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If you have experience with trauma-informed mental health care, it's quite possible that you're also familiar with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. This therapy is an intervention used to help the brain resolve unprocessed traumatic memories, as well as the thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and physical reactions or sensations connected to those memories. But, is EMDR therapy useful for eating disorder treatment? That's a nuanced question without a one-size-fits-all answer. However, as someone who is currently in the thick of EMDR sessions myself, I want to examine its potential benefits for eating disorder recovery.
For almost a year, I have been going to therapy to work through the trauma associated with the debilitating episodes of acute panic and anxiety I suffered late in the summer of 2021. In recent weeks, I have been practicing my anxiety-mitigation strategies and testing my resilience to anxiety triggers in preparation for a return to the location where the apex of the episodes occurred. With extreme gratitude, I'm happy to say that revisiting the place was a tremendous success.
I recently bought a deck of cards full of question prompts, and one of the first question cards I drew was, "What is your vice?" The answer that surfaced for me was familiar: food. I will always be conscious about food, even in times of ease in my recovery. Sometimes this reality is frustrating, and I envy the people around me who seem to enjoy food without stress or guilt. I also learn about the depths of myself from the healing process. The lessons I've taken from binge eating disorder remind me that there's always more to uncover about myself and eating disorders like binge eating disorder (BED).
Up to this point in my life, addressing my mental health struggles and seeking recovery has been personal work, and I've never been to therapy to help with mental health conditions. I’ve learned about my illnesses and done self-reflection and soul-searching. It’s been by myself, except for a stint of attending peer support groups and being a part of online peer support groups. During all this time, I’ve wondered, would I benefit from therapy for my mental health?
Facing a verbally abusive situation is emotionally and physically draining. In addition, many victims of abuse find that alcohol plays a factor in how their circumstances play out daily. As someone who lived in a relationship of verbal abuse, alcohol, and substance abuse, I found the combination of these outside elements intensified an already negative situation. 
It's one thing to say that the opinions of others don't matter, but actually believing these words to be true is another beast entirely. Growing up, people had a bad habit of telling me who I was, what I offered, and even who I was going to be. Sometimes I would brush these comments off, but I would mostly let them sit and fester until the line between what I believed and what others believed of me blurred. I was susceptible to those thoughts and expectations of others because I lost touch with my sense of self.
I will never forget one specific breakfast during my time in residential treatment. An on-staff clinician supervising the meal told me to throw out my pancakes and grab a new batch. When I asked her why, the answer was confusing, but as with most rules at this inpatient facility, it left no room for further questions. "You spread peanut butter on your pancakes—that's a food ritual," she replied.
I haven’t heard schizoaffective voices in over a year. I am so elated about this, especially since I’ve struggled with auditory hallucinations since my first and only psychotic episode in 1998 when I was 19. Being free of the voices is absolutely liberating.
If you've ever asked yourself, "Why do I feel like hurting myself when I'm mad?" know that you are not alone.
Thanks to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I'm easily distracted. This is especially difficult when I spend time on YouTube binges or scrolling through social media apps, even though I'd earmarked that time for working.

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Comments

Denise
I am so glad to find your blog. My son is is schizoaffective and extremely resistant to bathing at all. He is very good to wash his hands and is often very concerned about the cleanliness of food prep but will not bathe. It is so tough because he also refuses therapy and medication so we work very hard to keep him involved with his family everyday to prevent bad episodes that seem to be worse after being alone too much. HIs smell is really not great and it lingers on the furniture and around the house. We want to make him welcome to be with us whenever he wants but the smell is really challenging.
Jemma
I’m turning 14 this year I’ve been self harming since I was 10 I stopped because my mum found out but I didn’t actually stop I just moved from my upper arms to my thighs she didn’t notice for about 2 1/2 years. In may I got sick of doing in on my thighs it no longer hurt to see in the mirror it no longer hurt when I cut myself I didn’t feel a thing no matter how hard I tried so I started doing it on my upper arm again. It hurt It felt good then stopped hurting but I didn’t really care this time because I had a routine to follow ever since April I would cut myself every week I’d make a deadline for myself so if I did it on Thursday the next week I’d do it on Thursday again or before that cutting no longer felt good it felt like a chore but I didn’t care. Mum found out in December and has been trying to convince me to show her my arm I refuse. New School year started I have no friends in any classes I sit alone and no one talks to me I feel invisible to everyone. I can’t focus on my work because all I can think about is the appropriate time to ask to go bathroom for 10 minutes unnoticed so I could cut myself because I feel so shut I just want to feel something I’m so desperate I started on my wrist today for the first time and I love the burn but I’m worried about the long lasting scars and the fresh cuts that will keep coming because I can’t make myself stop for the life of me especially when I’m at school. I cook a lot I have cooking in school mums signing me up for cooking classes I need to roll up sleeves for cooking I’m screwed and I can’t decide to myself if I regret it or not if I could go back in time and change that decision would I do it?
Andy
Thank you so much for this.
Living with anxiety its easy to forget to have courage.
C
Hi, i'm 11 and i have been struggling with self harm since I was 8. I have scars up my arms and legs and it is weird and embarrassing. As a young girl people don't tend to understand I have problems too. I don't put forth that much effort to hide my scars because I know they are a part of me but I can still get subconscious about them. I told a few close friends and one of them told my school counselor and she of course had to tell my mom. Although my mom tries to understand I can tell she can't, I sometimes notice her looking at my arms and shaking her head. I just feel like i mess up so many things and tonight was very hard for me. We had an incident and now I feel worse than ever. I feel like life would be better here on earth for my single mother is I was gone. She has me and my brother and I feel like a rock holding her down. I feel like my brother and mom hate me and I'm not OK. I want to get better so when I got a very deep urge I resisted since I have been sober for a month now :) I just want help.
Elena Lokvig
My daughter is a multiple, and one of them is a social path, who I dread coming out. One is kind and astute, one is about two years old. I have dealt with this her whole life, she will not let anyone put her under Hypnosis. I wrote a letter to Dr Phill and few years back and got no response. When she was in the hospital they saw it and charted it. I need to get all her records. My prayer is for her to be shown the other personalities. I played a horrible phone message she left me once. When she herd it she cried and said it was not her. Thank you