OPINION: 'We need to talk about the 'sadfishing' culture of social media.'

I was deep in an iPhone scroll hole, when a reel of turquoise waves, gently lapping a cliff-lined Euro shore, idled on my feed. 

The hovering text read: “Shoutout to all the parents trying to heal the pain of their past while healing the pain of their divorce while trying to stop generational trauma from spreading while focusing on being a healthy co-parent,” and… ugh. It made me really pissy.

I had no issue with the creator, nor her innocuous messaging. It was just the final straw for me in a veritable ocean of trite social media accounts romanticising trauma and perpetuating victim mentality


My long-suffering soapbox of an Instagram account bore the brunt of my irritation. Acrylic nails angrily tapping out:  

“This is life! Welcome! S**t stuff happens. Fifty per cent of married couples get divorced and you don’t need to create a whole-ass personality out of “healing”. You also don’t get extra points for *not* f**king up your kid in the process. You’re a parent — it’s literally your job.”

The chronic overuse of the word ‘trauma’ is the blight of online culture. I want to talk about it, because I have had an absolute gutful of every minor hardship or inconvenience being labelled as ‘trauma’. 

Breaking up with your fiance is a really f**ked time, granted. It's sad, it’s hard and you may feel parts of yourself slipping beyond your grip as you sit in its wreck. 

But reflecting on this, while sipping an almond latte after a sunrise matcha dance — you’re not ‘healing from trauma’. You’re just processing really difficult s**t and you can do that without stealing diagnostic labels from people who actually need them.

Watch: Clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani explains why the term 'trauma' is being overused. Post continues after video.

Video via MedCircle

Overcoming trauma is ugly. Healing from something that has truly detached you from the world as you knew it isn’t aesthetic, or aspirational. It can’t be curated or whored out for shares and likes on the 'gram. The unsightly parts of healing are actually the most promising, but they’re not ripe public fodder. 


Embracing your darkness is often where you’ll find your light, so don’t f**king let anyone make you think you’re not “healing” properly if you’re not doing yoga on a beach or filling your apartment with scented candles and salt lamps.

This sunshine and rainbows repackaging of emotional regeneration is for the most part, performative, and potentially an obstacle to actual, meaningful growth. 

We need to stop presenting healing as some sort of fairytale, like all it takes is a few cups of herbal tea to dissipate the grey cloud that utterly consumes you. 

For me, healing was grotesque. It was snotty, unwashed and self-sabotaging. It frequently masqueraded as progress, only to feel the emerging glimmers of myself dragged back into the depths of aching solemnity once again.

Listen: Does google say you have ADHD or OCD? Did TikTok tell you you’re lactose intolerant? On Mamamia Out Loud, we discuss why the idea of getting a formal diagnosis for your medical condition has taken hold. Post continues below.

The time and space to heal is a luxury. Letting all responsibility elude you as you sob upon unscrubbed shower tiles is a privilege. At some point, you’re going to have to turn off the taps, stop f**king crying and get on with your s**t. 

Pseudo psychology isn’t going to help you, and diluting the only terminology that people with genuine PTSD have to label their experiences into some sort of cheap, trendy buzzword is deplorable. 


Don’t get me wrong — it’s not the suffering Olympics. 

Your pain is real and important, whether it’s trauma or not, but unless you duel with the darkness of nightmares, fear, isolation, hypervigilance, panic or any other serious, neurological changes that disrupt your ability to live a free, happy life, it’s probably not trauma. 

Talking like a f**king therapist isn’t going to improve your understanding of your experiences, it is going to actively get in the way of it. It’s statistically impossible that all of our exes were narcissists, but there goes everyone on the internet with the old pop psychology again. 

Same goes for “gaslighting” and being “triggered”. It’s about time we behaved responsibly, and left therapy-speak for actual therapists.

Since I picked this little hill to die on, I’ve had a wealth of DM's calling me ‘horrible’, ‘overly stoic’, and all manner of things that paint me a cold and unfeeling b**ch. 

But the reality is, many people are so conditioned to superficial, sugar-coated conversation that my blunt, direct point of view is perceived as a personal attack. 

I’m not dismissive of what you’ve been through. I know how it feels, to be relentlessly broken. But sometimes you just have to choose living over ‘healing’, sometimes because there are things you don’t ever fully heal from.

So, for everyone out there just doing their best despite whatever rotten s**t has befallen you, I see you. 

No patronisingly calm ocean waves. No pastel-coloured platitudes. Just a big ol’ virtual fist bump, from one resilient motherf**ker to another.


None of us have any control over the hands we’re dealt, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still play the crap out of them. There is glory to be found in consciously choosing to just get the f**k on with things — mainly, because at some point we have to. 

But also, because I, personally, would rather wax my vag with duct tape than ever do a sunrise matcha dance.

Everyone needs someone in their life who thinks the sun shines out of their arse. But they also need someone who will call them on their bulls**t and offer some raw, unpalatable truth. 

And on this occasion, that person is me.

So I’ll say it again. You probably haven’t got trauma. 

And your ex is just an arsehole.

For more sweary, unsolicited life advice (plus no BS skincare and sex toy recommendations) you can connect with me here.

For professional support for trauma, you can find a practitioner here. The directory includes health professionals who can provide trauma-informed psychological counselling, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, general practitioners, accredited mental health social workers, mental health nurses, occupational therapists, counsellors, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers. 

What are your feelings on 'trauma' labelling? Share them with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Instagram/@_carly_sophia; @themichelledempsey.

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