Rediscovering Myself: The Continuing Journey of EMDR Therapy

Three months after her first EMDR session, New York Times bestselling author Bassey Ikpi shares her ongoing transformation and newfound understanding of her mental health.

Three months after my intensive EMDR session, the transformative effects continue to unfold. In my previous article, I shared the profound shifts I experienced during and immediately after the session. Since then, each week has brought new realizations, reframing my understanding of myself and my mental health.

I feel as if I am undergoing a deep transformation, reshaping my identity from a more authentic place. It's like rediscovering the person I was meant to be before trauma altered my path. The bipolar diagnosis that defined me for decades has been shed, revealed as an ill-fitting protective cover I adopted out of necessity. Understanding childhood trauma as the root cause of my symptoms has led to a complete reevaluation of my self-image.

EMDR has shown me how severe anxiety has controlled my life. This core anxiety, stemming from early trauma, fueled the mood swings, irritability, and unhealthy coping methods I once attributed to bipolar disorder. This reframing has resulted in a new diagnosis: Cyclothymia, also known as Bipolar 3, rooted in C-PTSD in my case.

Unlocking Healing: My Intensive Journey with EMDR Therapy

Amidst this identity upheaval, I sometimes look back nostalgically at the perceived security of my former diagnosis. While it provided some recognizable handholds, I now understand that it was masking the true source of my turmoil. EMDR has sparked a fundamental shift, allowing me to sit with physical and emotional discomfort instead of resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms. I've learned to manage my anxiety through deep breathing, meditation, somatic exercises, and other healthy strategies.

This new understanding of my mental health has led to grieving the loss of my former self-identity, but it has also created space for a more authentic self, rooted in emotional honesty. It's challenging to relearn how to exist without trauma's shadow guiding my actions, but it's a necessary journey. Some days feel like an epic rebirth, shedding old narratives. Other days bring subtler awakenings, like nature's gradual thaw into spring. Through it all, there's a constant evolution and a hope I never thought possible.

Bassey Ikpi is a mental health advocate and the New York Times Bestselling Author of I’m Telling The Truth But I’m Lying.

Need some help? Here are a few resources to get support. 

Black Therapists Rock 

Therapy for Black Men 

Therapy for Black Girls 

Therapy in Color 

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