Trauma isn’t a Competition

A very common response to trauma, both in individuals and in society, is to try and create objective measures of the pain inflicted and to downplay or disregard trauma whose sources aren’t severe enough to count as traumatizing in the eyes of the person doing the counting. This is then used to gaslight the trauma victim either by calling them weak and pathetic, saying that no one with any sort of strength would be hurt by what happened so you must just be a really useless and pathetic person, or by pointing out that so many other people have it way worse and they aren’t traumatized so you can’t be either.

It should go without saying that these are shitty things to do to someone else, but less obviously, they’re also shitty to do to yourself. Lots of trauma victims internalize the ideas society puts out and convince themselves that because they’re not a malnurished child soldier slowly dying of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, the pain they felt is either not real or not important enough to bother with.

This is a great way to make your trauma worse and further ruin your mental health. If you break a finger, you don’t ignore it because it’s not a broken femur and you don’t have internal bleeding, you go to the doctor. Mental health is no different, just because the pain you feel isn’t the worst pain that a human can possibly feel doesn’t make it not real or not pain.

There is no objective measure of trauma. Don’t let people tell you that you’re weak for being hurt, or that “it only counts if it was bad enough.” If it effected you, it was bad enough. Not everyone is harmed by the same things. Your pain is real, don’t let people gaslight you about it.

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