When an Online Therapist Made Me Question the Validity of My PTSD


One of the first times I told someone I was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it was to a stranger online. I liked the idea of being anonymous but still being able to speak about my experiences. She asked me what had happened. Once I had finished and waited a moment, I saw her reply.

Is that all?

I had admitted to a deep and personal part of my past, and this person basically told me what I went through wasn’t a big deal. I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting from this online therapist, but it certainly wasn’t that I’d end up playing “pain Olympics.”

After I ended the chat, I thought a lot about that conversation. I started to question the validity of my own trauma because although my PTSD has now been professionally diagnosed, I’d often wondered, just like the online therapist did, if what I had been through was bad enough to “count.” I felt that so many others had faced worse situations than I had, and what I was feeling wasn’t the result of a mental illness, but a result of weakness.

My diagnosis is still new. I still have questions about what it means for my life, but this conversation made me realize something important. What I realized is PTSD isn’t a competition. All people with PTSD will have dealt with different traumatic experiences, and our experiences can never be identical.

This leaves our traumas open for scrutiny and debate from those who interact with us in ways which can be unhelpful and demeaning. However, others’ ignorance doesn’t make our PTSD invalid. It only serves to highlight that education on PTSD is still incredibly needed within our society.

So to all my incredible, courageous trauma survivors, I just need you to know your experiences are valid, regardless of how some people may perceive them. You are so strong to fight this battle. So don’t let the actions of others discourage you because you truly are worth recovery.

Image via Thinkstock.

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