Hangin’ with Harry! The Brain-Changing Beauty of EMDR

I never thought that one day I would say that Prince Harry and I have something in common!! Well, we do. We both experienced EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

EMDR therapy “is a phased, focused approach to treating traumatic and other symptoms by reconnecting the client in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution. ”

You might have seen Harry’s interview with Oprah, or heard about their collaborative project, “The Me You Can’t See”. It was there that I learned about Harry’s experience with EMDR.

I didn’t get the call from Oprah, but here is a bit of my story….

In March of last year, my husband and I heard the word ‘pandemic’ as we sunned in Huatulco, Mexico. The days following were tense, and we heard more and more about what was happening around the world. We quickly knew we had to get back home.

During our isolation at our cottage, a colleague called me to tell me that her son had died by suicide just a week before. It literally knocked me off my feet. I could not compose myself well enough to offer condolences properly; I was overcome with emotion. She said she wanted me to know before it hit the newspaper. Her son, a beautiful 24 year old, had done some work on our deck with his dad in the summer of 2018. I remember chatting with him and then telling her what a nice, respectful man he was. And, that he had a great smile! My colleague knew my history and thought it might upset me to be surprised at seeing his obituary, which was going to be in the paper the next day.

Shortly after that,  while my husband (VP of HR for a high-tech company) was consumed with managing the pandemic in two countries, I started feeling ‘off’.  He was responsible for getting reliable information out to staff, at a time when none of us knew much at all. I felt for him and did my best to give him the space he needed to do his job. I, essentially, isolated more.

Of course, everyone I knew was feeling ‘off’, so I did not think much of it. I was sure the feeling wouldn’t last, just as I thought about the pandemic. I continued to work out every day first thing in the morning. After the workout I felt good. As the day moved on, I felt less and less good.

Then I started being unable to sleep. I decided to stop drinking coffee, stop drinking wine (even though there were all those early humorous videos showing people guzzling wine in their sweat pants), and avoiding all stimulants. I worked out regularly, meditated (although badly; I seemed unable to be ‘still’), stayed off of electronics 2 hours before bed, got lots of fresh air…and still, sleep evaded me.

After that, I started to notice that my clothes were falling off me. I was losing weight rapidly. And I just generally felt like a piece of garbage.

On top of it all, my hair started falling out. It freaked me out! Not only because MY HAIR WAS FALLING OUT, but because my hair is part of my brand, and it no longer looked or felt like ‘me’. Eventually, after months, I got in to see my dermatologist. She diagnosed it as telogen effluvium,  a common cause of temporary hair loss due to the excessive shedding of resting or telogen hair after some shock to the system – in my case, a trauma that was triggered.

Losing sleep, losing weight, losing hair…it was like I was disappearing all-together.

My doctor thought I was experiencing symptoms of anxiety, and prioritized getting something to help me sleep. The medication brought it’s own problems. First, symptoms became WORSE!  Second, the many side effects were quite awful.

Once I was sleeping and could function a little, I sought out a therapist. I wanted to try to figure out what happened and why I felt so bad.

I tried talk therapy at first. I attended faithfully, fully motivated to get well. After several weeks, I knew it was not working. My therapist suspected there was a connection to unresolved grief, and she recommended I try EMDR at Peace of Mind Therapy and Consultation with Dr. Kelly Penner Hutton.

I reserched it a little before calling for an appointment. I wasn’t sure how moving my eyes back and forth might help, but hey, I would try just about anything not to feel so horrible.

We spent weeks processing the suicide of my former husband of 8 months, when I was 27. I thought I had done the work around that long ago, but we discovered that there was still much distress connected to that memory

When I saw the clip from Oprah’s chat with Prince Harry, in which he revealed that he had experienced EMDR, I told my friend – “hey, I can totally hang with Harry now!!” I have always found him to be a most interesting person, and I love his work in Mental Health, including his recent appointment as Chief Impact Officer at Better Up, Inc.

Simultaneously, I heard Harry on the Armchair Expert podcast. He said many things that were helpful to me, like ‘We all have trauma. Life is trauma.’ And, he also coined a term I will use in the future; PTSI (Post Traumatic Stress Injury). The common term is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Harry talked about how changing the term will change people’s perspective, and might help more people to get help sooner.  In explaining it, he said “you have experienced an injury, you are not disordered.”

I like that, and I agree. I have experienced an injury, and I am not disordered. Thanks, Harry. Let’s hang!

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!

 

Choose Life; You Got This!

Two videos comprise this post. I am resharing my TEDx talk from 2013. During Mental Health Month, it is a message that is still timely today.

I am also sharing a poignant message from Keynote Speaker and Facilitator Jennifer Spear of Work Unscripted, reminding you that ‘You Got This’!

Enjoy!

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!

Answer These Two Questions to Get More, Live More, Be More

The two most important questions in life are:

Who Are You and What Do You Want?

Both are positive questions and both move you TOWARD creating the life you desire.

“Who Are You?” helps you to instantly focus on your highest values, on those things that are most important to you, on your legacy even. “What Do You Want?” helps you to focus on the things that you want to attract, to manifest, in your life.

Here is a quick process that you can follow to begin to answer these questions:

1) Write your eulogy. Yes, you read that correctly. Take a few minutes and write out what you’d like the important people in your life to say about you when you leave this world. How did you impact them? What do they remember most about you? What key words would you like them to use as they describe you? If that is too morbid, think about what you’d like people to say about you at your retirement party. Or, think about what you’d like people to be saying about you right now. What would you like them to be saying about you when you are not there? You might want them to describe you as caring, positive, thoughtful, warm, courageous, adventurous, smart, creative, playful, inspiring; you might want them to describe you as a leader, a teacher, a role model.

2) Create a vision board. Think about and note what you would like to attract into your life. It might be more patience with your children, more presence at work, more focus in meetings, more calm in interpersonal exchanges, better health and a greater state of fitness, more energy, more happiness overall. Cut out pictures and/or words that reflect what you’d like to attract into your life. Arrange them on a poster board or sheet of paper. (You can read another excellent resource about online vision boards from Design Wizard here“.)

3) Move. Decide what you will DO, in order for people to describe you in the ways in which you want to be described (1 above), and in order for you to be able to attract the kinds of things you want to attract into your life (2 above). You might decide that you will begin thinking differently about yourself and the impact you have on others (you might clean up some limiting beliefs you have about yourself, and embed some new positive beliefs); you might decide that you will meditate each day to calm yourself and focus on what is important to you; you might decide that you will start a gratitude journal and record three things each day for which you are grateful (this is the #1 happiness strategy, by the way); you might decide to smile more, to engage in conversations with others more, to take the lead to reach out to people in your life with whom you have experienced conflict.

4) Focus. Keep your words from 1) and your vision board from 2) nearby. Look at them each day. Ask yourself questions like “After that conversation that I just had with my mother, would she describe me in the way that I want to be described?” “As I head out the door today, what one thing can I do to be more patient with my staff?” “Before I walk into my home at the end of the work day, what can I think that will help me have more connection with my family?”

Life is complex and busy. These simple questions help you to keep anchored in creating your best life every day.

So, Who Are You and What Do You Want?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!