Paul Steen suffered from anxiety and depression after the death of his wife
He saw a therapist who included Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) in her practice
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When my wife died, it brought back problems that I had struggled with in the past. So it wasn’t just terrible, crippling grief I was experiencing; in my mind I was conflating very different things, and then I started having panic attacks. I knew I needed help or I would have a breakdown.
I found a bereavement specialist, and – along with traditional psychotherapy – she practised a particular kind of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). She would take a pen or stick or even use her finger and then – as I thought about the most traumatic part of my wife’s death – she would move it from one side to another, while I stared at it. I was very sceptical, but it was effective. It did take the edge off my panic.
Eventually we entered a long period of talking therapy in which we tried to sort out the grief from my historic anxieties, so that I could understand why I felt so guilty and angry. I felt trapped in a cyclical thought process, and - on my own - I couldn’t get out of it.
My therapy lasted 18 months. Not every week after the first year, but still pretty regularly. I pushed it hard; I wanted to understand what was happening, so I took notes. A lot of it was traumatic; some sessions were appalling. But she was a very experienced therapist, and I always knew we were working towards a good outcome.
As far as I can see, it makes absolute sense to seek this kind of help when you need it. It’s caveman talk to see it as a sign of weakness. You need help; you should get it. Yes, it’s costs a lot – £80 a time for this therapist – but it was worth every penny.