The best drug I’ve ever taken wasn’t even a drug. It was EMDR therapy.

Adam Cayton-Holland, who lost his younger sister to suicide and suffered recurring nightmares and flashbacks about finding her body, discusses how therapy did not help him, but Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (better known as EMDR) did.

Here, in an excerpt from his book, Tragedy Plus Time: A Tragi-Comic Memoir, reprinted in Esquire magazine, he details how EMDR helped him, what it was like for him before trying EMDR, and how he’s doing after.

“None of the shrinks I went to after my little sister’s suicide were any help. It’s not their fault, I suppose. They were trying their best. But with each of them I would pick up on this overwhelming sense of pity. Which I resented. They flinched and sighed dramatically with every detail of my story.

After trying EMDR, Cayton-Holland writes, “What was amazing about each session was how new details would emerge. … I began to crave going in for EMDR. As hard as it was, as much as I cried and hated revisiting the most painful experience of my life on a routine basis, it was working.

We did seven or eight sessions, I can’t really remember, but at some point I had just had enough. I didn’t want to go over Lydia’s death anymore. The memory felt sufficiently processed. And it was no longer coming up inappropriately. The nightmares and flashbacks dried up. There would be glimmers of them, a hint of the memory, a frame from that horrible scene in the movie playing in my dream, but it was far better than it had been. The memory was filing itself away. I felt like I was controlling it. Which was freeing. To not be plagued by it. It was there, and I brought it back out of the filing cabinet often, but I got to choose when I did.”

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