EMDR and Anger

In our therapy session last night we continued with the EMDR.   This time we did it with anger.  All week I  tried to come with something that makes me angry that is on the lower end of the scale.  I couldn’t think of anything.  When I thought about anger I could only come up with really intense stuff.

Since I didn’t have anything in mind my T suggested road rage.  Perfect, why didn’t I think of that myself

This will be a loose telling of what happened since so much went on I probably don’t remember it all.  First we went through a series of questions.

She asked me to think of my road rage and where I would feel it in my body. Ah…nowhere.  After giving it much thought  and some guidance from her, I feel it in my legs plus I grind my teeth.

She then gave me a list of statements that were in two columns.   One was negative and the other positive.  I had to give one negative statement about how I felt when in the road rage.  I came up with “I have no control”.  I also had to choose a positive statement to eventually replace the negative one.  Picking the positive one was much harder. Finally I decided on “I did the best I could”.

After a few other questions that included a few 1 to 10 scales that she knows I hate.  I have a hard time rating myself in this way.

Then came the pulsar part and the interesting part.   First for two minutes while I held the pulsars she asked me to sit with how I feel when road rage is happening and to just let my thoughts go wherever.  This is where it gets interesting.  I started smelling cigarette smoke.  Now sometimes I have a real problem with smelling cigarette smoke.  It can get so bad that it chokes me; I even have a hard time speaking because it catches my breath and I feel like I can’t take a deep breath. It can continue for only a few hours to a few months.  It is a frustrating experience for me.

After the two minutes she asked me what came up for me.  I told her about the cigarette smoke.  As she turned on the pulsars once again she asked me to sit with the cigarette smoke and let my thoughts happen.

It continued like this for a while, sitting with what came up for me with the pulsars on for about two minutes each time.

But as I was thinking about the smoke a memory emerged.  I was sitting in the back seat of our car with my siblings with my parents sitting in the front seat.  Both my parents always smoked in the car and at the same time.  I couldn’t breath.

As the EMDR progressed more details of the memory emerged.  I would ask if I could open the window.  If I was lucky they would let me open it just enough to stick my little nose out.  But usually I wasn’t that lucky.  I always felt like I was suffocating.

Going further into the memory I could see myself pleading with them to let me open a window and I was very angry.  What I find interesting about this is that I actually don’t ever remember being angry.  That could never be for many reasons.

After all this I had to do the pulsars with the statements I chose ending with the positive,  about two minutes each as well.

I made a few unexpected connections here.  I had no control as a child.    I have no control when I need to get somewhere and I am behind someone who is driving painfully slow or painfully bad.  I really hate being late.

I did the best I could.  I tried to get some fresh air even if I wasn’t allowed it.

So now when I am driving and feel the rage coming on, my T wants me to remember the positive statement.

As for the anger in my memory, I wonder if somewhere deep down as a child, I was actually angry or if I started to feel some anger about what happened to me in that car.  Maybe a bit of both.

This session felt like a lot of work and I was exhausted.  But my T also made it clear that I could stop at any time if I felt it was too overwhelming or just plain didn’t want to go on..

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8 Responses to EMDR and Anger

  1. Freely Floating says:

    I can see how that would have been an exhausting experience. Is your T having you do EMDR every week, or are you doing it a little more sporadically?

    Thinking of you –

    • lostinamaze says:

      Right now we are doing it for 3 sessions in a row. It was very tiring but interesting experience. I hope it is worth it.

  2. Harriet says:

    Wow, that sounds amazing. And very difficult as well. Good work! How are you feeling today?

    • lostinamaze says:

      I haven’t been sleeping the last few nights and last night when I did sleep I was having nightmares. But I don’t know if it is connected to the EMDR or not. Because I often have nightmares.

  3. Just Be Real says:

    How so very interesting and to pick a topic as road rage to stir up memories. That would fit me perfectly as that is where my rage comes out the most, and being alone in my home yelling at the walls and inademant objects. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • lostinamaze says:

      Yes it was interesting. I would have never connected the road rage to that particular memory. I really wasn’t expecting any memories to come up. Actually I don’t know what I was expecting.

  4. This session sounds nearly identical to the process described in the book I’m reading. So you are going to do it for three sessions and then decide whether to do it longer? How long are the sessions – the usual 45 minutes? In the book they seem to recommend longer sessions than typical – frequently closer to 90 minutes to ensure grounding at the end.

    Interesting about smoke – I have a similar response. I also have “phantom” cigarette smells – usually at night while going to bed. Even though no one smokes in my house – I still feel like choking.

    Take care,

    • lostinamaze says:

      It’s my understanding that we will only be doing for the three sessions. Come to think of it I’m not sure why. I will ask about it.

      The EMDR sessions are probably around the 90 minute mark. We do the grounding at the end. She also makes sure I’m doing all right throughout the session.

      This actually isn’t extra time for me as my sessions are 2 hours long normally. Apparently my T normally does one and a half long sessions anyway.

      That sucks that you have the smelling cigarette smoke problem too. I often smell it at night as well. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep because of it. I wonder how common this is?

      I asked my T about her training in EMDR. She told me that it was 40 or 50 hours worth of training done over two weekends as well as so many hours of being supervised while working with clients.

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