Jolene remembers seeing her daughter lying face down in the water. It’s an image that would haunt her.
She and her family had been enjoying a day at the lake when the inner tube that she and her children were on collided with a boat. Her youngest daughter was airlifted to Minneapolis and diagnosed with moderate to severe brain injury. The ordeal was agonizing.
“I would never wish anything like this on my worst enemy,” Jolene says. “I would have given anything to change places with her.”
Anxiety gripped Jolene’s life in the aftermath. It was a daily battle, and was so intense she sometimes felt like she was almost choking. She had horrible nightmares, and sleep was allusive. It was painful and interfered greatly with her parenting.
“I worried about her all the time,” Jolene said. “I really didn’t want to leave her side.”
Along with trauma from the accident, she was also dealing with a divorce. And she wasn’t the only one in her family who was struggling. Jolene’s son, Owen, who had also been injured in the accident, was wrestling with anxiety too. He was especially fearful of the severe weather. Sometimes he wouldn’t go out and play because he was fearful, and he was nervous when his mother left because he was afraid something would happen to her.
“I couldn’t go anywhere without being worried about something,” Owen said. “It was not fun being stressed about everything, everywhere I went.”
Jolene turned to The Village and began undergoing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy with counselor Amber Morrighan. EMDR involves using stimulation to influence or interrupt how a client processes information, allowing the individual to develop new thought patterns for dealing with painful memories.
The effect was remarkable.
“It was almost like it was peeling the layers of an onion back where she got to what the core was,” Jolene said. “It was so crazy to think that just an hour ago (at the beginning of a session) I was very anxious and stressed about it and now you can leave and you have this weight lifted off of your shoulders.”
In light of the progress Jolene was making, they thought it might also help Owen with his anxieties. They were right. He engaged in only four sessions of EMDR, and he and his mother were shocked at how quickly he once again seemed like a little boy who wanted to play.
“You can’t really describe it with words because it’s just a miracle how it works. It helps you relax somehow,” Owen said. “I don’t know how it helped me, but I know one thing, that it did help me, a lot.”
He says, “I’m truly a way different person””
Life is different for Jolene too. Her anxiety is under control, and she has so much more peace of mind as a parent.
“Before I came to The Village, putting my kids in a tube and taking them tubing on the water was not even a possibility … I couldn’t even fathom it,” Jolene said.
But that’s changed.
“We have taken them tubing multiple times,” she said. “I still want my kids to experience the normal things that kids should experience – the fun things.”
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