EMDR & Panic Attacks

My experience with anxiety has been long and debilitating. About 25-years ago I was tested for allergies after a strange, strong reaction to a rare food (jicama) left me puzzled. Seeking professional treatment, I underwent a skin test with an allergist. The results were shocking; I was anaphylactic (deathly allergic to bee venom). The process resulted in me watching a frightful instruction video alone for 45 minutes.

I was traumatized, how did I not know I was deathly allergic to bee stings? Why didn’t my parents know this? Hadn’t I been stung before? All these questions were answered, however, not convincingly. Apparently, I had been mildly allergic until an incident around the age of 14 when a swarm of bees stung me. This was the moment my body when into shock and became anaphylactic.

Sadly, the rest of the food items I was even somewhat positive to was immediately added to the “I’ll-die-if-I-eat” list in my mind, which simply wasn’t true – common items such as carrots, parsley, onions, and potatoes. It didn’t matter how logical the food allergy information was my limbic brain sequestered this experience and festered into what became a restrictive eating disorder. Once I realized my irrational state I secured a mental health therapist to help me with my panic attacks.

Almost 25-years later I encountered EMDR. I had successfully reshaped my eating habits yet still felt anxious around unknown foods, such as a sensation of my throat tightening and even some light headedness. The EMDR went directly to the memory and I was surprised how powerful it still was…the fear in my limbic brain was alive and well. Not only did I flush out the intense panic but the astute clinician reprocessed my irrational belief from – I was going to die – to – food will not kill me. The remarkable moment of truth came days after the EMDR session when I was presented with an unknown food; I stayed calm, my throat did not tighten, and a new thought came to me, food will not kill me and I ate with confidence.  I’m still amazed by the powerful results, I truly feel free to eat whatever I want!