Battling PTSD witih EMDR and Scent Therapy

Here I am again in Dr. White, my Therapist’s home office. It’s a cozy spot full of eclectic pieces from his travels around the world. The carpet has a beautiful Indian print; the house must be at least 100 year old with lovely sweeping balconies which I can see from where I sit. It’s so peaceful out here in the country, watching the old trees sway in the wind life feels slower and I begin to relax.

I can feel Sandy’s breathing on the tops of my feet; Sandy is the family’s Golden Retriever and my favourite distraction during my visits. I think I could really like this place if it weren’t for the work we have to do here with my PTSD.

Just the thought has caused my heart rate to increase, as Dr. White sits across from me I realize that the muscles throughout my body have tightened. He hands me the vial of Lilac and pulls a low stool directly in front of me upon which he sits. As he begins to speak softly about day of the car accident he moves his fingers rhythmic motion at eye level. I raise the vial to my nose and gently inhale the scent seeking my safe place.

The scent takes me away from the good Doctor, back to a time of peace a time when life was safe, it was simple and predictable. With each breath my childhood bedroom became clearer to me; I can easily feel the fresh sheets cool on my skin. I can see the sunlight bouncing off of the cover of my ceiling light onto my Holly Hobbie print on the wall. The sound of my Mum doing dishes in the kitchen soothes me. My body was relaxed in this moment, in the scent of the Lilac tree drifting in on the breeze through my bedroom window.

In the back of my mind I feel a shift in the air; immediately I raise the vial to closer to my nose, waving it back and forth quickly. The image and feeling of my safe place was becoming less clear….I hear Dr. White’s words in a scattered manner as I tried to hold on to my childhood sheets, I tried to pull them up over my head. He’s saying highway.. SUV out of control..stopped in front of you..you’re safe. No I am NOT! The happy place in my mind is slipping away as my mind fights to avoid the Doctor’s words.

I can’t clutch those sheets tightly enough, they are ripped away and I am here in this cold room while Dr. White uses these words which open the door for the sense of Doom.

The black vortex of the Doom is behind me, I’m rigid with the knowledge, and the expectation as my breath comes quickly….too quickly. Sounds are too loud, the light is too bright. My hands are numb and I drop the vial, the world is coming too quickly!

I close my eyes and breathe. And I pray….the pain in my neck increases and I can feel the familiar stabbing sensation in my temples. Sandy isn’t there anymore, there’s no distraction and I feel alone, utterly alone and vulnerable. I can’t handle all of this fear and pain rushing at me at once.

I NEED to go home. NOW!

So I quickly tell Dr. White how I feel, he wants me to try some relaxation techniques but I can’t do it. I need to escape back into my home where I can close out the world. That is exactly what I do.

As I close the front door to my house behind me I lean against the wall sweating and breathing like I did after my first 5K race. I attempt to slow my breathing by consciously taking shallow breaths in and exhaling while counting to 5. Making my way through the house I’m kicking off my shoes and removing my clothes frantically, trying to be free of the restriction. I feel the Doom coming closer…..it’s almost upon me.

Just feet from the toilet I begin retching, clutching the bowl I am absorbed by the process of vomiting until I am empty and spent. I lay my head on the Bathroom floor; eyes closed feeling the coolness upon my cheek as I realize that the Doom has passed. The door it came through is again closed tight. I am again numb. I smell my Lilac room scented plug-in and sleep overcomes me.

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