An illustration of a woman doing eye therapy on another woman and a thought bubble appearing behind the person getting the therapy showing traumatic thoughts.

Trauma has a new, unlikely opponent: How your eyes can help you emotionally heal

Editor's note: This story contains references to trauma and sexual violence.  

Madalyn Guthrie credits much of her recovery from a 2019 rape to — if you boil it down — quickly moving her eyes. A therapist treated Guthrie for PTSD with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, referred to as EMDR.

“It really is life changing,” Guthrie said. She’s now 20, works as a waitress, assists people with disabilities and studies childhood education. 

EMDR is emerging as a feasible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which an estimated one in 11 people in the United States face. Sexual assault, as Guthrie experienced, is one of the leading contributors to PTSD. 

EMDR was trending recently when Prince Harry told Oprah that it helped him with PTSD. 

“It cleans my hard drive,” he said on a new Apple TV+ series “The Me You Can’t See.” 

His disclosure was timely. 

The pandemic “has triggered significant emotional, physical, and economic problems around the world,” University of Oklahoma doctors wrote in the Psychiatric Times.

Anna Skeels performs on a stage wearing a dress, bonnet and floral apron.

The ‘tortured artist’ trope is torturing artists

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. My high school’s Friday night showing of “Beauty and the Beast” starts in an hour.  As Lumiere the candlestick does his sound check, the rest of the cast is waiting onstage for our own. Our lighting designer is running through cues, making the hot stage lights jump from bright white to blue to red and back again. Someone is playing the piano in the green room (probably a “Hamilton” song). I’m in my huge Mrs. Potts costume and I can’t quite figure out how to breathe.

Hanging in there: Mental health and wellbeing in the aftermath of COVID-19

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. As a psychiatrist, part of my routine, not surprisingly, is asking people how they are. Recently, I have been struck by the fact that most people now reply with the same phrase: “I am hanging in there.”

One patient broke it down for me when I asked what this meant: “Doc, it means I am OK for the moment, but I have no idea what’s going to happen next.” 

Other patients have agreed with this sentiment. A few recalled a poster from the ’70’s of a kitten hanging from a rope. The kitten is OK — for the moment.

After misdiagnosis and relentless symptoms, I’ve felt the toll of RLS on my mental health. We need better care.

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. Editor’s note, trigger warning: The essay discusses suicidal ideation. If you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal ideation, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), or message the Crisis Text Line at 741741. The programs provide free, confidential support 24/7. The author's full name is being withheld to protect his privacy.

Voice your struggles: Pittsburgh university students create spaces to talk about mental health during the pandemic

Facing a deepening pandemic, another stretch of mostly online classes and a national backdrop of political turmoil, Pittsburgh-area students are turning to their colleges — and to each other — to meet growing mental health needs. Kayla Koch, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, said students were already struggling with the transition that college life brings, but the pandemic has made everything harder. “The entire pandemic is a time of trauma," Koch said. "We are all living through a trauma and expected to produce and exist as if we are not.”

She's working to create a space for students to talk honestly about mental health. “Our goal is to come into these meetings and say, ‘This is normal.