Seeing Through The Pain


I’ve had eating disorders since I was 15 years old. Those last 10 years of my life, can be explained by so much trauma in my past – my mother got diagnosed with cancer when I was just 9 years old. My father was bipolar, he was an alcoholic, he was violent physically, psychologically, and sexually.  My parents got divorced 2 years after that and because my older sister was studying in Paris, I became the carer for my mum whilst also going to school. Every so often I would visit my father but it was my mum that I spent most of my time with.

Then one day, when I was 15, my mother died.

My life changed again. The little bit of childhood I had, disappeared. I went to live with my father’s aunt for the next 2 years before I ended up living alone and meeting the man who would become my husband. With my new life, I had to do something when I could no longer manage my anorexia-bulimia and my studies. So in 2014, I contacted Mrs Bernard and she saw me until I graduated 2 years later.

I thought I had it under control but some time later, when my eating disorder was taking over my life again, I got in touch with her again. We resumed regular sessions and in July 2019, Mrs. Bernard suggested I meet a doctor who worked at the university hospital. I agreed and that’s how I ended up being hospitalised for the 4th time in my life.

After 4 weeks, just when I thought I was ready to go home, my memory started to bring back scenes from my past. Trauma that my mind had protected me from but here it was – real, vivid, and in right in front of me.

The violence that I had endured from my father from the age of 9 to 16, came back in form of flashbacks, nightmares, and physical sensations that rippled through my body.

I thought I was going crazy. I had seen my father be violent with my mother but I had no memory of any violence towards me.

Thanks to Mrs Bernard, I was finally able to say what this man had done to me. I was finally able to speak, to express myself, and talk about my trauma. Mrs Bernard took me through several emotional regulation sessions. I felt like I was living each scene in the present. I could see more, hear more, feel more. But with that presence came new associations. Noises in the hospital room transported me back to the past, and I couldn’t cope. You know what bothered me the most? It was the radiator in my hospital room.

One session, I explained that the noise of the radiator reminded me of a scene from my past. Mrs Bernard asked me to focus on the half-second where the emotion was at its strongest, and I’ll never forget it. At that moment, I zoomed in on the noise of the radiator and with it, the violence of my father came back flooding back with it.

Then Mrs Bernard asked me to close my eyes and express what physical emotions I was feeling at that moment. I told her that my heart was beating fast, I felt nauseous, I had a knot in my throat, I felt agitated, and I was breathing abnormally fast.

We went through this process three times in a row.

Then something happened when I returned to that hospital room the next time. The radiator was turned on but for the first time since I discovered my trauma, the noise only disturbed me slightly but I did not experience the scene in the past tense.

I was finally able to get rid of something that kept taking me back to the past against my will.

After 77 days in the hospital, I was finally discharged.

Thanks to Mrs Bernard and learning to regulate my emotions, I can now rebuild my life with the confidence that I have the power to stop reliving my father’s violence. I can survive my father’s violence and the loss of my mother.

I no longer pay attention to the noise of the radiator in my room. That sound can never take me back to my past anymore. That bottomless pit took away my life for 16 years – no more. I can now live my life and it’s all thanks to discovering how to regulate my emotions.

All I have to say is THANK YOU.