COVID Was A Nurse’s Nightmare
Disclaimer: This story is about a nurse’s journey and her hardships during the pandemic. If the story is triggering, stop reading or choose not to read it and reach out to do some trauma work.
Savannah* had been a nurse during the pandemic. When it began, she volunteered to go to New York to help manage the overwhelming healthcare crisis. What she found there was an absolute nightmare.
Patients lined the halls struggling to breathe. Doctors rushed around to get to the patients, but many died before treatment. There were not enough respirators for all the patients, and doctors had to choose who would live and who would die.
On many occasions, Savannah had to hold a phone up for patients so they could say goodbye to their families before dying. Patients were scared and had no one to comfort them. Savannah held many hands of those who succumbed to the disease and died alone in a sterile hospital room.
There was no PPE, and Savannah had to reuse what she received. Every day she was scared that she could catch COVID and die like so many that had passed through.
Savannah Developed PTSD
As a result, Savannah had to stop working as a nurse. Nightmares plagued her, making it difficult to sleep. She always felt jumpy, and memories of certain patients who had died would flash through her mind. She avoided hospitals as much as possible, but she would have a panic attack when she saw a hospital on TV, on the news, or while out. Savannah felt distant from her family and often behaved toward them with irritability and angry outbursts.
Savannah knew her behavior resulted from trauma and sought my help to reprocess the trauma with EMDR. In our first meeting, we thoroughly reviewed her life’s top 10 worst and best experiences. We discussed her symptoms and targets to address for reprocessing.
Savannah and I began treatment through a well-plotted course of targets, addressing the pandemic experience. Savannah’s eyes traced a light bar while she let her mind take her on a journey through memory, emotion, and the past. Much like a passenger on a train watches the changing landscape, Savannah observed her memories emerge while watching the light on the bar oscillate back and forth.
Immediately in the first session, she noticed that the memory she was working with became distant and fuzzy and did not cause feelings of distress any longer. In the next session, Savannah reported fewer traumatic dreams and better sleep. In this reprocessing, we discovered a link between another memory from her past and the Trauma from the pandemic.
That Link Was Transformative
When Savannah was nine and her cousin was six, they were in a terrible car accident. Her mom had them both in the car going to the market when a drunk driver hit them. Savannah was okay, but the position of her cousin’s car seat restraints caused injury to his airway. She could hear him gasping for air, and it scared her. Savannah felt a high level of disturbance with this memory.
There were also positive elements to this memory. Savannah’s cousin was taken to the hospital and treated by the doctors. Savannah remembered a kind nurse holding her mom’s hand while telling them her cousin would be okay. Savannah became a nurse for this reason.
Savannah wanted to give comfort and hope to families who had been through something hard like this. Through EMDR, this memory transformed from distressing to motivating. She felt encouraged by her original intention to become a nurse. She stated that as the distress around the experience decreased, she found herself and her purpose again.
Savannah and I continued to work over the next few months to release distress from the pandemic trauma and break through many memories of despair from her past. When we completed our work together, Savannah was symptom-free. She spent quality time with her family, feeling relaxed and at ease. She went back to work as a nurse, and the trauma memories from the hospital mainly became fuzzy and distant. They no longer caused her distress.
Savannah was happy, had found purpose in her life again, and reconnected with her loving family.
EMDR Changes Lives
Trauma comes in all sizes. Some forms of trauma are prominent, such as a natural disaster, rape, home invasion, and life-threatening or perceived life-threatening experiences. Sometimes a lot of little traumas can add up, like being bullied at school, believing your parents’ messages that you are unworthy or not good enough, or feeling shut down at work by a tyrannical boss.
In either case, EMDR can help you reprocess those memories and eliminate the resulting pain you feel, and set you free from being stuck in the past.
The following video explains how EMDR works with the body and the brain:
You are on this page because something is holding you back. You have some trauma and wonder if EMDR could help.
I have witnessed EMDR change lives. Let’s work together toward your freedom, not being held hostage by whatever keeps holding you back, blocking your joy, and making life difficult.
EMDR is an excellent fit to work with big and little traumas. It is a good fit for working with anxiety, depression, grief, loss, and PTSD.
Whatever your trauma, we will hold it together – you are not alone. Your life should be free from trauma, and you can find joy.
Disclaimer: Names and stories are composite narratives and do not reflect an actual client.