I think of ‘trauma’ as a massive umbrella term used to describe an event or events that have occurred in your life, and what you experienced was unpleasant and/or distressing and has been hard to cope with and had an impact on your life in some way. But this term is very flexible and means different things to different people. There are no set limits on what can be classed as a trauma. Personally, I’ve been treated mostly with respect when talking about my trauma, but for many people opening up about it can leave them feel not only vulnerable and upset, but sometimes very invalid. It is not okay to invalidate someone’s trauma, don’t let anyone tell you that it wasn’t severe or ‘bad enough’ to be serious (every trauma is serious). The same can also be said for forms of addiction, no matter how long your addition lasted for, or how serious the physical impacts were- you are still valid, in the same way weight, inpatient stays and how you look do not impact how valid or serious an eating disorder is. Often playing in to these natural and common insecurities about how severe and valid a mental illness, addiction or trauma is, can encourage an unhealthy, toxic and often deadly sense of competitiveness in mental health communities. The trauma is valid no matter if you did or didn’t develop a mental health problem like PTSD or anxiety because of it. How long it lasted, the age you were when it happened and who it involved do not have any impact on the perceived ‘severity’ of the trauma. And of course it is absolutely never your fault. I think the way to think about it is that trauma is not about *what* happened, but about the way it affects/affected you and the impacts of what you experienced. Everyone is allowed to work through, move on and heal from what happened- you are worthy of that. Always.