Stop putting trauma on your friends and strangers

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Something struck me in my youth – a lack of consideration. Young adults are ready to take any opportunity to tell the world why we feel bad without thinking about the effects – a phenomenon known as “trauma dumping”.

As a child who grew up on the internet, I understand and adore the mental health movement. I find it comforting to know that my psychological problems are valid and visible, at least for many of my colleagues.

The conversations about mental health in my growing years have changed so much since 2014 when it felt like it was the first time it was a more acceptable conversation on the internet. What has since evolved into an open and honest mental health environment looks like an open door for people to dump their trauma on one another as a means of communication.

Although trauma dumping is a phenomenon most commonly seen on the internet, it can be defined as a moment when someone is Abruptly sharing their traumatic experiences in ways that can feel toxic and self-sacrificing. It is behavior that has largely normalized online, in which we see people opening up to serious problems for the purpose of raising awareness.

This quickly leads to people joking about unhealthy eating habits or suicidal thoughts. Constantly dumping your trauma can be triggering for those around you and encourage unhealthy coping mechanisms.

There are so many days scrolling through TikTok and finding video by video where young adults and sometimes younger kids are using popular sounds and trends to voice their trauma while negative and unhelpful comments flood the comment areas. From April 15, 2021, 25 percent of users in the app were approximately between 10 and 19 years old. These users are some of the major contributors too the normalization trauma dumping.

A research paper from Nursing Open suggests that the age of 12-18 and 19-24 are the most impressive, a fact that explains the trauma dumping phenomenon. When young adults see YouTubers or even friends, open up and share their problems and negative feelings on social media, they take this as an opportunity to add their own to this. All too often, this makes people feel devalued because it gives the impression that their problems are not as serious as those of others.

As inappropriate as internet trauma dumping is, it is far more harmful in real, everyday conversations.

I think people are too comfortable confiding in their affairs to strangers and even their closest friends. You use them as a conversation starter and in many moments let the trauma become a single personality trait.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what that sounds like. I encourage people not to be ashamed of the luggage they are carrying, and I carry my own too. But when we blur the line between open, effective and honest communication and open discourse on very serious issues, I become hesitant.

I was at a social gathering recently and a young lady I had never met came up to me, very clearly sober. Within minutes of our introduction, she tells me that she has severe PTSD because she was the victim of a school shootout. I neither asked nor was I ready to hear, but she still gave me this heavy piece of information and access to a very vulnerable part of her. I asked myself, “What if someone around me also becomes a victim of a school shooting?” And then, in my horror, I thought, “What if they overhear?”

It goes without saying that people don’t always think before they speak. However, if you are trauma dumping in the same breath as you advocate for mental illness, then you are part of the problem. It has become a trend to talk about very serious, and in this case very traumatic, topics and make them a fun conversation starter. This does little to nothing for those who need and want to get better and learn to deal with their trauma.

Psychiatric centers like Avalon Malibu tell us that deflating and deflating both serve the purpose of expressing our overwhelming anger or frustration, but they accomplish it in different ways. Venting is the healthy outlet to alleviate these feelings when the person venting is not in a victim mentality. Even if you are a victim, your goal is not to blame anyone. When we venture out, we acknowledge our role in the subject and other people’s perspectives. Most importantly, ventilation should provide an opportunity to solve the problem.

However, draining it is much more toxic than venting it. Usually the person receiving the emotional dumping leaves feeling overwhelmed. In contrast to bleeding, the person who is bleeding has a victim mentality. They put all the blame on others, show no responsibility, and seldom consider others’ perspectives. Overall, trauma dumpers are not interested in solutions to solve the problem and do not respect time or limits.

You don’t know who can handle the information you share with them, especially when it comes to people you don’t know very well. Even more worrying, however, these behaviors and attitudes almost serve as an excuse not to seek real help and simply turn your trauma into a distinct personality trait.

I also understand that people who suffer from mental health may not always have the strength to get help. I believe that this should be blamed on the institutions, and in many cases the parents, who do little to address the effects of major traumatic events on their children. This leads people to seek validation elsewhere, creating an environment of toxic over-sharing instead of professional help or even effective methods of communicating with peers. However, we cannot promote these environments further without at least considering their consequences.

I understand that trauma is a part of us and for many of us it is an experience that we live with on a daily basis. However, this is not a singular defining factor and should not be treated as such.


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