy and safe. And one of the things that I've been doing is basically it's it's called EMDR. It's eye movement desensitization, reprocessing. It's put me in awe so many times. And anyone that I have talked to, I've so far only met people who have nothing but wonderful things to say about it. It's also incredibly brutal, as you could imagine it be spiritually going inside and figuring out your inner truth and having discernment and being able to decipher and distinguish, you know, is this me and who I want to be and who I know myself to be, or is this fear? Even knowing how much we know there's *laugh* the brain is magnificent. Actually. I've been asked to read a book that was called You Are Not Your Brain. And it was recommended to me because I kept being hard on myself and saying things like, well, “I don't want to blink”. The therapy that I'm doing is literally putting my eyes and my body into a state of REM sleep. When we have efficient and effective sleep, a person is able to properly process their day. And so what usually happens is when you're sleeping, your eyes will move and process. You ever see somebody having a bad dream? I have. And they look like they're just looking all over the place. So yeah. Yeah. When it's happening, the the therapy that I'm doing, some of the resources that we have, we use BAUD Therapy, which is a Neurofeedback and brain spotting amongst a few other things. We have the tappers that I actually haven't done the follow the dot. My therapist has been practicing for a really long time and she actually waves her fingers very quickly in front of your eyes and you're supposed to follow them. And it does the same thing. You can imagine being able to have the technology of follow the dot with these lights. It's really going to save people's arms. I mean, legitimately, it's tiring. *Hecate laughs* These are, some of these sessions can go on for two to three hours. So that that would be so tiring to just be waving your hand… anyway!
Yeah. Muscle Fatigue.
Muscle fatigue. Yeah. There's so much happening I can hardly keep up, but I feel before it was a sense of eagerness, but I feel more so invigorated and that I can see and experience tangible studies, know the research is there and I'm experiencing it because I keep showing up with my trauma therapist and I'm very fortunate that I have been able to put together, essentially I have a medical team that works with me. I'm able to in a more holistic sense completely process these age old traumas. It's a lot of work. I mean, for anyone who hasn't experienced it, for me, it's it was like as soon as I was comfortable enough and we and I was able to leave the crisis of the Fight or Flight Freeze or Fawn stages, I noticed that I was in a rhythm and I followed it. And it was as if I had done ten years, fifteen years of healing in ten months. It's impressive.
Miraculous it what it is. Miraculous. It is. It is. It's exciting.
Miraculous! It is! It is! It's exciting. Some sessions I'm together and calm and happy. Sometimes I was hard on myself and thought, “I can't believe I just went in there and cried about this. I don't want to cry about that!”, you know, very similar to when my eyes are blinking and doing all of this work and the work is happening. That's what she keeps telling me, “Read this book, You Are Not Your Brain.” And she also keeps telling me, “Let it happen, trust the process.” And that applies here. So the best thing one can do is to find the appropriate help, guidance. And one of the other things I'll say is that while some people use different instruments from EMDR, I kind of call it like a trauma therapy tool kit. While there are different ways to use it, one of the neat things is it's not a talk based therapy. It's not that you don't talk or you might you might need to honestly. It might be part of your brain healing itself. I actually I know that I've got a neuro feedback machine attached to my head. “I've got to talk about this!” And that sometimes is a part of it. But often times I'm sitting with headphones on in the care of a qualified, experienced professional who's just sitting there to kind of guide me and make sure that maybe I don't stand something too long because I don't, didn't or don't realize I can get out of where I'm at or apply like tappers on my legs or come over and physically just tap on my knees and “Hey, you're here, come back in your body. It's safe to be in your body.” That's probably one of the most important things one could also say to themselves or someone else. “It's safe to be in my body. I'm safe in my body.” Just saying it I feel so much better. *laugh*
That's a hard place for a lot of people to get to is exactly that. “I'm safe in my body.”
Very difficult. And if you can, if you can get into that spot. Wonderful! Now here's the curve ball: Try staying in it! That's the workout.
Mmm hmm. *laughs*
And that's why, personally, I believe that Neurofeedback therapy, you know, EMDR, those types of things are like physical therapy for the central nervous system. I see a future where not only is insurance covering this, but that it's somewhat reclassified and it's just put for what it is. It's it's help. It's like physical therapy. It's a string and series of Neuro Exercises.
*Break music* 26:38
So, if someone were considering EMDR therapy, what advice would you give them?
The most important advice I'd give people is to make sure that to look for a qualified professional, find someone who is a trauma therapist or specializes in trauma therapy. I know that there are a fair amount of therapists that have EMDR training. And from what I understand, EMDR actually follows a pretty consistent protocol. And what's most important is that even though that works, that you have someone who's helping you that you feel connected to in a positive way and they can really hold space for you and actually meet your particular needs through that situation. An example I'd give you is that when I'm getting therapy, my my therapist doesn't actually get too involved. The tools are utilized and we follow those steps and they're consistent. But she lets me actually process by myself. And then I really lucked out to have been able to find the person I found with the type of experience that she had. She has 30 plus years in the world of EMDR and is studying and only focuses on trauma recovery. And we utilize BAUD therapy, *spells BAUD* therapy, which is a Neurofeedback device. And we also do what's called “brain spotting”, which is on the little EMDR tree. And we do a couple other things, too, that a lot of fun and kind of bizarre. Almost like a vision quest experience. A good therapist can tell the different stages. I mean, there needs to be some communication. A couple of times I've had my therapist ask, “Hey, what's going on? I noticed something.” So their supposed to be able to really tune into you and be very comfortable and familiar with what not only what you need, but what you might need and what you might be going through. The process of healing is not only very unique, but what can happen after the session is really interesting. For me, there's like a 48 hour post processing that happens. Which brings me to the next part. It's so important that you not only feel safe in the office, but that when you go home you still feel safe. And it's important for people to be somewhat educated on what's going to happen. And sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. I know people can go in for all kinds of reasons, from addiction to the loss of a loved one, a breakup, post-partum depression, whatever is incredibly uncomfortable, or causing pain, or is coming up at an appropriate time, or we can't escape certain aspects of a memory is a sign of PTSD. When we're doing the therapy anything can happen and so that's actually very scary and unstable for the other people who are perhaps living with you.
I would say that if someone lives alone, that it's probably going to be a good thing to let your best friend know or someone else that you know cares for you and that you feel connected to so that they can check on you. Sometimes the effects of the unwinding can do things like make you want to stay in bed and actually be depressed from your session because we need to feel our feelings. So whatever could not be felt during the actual time the trauma happened and the situation occurred, these things get trapped in the body like a broken record. And so the idea is this therapy, you can go in and remove a charge of bad days that have accumulated. If there's young children at home, if maybe it's your responsibility to do more of the chores or take care of the pets, I think it's fair to say it's possible you might forget. It's possible a person could be too tired to do those things. And the most important thing about that therapy is feeling safe and being able to continue self care. EMDR work is so difficult and it's because it's so effective, it just cuts through the B.S. Going through this EMDR process actually kind of makes things worse in a way, because we have to have feelings again, the middle ground is being able to feel and process that whole spectrum of feelings. If for any reason during a process, even if it's been months of someone does not feel safe with their therapist, communicate that and or find a new one, don't push it.
That's the whole thing. We're alive and going through things. And sometimes we're just kind of pushed too far and it's too much. We need help to do this. And we don't we shouldn't have to do it alone. We don't need to. And it's helpful to use these tools to get through it, you know what I mean? So do not delay. Go for it and consider your options when it comes to insurance. Check to see what insurance will cover. Many people don't even understand how proven and how evidence based these therapies are. And this is this is Western medicine. This isn't something completely different. This is neuroscience. My I want to say that there are books and there are some articles. And if you can have access to different academic resources, I know that there's ways to get into medical research and just kind of follow through studies. Educate yourself as much as possible and see if you're ready for it. Some people are not ready for it. I would say the people who might not be ready for it might be the ones who are completely disconnected and living that kind of struggle where their life is becoming very somatic. For me, it worked. I've been doing really well. And when I have bad news or I'm somehow thinking of something that could trigger me, I'm no longer physically suffering from it. But I don't know all the whys about everything because I'm not a professional provider.
But I do know that I've heard people kind of complain and be upset because they want to go start EMDR and they realize that or they're being told by their therapist that they're not totally ready yet, that what they might need to do is somatic. I think it's called Somatic Experience Reprocessing. There's a different type of therapy where someone is trying to help you connect the flow that natural flow again from mind to body. And it's a much it's a different type of therapy. And I have not done that specific therapy, but I know it's drastically different. The EMDR is a little bit more hands off. You're letting someone have their bubble. You're helping them have it. It kind of reminds me of a shaman. I'm going to be real with you *laugh* like it's a little bit like that. You have to trust this person who is a bit wiser than you and it has done it before. And there's this exact process in this exact set up in a ceremony….
And tools. And you want to have someone you feel safe with because you're going to kind of go out of this world. The therapy is neat because I'm awake when I do it. That's the hardest part to explain to people. I'm awake. I have headphones on for part of it, for the Neurofeedback and it forces me into a REM state, but I'm awake. It's like meditating with headphones on and it's forced meditation.
So you do the the BAUD, like the the Neurofeedback. Is the is the sounds the neural feedback?
Yes. And it's bizarre. I mean, it's so bizarre. OK, I'll describe how that works. That's pretty interesting. It's like puppetry. It's a bit unnerving. I like it because I think, what else is possible with this? I just kind of getting that curious stage, wanting to innovate and figure out how we can improve everything. That's where I go. So a typical session. Like I said, you talk about a little bit about things or arrive with the charge. I went in there on a specific occasion depressed, and she said, “OK, I can work with that.” I was like, “Really lady?” I mean, I felt like a teenager. *laugh* And she comes with this dial and with one of the knobs she can actually dial in to my depression. So she says, “Tell me when it gets worse.” That's incredibly vague. But I thought, well, I'm depressed, how could this get any worse? And she turns this knob and we find… I'm sitting there. I'm kind of like, yeah, yeah, whatever. And you hear it, you do hear a noise and it starts to just kind of tune in and all of a sudden I just start sobbing. I can't stop crying. And not only can I not stop crying, I'm having new thoughts. I'm having thoughts about why everything sucks. Before I didn't even have those thoughts. I just felt depressed and I was pushing away connection, you know, isolating. And then she says, OK, while I'm crying my new. And I also my posture's changed. I’m slumped in the chair, I’m sobbing like I'm 12 years old, you know, it’s terrible, just like a moody teenage girl just crying her out. And she just says, you know, “Tell me when it feels better.” And the counter frequency, she dials that in. And I'm like, “Yeah, OK, I stopped crying I guess.” I'm just sitting there. I'm not crying anymore. OK, I kind of feel better. I said, “It almost feels like a hug.” And she said, “Let's see if we can do better.” Like I actually feel like I'm being hugged and she goes up higher.
All of a sudden I'm smiling, I'm smiling, this beaming, beautiful smile. And I feel like that kind of day where you're on vacation in the most beautiful place in nature and the sun is just beaming down on me and everything is right and all is well with the world. Wow! And that's within that's within forty five seconds I walk in depressed and moody. Now I'm sobbing. Now I feel like I'm being hugged. We can do better than that. Whoa. Is everybody having this kind of amazing day today or what? You feel the sunshine on you? Wow. It's amazing. So I left that session. My sessions are two hours right. So I walk in a completely different way. I leave totally fine and in the best mood. And then I told myself, like, can I really trust it? Because this now I just feel better than I thought. You know, maybe you should just quit judging it, overanalyzing everything, because that was crazy! Then after the feedback we do brain spotting, that stuff is so neat to me too. And again, I think it's interesting because I've heard of people meditating or monks meditating and staring at an altar, staring at like certain points on the wall and talking about that they know that that's an anger point. This is the point I always stare at this time of day and I just breathe and release. Think of it like that. And so I have somebody with a pointer stick holding it up and searching my field of vision to find what triggers me. That's pretty wild, too, because where we look affects us and our posture also affects how we feel. But we actually focus our attention on really changes how we feel. And we actually as humans, we're storing information all over the place in our field of vision.
It's just who would have thought? And I think about how I'm using essentially tools that are headphones with this little device that's just putting off little frequencies. And then I have a pointer stick and it really seems like we could live in a world in the future where you could go to a CVS. Or or maybe with our our school system, how they do all kinds of simple health checks. And then they'll just the nurse will write a little letter and let the parents know or whatever, let you know to go see someone, another professional outside of the school system. I think we should be searching people's field of vision to see, hey, if I wave this really slow and you follow the point and I see you start to have a somatic experience and there's more than five points, I'm going to put a little note here and recommend you find someone and then give it to your insurance and see if you can get some help.
Yeah, you could potentially stop a whole bunch of child abuse. Yeah.
Yeah. And sort of suffering and children who don't have any coping skills, and don't know a way out of those feelings or adolescence or whoever. I mean, at CVS, I imagine adults going in and getting checked out. And just the experience of it is kind of mind boggling. I've heard of a lot of people who explain that three to five sessions typically gets a person out of the fight or flight and out of the survival mode. It's like I can't I can't even describe the amount of relaxation that I felt in my body. I had a session where we were working on whatever, and I just close my eyes and I said, “Can I just tell you” to my therapist. “Can I just tell you? I feel actually kind of scared just because I'm relaxing.” That's yeah. *laugh*
Yes. I know exactly what you mean when you've been stuck in that mode in a hyper vigilance for I mean, some people years, relaxing is it can be kind of terrifying and it's where you're supposed to be, but it feels completely alien to you.
Alien is such a better word I was going to say wrong, but that's the true. It feels so foreign.
Yeah. There's like a rawness to it. It grates on your nerves somehow where it's just like this is this is dangerous. This is vulnerable. This is terrifying. And it feels good. But awful at the same time, and it's so difficult to to really, like, accept that this is OK, you can stay here and you can be like this and this is how other people live. *laughs*
Is it, though? I don't even know. It's so amazing to be that relaxed and it just it almost seems like it's not a real thing.
Yeah, it's it's hard to imagine, especially if you if you have any kind of developmental trauma that you've been carrying with you, like if you have CPTSD and you've just been carrying trauma through your whole life and you've been, you know, dragging that hypervigilance through decades. Yeah. Letting go of it is, even for a few minutes is really daunting. And and it takes and it takes work and it takes everybody different kinds of work. And I love the way that you've been talking about this and especially like the headphones in the stick and breaking it down into like those things as objects, as tools, and what’s obviously like a sophisticated system that, you know, there's science and research behind it. But just in terms of how it actually works, that it's a stick that you wave in front of someone's face. It's like a a science trauma magic wand.
Absolutely Yes. It does feel like it's like sorcery. Like, NO! Wait. Stop judging everything. Stop reading everything. Trust the process. It worked before the last 40 sessions. You know, it's going to keep working, feel the relaxation, believe in it. I question it too, because I'm like, this is so simple. What do you mean? Why? Why do… I think sometimes I laugh because I have stared at a stick for 30 minutes and I’m like, I don't get it. I've actually just told her, “Look, I don't, I'm not going to take my eyes off it. I know you're here. You're listening to me. I don't think this is working.” And she’s like, “It's working. Don't tell yourself it's not working, it’s working, OK?” You stare at it and then it we're done. I'm like, “Oh, goodness, I'm just stared at a stick for 30 minutes.” She’s, “You did a really good job actually, you did a really good job.” And then I, I'm thinking, OK, well I don't know what we just did today. And then I went home and oh my gosh, I felt it just felt a completely different experience going home. I thought, OK, we did something because I can't sleep at night anymore. Those are the bizarre things that can happen. I couldn't I was so afraid to sleep at night for I think six months. Yeah, I had to talk myself into it and set things up. And so I actually started to go to sleep with ocean waves on and at night I actually left ocean waves on twenty four hours a day. I think at night it was evening ocean waves just rolling in, new tide going in. And then I did a I did the ocean waves during the day, which is fun because it goes on for a long time.
There's no background music and you can kind of travel the world like that looking at beautiful places. But that's how I was really getting to sleep than and I was. I was prescribed a really nice version of some kind of herbal melatonin that came with. Yeah, it came with like what's it called? Like a Valerian root. Anyway, there was help provided that you don't really know what you're going to set off. Like I mentioned earlier, for the most part, every session I've known what's going on. So when I was staring at the stick, I've had other things happen. I have, like I said, have PTSD. Actually been hearing a lot about the fact that I most likely have been recovering from a CPTSD because of surgeries that I've had in the past that involve too much anesthesia and then repeated abandonments and feeling trapped in a relationship or trapped in an area. Or just basically if you feel trapped, it's going to take you somewhere dark. It's not a good feeling. From what I heard. I've heard CPTSD is actually way more common in children. For children who were emotionally neglected, it's almost always about emotional neglect. And then later on in life, if something serious happens, it's much easier for that person to just all of a sudden have like onset CPTSD or some kind of PTSD or high anxiety disorder, because it's like it's like a fertile mind for it. Which is what which is why it's so important to not, I believe, to not emotionally neglect ourselves. That's that self care thing.
Well, and it's it's difficult, though, because if there's emotional neglect or any kind of child abuse, I mean, you you don't know how you're supposed to be treated.
You don't have a real sense of of that or what you deserve generally. Your understanding and your expectations are wildly different, are off base, in terms of of what you truly deserve…
You know, what it is to be treated like a like a human being sometimes. That's difficult.
That takes that takes work. And that's a that's a lot of the work that I've been doing the past several years was was realizing that I didn't know what respect was. I didn't know what it was like. I certainly knew how to treat others with respect, but didn't understand that I deserved respect or what it was to be treated with respect. So I could give but didn't understand that I wasn't, you know, that I wasn't deserving of abuse because that was what I had received so, so persistently, so early on. And that's that's incredibly common. And it doesn't, when I say abuse and in this term, like, it can be as simple as emotional neglect, as you say, as a form of abuse or verbal or emotional abuse. Those things are abuse and they do damage you, especially in formative years. As as children we’re extremely damaged by those things. They change the rest of your life. They shape who you are. And dismantling those things with kindness and and love and compassion towards yourself is very hard work. And that's what I think so many people who are doing trauma work in their in their own lives. I think that's a big part of of the work a lot of the time.
Wow. It's hard for me to really process what you just said. I think it's wonderful that you put that kind of work in yourself. I just want to let you know that I understand and I'm really happy that you're finding new ways to expand that not only that knowledge, but actually be open to experiencing a different world. I say that because sometimes when we live a certain way for so long, it's actually much scarier to, the process to get better or it's much scarier of an idea to take in a different life, a different way of being, no matter how bad you want it. Sometimes, it's actually terrifying. So, you are brave.
*Break music* 49:11
DeSha 49:20 I think about what I've learned about PTSD through Chinese medicine, that involuntary movement is referred to as “wind”
within Chinese medicine?
Yeah, within Chinese medicine, it's called wind. And just saying that this is this kind of brings forth the terms to look up in Chinese medicine. If one is interested on just getting connected to a different type of map when it comes to health. I love maps For me, when I learn about anything, I just imagine it's most likely a map where we learn about different types of medicine. It's like, well, this is how my culture or our people or whatever these times have mapped out and this is how we understand things to be.
We can create a map out of anything. And I've noticed that and and I've realized how much I love it. And yeah, so learning the terms like wind and also understanding a different type of explanation of the function and meaning behind things like the pericardium and the gallbladder and the liver. I mean, the liver stores our blood.
The gallbladder is a record keeper of the times and the bladder meridian is often associated with PTSD. How I became so much more interested in this is that I used to actually always being chronic pain growing up and I had a lot of allergies. I couldn't understand why I couldn't eat normal things other kids could eat and why I would get so sick. That's kind of how this all really started for me. It's been a really long journey. Part of it all was really understanding that generally when there's an ache or pain and you haven't fallen down, it's possible that that point correlates to a Meridien and electrical circuit in the body, essentially. And there's a flow of energy. And if people need to think about it like blood, we need blood flowing through our body and being able to nourish all the organs. Right? So I was following recurrent aches and pains and I just thought, wow, when I get stressed out, the right side of the outer side of my leg hurts. And now I feel like I have sciatica. So apparently that's part of the gallbladder channel. And I thought, well, that's interesting. And I want to read more. And then there's this for me. I think it's beautiful. It's beautiful, poetic story about how the gallbladder works and why. I think it's fascinating. But when I talk to my acupuncturist, because that's definitely a person that I'm so appreciative, grateful for! Oh, thank you so much!
She's able to help integrate my trauma therapy sessions afterwards and she'll actually ask me, “Hey, what did you work on?” And sometimes I said, “Oh, Shame, I worked on Shame.” And then she says, “Oh, OK.” And I tell her where the aches and pains are. And she's like, “Oh, that's, that Meridien, Actually, that makes sense. That's the organ system there. That's that deals with shame or. Oh, that's hurting you on the outside of your leg. That deals with pent up anger.” I was like, “Oh this is fascinating! Tell me more!” And it's almost like this epic storytelling experience that can kind of add a little bit more meaning to my situation, you know what I mean? Like, I almost feel like I'm not the only one. You know, there's information about this, which is, again, what's so exciting about neuroscience because so much information is coming out. So a lot of people who have not actually been exposed to that kind of storytelling of how the body works and they're only into Western medicine. A lot of what's going on here in this country is just amazing for PTSD and trauma survivors. But you can use the materials like I could do acupuncture and the back pain doesn't for me doesn't hurt anymore. And down my leg, I felt better. All that pulsing and aching. Gone! I also noticed that with the Neurofeedback and the Brainspotting, this EMDR stuff, going in and saying, “I have this persistent chronic back pain, I can't seem to get rid of it.” And we start to think about well, what happened? And I immediately I can go to it now. But that took a little that was a Neuro exercise I think. My friend, I *laugh* actually had a friend apologize to me a month or two ago. And when they apologized afterwards, I was so shocked by it because it was completely unprovoked and I had never said anything. And it was a childhood friend, their only way to include me. And they said they loved hanging out with me. They loved having me around. But the only way to really include me was to bully me. I don't get it. They'd invite me to their house privately for things. Even when there were no other people around to show off to.
She would bully me and it was, it sucked! And I was like, God, you're my best friend, huh? Wow. Oh, wow. And so she calls me and I hadn’t even talked to her for five years and she says, “I was just thinking I can't sleep. And I you know, I was thinking about we were kids and I'm so sorry. And I don't know why.” I was like, “Yo, go try some EMDR. Figure out why. Figure that out.” But but afterwards, still, the next day I couldn't walk.
So I went from being completely healthy and functioning. Nothing extra happened the next day I could not walk right.
And since that's happened, it has been pretty much repaired because I've had to go in and use these tools and reinforce that there's a middle ground. I don't just have to have a thought and then have physical pain. The middle ground is this range of feelings that I at some point thought I wasn't safe enough to feel.
Yeah, and now I'm safe enough to feel them and like her bullying and everything else was so bad. It was like I was walking with my tail between my legs. That expression. Yeah, I mean, it's a different kind of life, I'll tell you the whole somatic processing stuff. But it's it's getting better and there is hope on that. And I'm just I'm really excited, honestly. I mean, the more that I've been able to process what it's capable of. If giving people a safe place, I think we know inherently that that's among the most important things. It's a basic human need to have safe shelter and to have a safe place and to be able to remove ourselves when we're around situations that trigger us. I think that's all very normal and we're all very deserving of that. It's a completely new level, though, and it's so profound when a person or when I could sit and finally believe I was safe again.
And when that happened, that's when the healing accelerated. We need safe places and safe spaces. Not any one person has the answer. It's OK to want to reach out. And even for people who are unable to meet in person with a professional, there are people willing to meet with you on the phone. And there there's video conferencing with professionals in your state or in your area. It can be done. We don't have to do this alone.
There are so many more resources available virtually right now than than ever before. There are people that can help. And we were we were having a conversation about trauma therapy, about how a lot of people don't actually know that there are trauma therapists, not just therapists, but therapists that specialize in trauma and treating trauma.
*Break music* 57:12
I'd like to just acknowledge, if you're comfortable doing that, what a rough place you were in, because you sound amazing right now because you've been through so much and you've done so much healing work, you're kind of coming out the other side and in some ways with it. And I just want to acknowledge, like what a rough place you were in when you started doing EMDR and when you sought that out and why you sought that out, you sound like a completely different person.
Isn't that amazing too? What an amazing thing that we could overcome such chaotic and unimaginable, tragic, or suffering, events that involve so much suffering. So, yes, we can overcome and we can get through the other side. And it did happen for me and with great effort. Still. It's possible.
Thank you for acknowledging that. That was really sweet. Kind of warmed my heart a little bit. Thank you.
Thank you so much for listening. Please keep an eye out for parts too, and possibly even three of my talk with DeSha new episodes every Wednesday now. In these upcoming episodes, DeSha shares more about her personal journey and what led her to EMDR. Last year, she exited an abusive relationship and went no contact. She speaks candidly about the relationship and with great compassion. I hope you'll join us. Please write in with feedback, listener questions or episode requests to email@example.com. Let me know if you're interested in joining me on the show. I'd love to have you. Finding OK is entirely crowd funded and you are the ones helping me make this happen. Thank you. A link to the Go Fund Me can be found on the podcast website and I posted links routinely on my Facebook page. I also post relevant articles, art, memes, and resources daily. Feel free to friend me, Hecate F. Okay. *spells name* You can also find me on Instagram. I have created a private Finding OK Facebook group for survivors. You are welcome there and I hope you'll join us. If you would like a shout out, please take a minute to rate and review the podcast on whatever platform you use to help the podcast reach more listeners. Thank you so much for your continued support. Please share, subscribe and donate if you can. Thank you again for listening. This has been Finding OK. Black Lives Matter. Take care of yourself.
*Outro music by Ramshackle Glory* 59:58
*fade in to folk/punk chords of guitar* Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. And hold on, and hold on, hold on for your life *echoes into brief silence*…(Chorus and full band) Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. And hold on, and hold on, hold on for your life. *triumphant and uplifting music plays till end*
It does get better! I’m better! So, hurray! I'm Finding OK! *laugh*