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Why we need to stop glamourising healing from trauma

Why we need to stop glamourising healing from trauma

Think about a time when you were healing from an emotionally traumatic experience. Okay, don’t think about it too long or at all if you don’t want to.

Did any of your thoughts include:

  • Crying your eyes out in a psychologist’s office
  • Cancelling a social arrangement with friends
  • Said friends just disappeared because you did ‘too much work’
  • Having to leave the office early, so you could sob uncontrollably
  • Losing your job because the trauma impacted your work so greatly
  • Frequently waking in a cold sweat with flashbacks to the trauma
  • Queuing at a pharmacist for prescription medication
  • Dealing with judgement from loved ones who couldn’t understand why you needed said medication and couldn’t just “get over it”

Plus, so many more…

To create the above list, I interviewed many people who have experienced various traumatic events at different stages in their lives.

Although their experiences or ‘types’ of trauma were different and the timelines were different, the one thing they had in common was that each was healing.

All were healing in vastly different ways, and none were better or worse than others. It wasn’t particularly picturesque, but it was real life.

But whenever I see the healing process depicted on social media or in other pop culture, it’s nothing like what I’ve outlined above or experienced myself.

On social media, healing from emotional trauma is always very neat. And very tidy. It’s always very serene. There are seaweed-free, sandy beaches.

Everyone has perfectly manicured toenails (essential for the pending yoga). There’s often an array of herbal teas on display to assist with the healing process. Sorry, organic herbal teas. And so many bloody gratitude journals. Hashtag blessed.

But that’s not what healing from emotional trauma is like for everyone, in reality.

The healing process can be messy. It can be complicated. Talking about it makes others uncomfortable (except your therapist, but you have to pay them). It’s hard work.

There’s snot. So much snot. It’s definitely not glamourous.

I interviewed one woman whose emotionally traumatic experience left her healing in hospital, and she said that it’s as if the wellness industry was just gaslighting her.

We need to stop glamourising the healing process as this linear journey with KPIs and a deadline.

It’s time our pop culture stopped presenting emotional healing as a fairy tale where Cinderella sits on a picturesque beach at sunset, does some yoga, clutches her crystals, scribbles in her gratitude journal for a hot minute, has an epiphany, and just like that, all her trauma is healed.

Sarcasm aside, I don’t want to be dismissive of whatever is working for you. If some time in the sunshine, a couple litres of herbal tea and a few lines in a gratitude journal are what it takes for you to heal, then that’s great. Please keep doing what works best for you.

I’m writing this because I don’t want anyone healing from emotional trauma in the way it so often happens (as I’ve listed at the beginning of this article) to think they are somehow doing it ‘wrong’.

I don’t want anyone to feel like a failure, because their healing involves messy sobbing in the shower instead of peacefully meditating beside a salt lamp, drinking herbal tea, and smiling their problems away.

You’re not failing at all. You’re probably doing the best you can with whatever means you have, and that makes you awesome.

You do you, at your own pace.

Gratitude always has and will always be a big part of my life, and I metaphorically stand by my written, spoken and words about it.

Below are some of my thoughts on trauma, as well as things you can do that might help.

1. Keep conversations going

Opening up conversations about things like mental health and trauma shouldn’t just happen once a year on annual awareness days, and shouldn’t just be left to certain people.

It’s everyone’s responsibility 365 days a year not to stigmatise these discussions.

2. Know where to go for help

I’m not a medical professional or qualified trauma specialist, so all I have is lived experience.

I’m grateful every day that someone took me to speak with someone who was a medical professional as a first step several years ago.

You may be the person looking for help, or perhaps you’re looking to help someone else. Their or your GP would be a good place to start, and then referrals can be made if necessary.

Some other online resources include Lifeline, 1800Respect, and Beyond Blue.

3. Consider following these people

It’s up to each individual whether they are public about their trauma. Not everyone has to talk about their trauma, but some have chosen to.

Below are a few who have faced different ‘types’ of trauma, but still letting the sun shine on their day. They are working women (some with children of various ages), so their profiles, like mine, are a mix of personal and professional content.

4. Trauma is trauma

Finally, resist ‘ranking’ traumatic experiences as whose experience is better or worse. What is highly traumatic to me may not be to you, and vice versa.

This also means the healing process will look different for everyone, so please don’t ever compare your progress with someone else’s.

Lisa Cox

This article was written by Lisa Cox.

Lisa is an author, speaker and disability consultant rewriting the disability narrative in mainstream pop culture. She recently won the 2022 Excellence Award for Women in Leadership (QLD).

When she’s not writing on diversity and inclusion, Lisa can also be found procrastinating on Instagram with her support dog, Louis.

Learn more at

Guest Writer