I’ve seen a therapist off and on for the past 5 years, but only started going to (semi) weekly sessions since this past September when my depression started to scare me (and my family). Since then, I go to around 3-5 sessions per month and routinely text my therapist when I’m having a periodic episode, which seems like enough mental help for me to have my shit together, right? That would be wrong. I wanted to share how, despite how much I love my counselor and feeling like I’m getting better after our appointments, therapy makes me feel worse for a period of time, and that’s not something to panic about. It might sound counterproductive or even harmful to acknowledge that therapy makes me depressed depending on our topics of conversation or how deeply we dive into my trauma, but the temporary negativity is in fact a normal reaction to psychological evaluation.
In my weekly sessions, my therapist uses a technique called EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is specifically recommended for people with PTSD, traumatic memories, phobias, anxiety, or depression. The technique consists of eight phases: client history and treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installment, body scan, closure, and reevaluation (all of which is explained in the Medical News Today article linked). She uses this technique on me when we discuss my trauma and she wants me to dive deeper into specific memories I might have ignored or don’t openly share. EMDR opens my mind to many painful moments and almost feels like I’m word-vomiting random scattered memories that don’t have any connection. However, after we’re pau with each session, my therapist and I talk about what I shared and how they’re actually all related to each other, even by minuscule threads. And while EMDR has been immensely helpful after months of sessions, therapy makes me depressed for days on end due to the deep rehashing of traumatic times and reminder of moments I may have wanted to ignore forever.
Every week, I’m learning how to live with and work through my emotional and mental issues, but it’s going to take a lot of time. I’m trying to be kinder to myself during the occasions where I feel especially depressed and resigned after a draining session. I’m hoping that one day, after enough work, I’ll be better.