Are you suffering from anxiety? experiencing panic attacks? laying awake at night unable to sleep? or paralyzed by your anxious thoughts that keep you trapped and prevent you from living the life you dream about?
You are not alone. Let me just say that again. You are not alone. Anxiety can feel lonely, often our loved ones and friends don’t get it. The truth is many people suffer from anxiety, but people don’t want to talk about it. Historically, society has struggled to create safety around mental and emotional struggles. Despite it being the 21st century, how mental illness is viewed is still very lacking in understanding. If a counsellor can’t help you with the anxiety you are experiencing, if they don’t have the capacity to support the change you are looking for, then they send you to see a doctor or psychiatrist who will most likely tell you this is just a part of who you are. You are an anxious person, maybe you were born that way or there might be something wrong with your brain and how it functions. They will slap a label on your file and medicate you. The dark truth is that neither of those solutions truly fixes the problem. It’s a bandaid that is too small to cover the deeper wounds that exist.
I don’t believe that Anxiety is a part of who you are or a disease that you have to manage with medication for the rest of your life. What you are not likely to hear a traditional doctor say is that anxiety is a normal part of how our brains function. “Fight or Flight” is the normal fire alarm of our central bodies operating system. It’s a fire alarm that protects us when we are in danger. However, just like normal fire alarms sometimes send off a false alarm, your brain if it is under frequent stress can build a habit of sending of “mis-signals”. What does this mean for your brain over time? Well our brain is constantly classifying information, plasticity is the brains ability to grow and change over time in response to the environment it experiences. The brain looks for patterns and then conditions itself to remember these patterns so that you can do something faster and faster. This is your brains amazing ability to adapt in order to survive in a world that can sometimes be a dangerous place. The brain can change with new information and new learning. Like when you first move to a new city and you need a map to get everywhere. Eventually with time the plasticity of your brain creates new neural pathways that become fixed and this is why you learn certain routes and things become familiar, because your brain remembers!
Anxiety has an effect on your brain. At some point in your life your brain signalled to you that you were in danger. Whether real or perceived. Some children have an adult in their lives that knows how to manage stress well and are equipped to help a child get through the situation and process their emotions and experiences in a healthy way. However, coping with stress or anxiety is not something that is frequently taught to the average individual. Some individuals naturally learn it and others don’t.
What’s important to know is that if you didn’t learn the first time around how to work through that difficult situation and question whether the danger was real or perceived, then likely you won’t know how to get through it the next time and the next time it happens. The brain forms a neural pathway that teaches your “fire alarm” to become very sensitive and the anxiety seems to increase with time. So how do you turn off the “fire alarm” when it seems to be so broken? When it goes off while you are at work? or driving home? or in the middle of the night? or when you are perfectly safe?
The answer lies in the brain. Neural pruning is the ability for the brain to forget old pathways and old habits when they become less used or when new pathways are built. So the answer is two fold: We need to support your brains ability to forget this pathway of anxiety, and we need to help it learn a new pathway through teaching and growing your capacity to handle challenges and stress.
EMDR is a proven therapy that can help you heal the past that has created this pathway. I have been successfully using it with many clients who are experiencing high levels of anxiety on a daily basis and I have seen huge changes.
EMDR is form of therapy that taps into the human systems natural capacity to heal and recover. Through the use of bilateral stimulation (eye movements or tapping) the brain is able to access it’s natural ability to heal and to reprocess the traumatic event into information that is adaptive and healing. It is similar to the way the body uses the REM cycle or dream state to process difficult and challenging events that occur during the day. The eye movements stimulate the brains neural processes, allowing it to recode the information in ways that are more helpful and healthy.
EMDR can be used with toddlers to seniors to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, recurring nightmares, night terrors, trauma, low-self worth, depression, phobias, sexual or physical assaults, death of a loved one, car accidents, or other disturbing events and life crisis that are keeping you stuck. Exciting right?
Want more information? Book a session today and start changing your brain! Also, I recommend that you read “The EMDR Revolution: Change Your Life One Memory at a Time, The Client’s Guide” if you are considering EMDR Therapy.