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Trauma is everywhere.... EVERYWHERE. Complex trauma portrayed in everyday life

"She doesn't know what she's talking about.

She thinks everyone has ADHD." This was recently said by a pediatrician and a school counselor to a teenage client of mine, in response to a diagnosis of ADHD. While I do not believe everyone has ADHD, the diagnosis correlates very highly with trauma, both acute and complex, which IS highly prevalent, especially post-COVID. With rates of PTSD in adults considered to be 6% of Americans, and rates of complex PTSD being more than 4%, that is more than one in ten Americans carrying some form of trauma in their day-to-day lives. The modern-day trauma treatments available today are phenomenally effective and produce rapid results, with studies reporting 77% to 100% of patients seeing improved wellbeing. The problem we are faced with is we don't know what trauma looks since it is so common. Take a look at this Reddit feed where hundreds of people have posted, acknowledging the many ways they downplay their own pain and "suck it up" to move on in life. If only it were that easy.

"You need to watch this series! These are our clients!"

This was a statement my own therapist said to me, regarding the Netflix series Maid. It's just one of many, many movies and television series that shines a light on the immense pressure of everyday life for so many of us in America. And it's not just therapy clients that experience this. Therapists do, too. As well as many, many people that have never even considered attending therapy because "there's nothing wrong." Take a look at some "slice-of-life" examples of the traumatic experiences many of us live through every day with the following award-winning productions.

Netflix's Maid: Working the gig economy as a single parent with no education

Maid tells the story of America's single parents. Living dollar to dollar with never enough to make ends meet, Alex must learn to navigate the complex system of social services to receive the support she needs for she and her daughter to survive. A history of complex family trauma, substance abuse and other mental health diagnoses paints a picture of a life lived on repeat as Alex strives to separate from an abusive partner. The slightest mistake or complication sends her life spiraling out of control, a reality lived by far too many Americans.

Hulu's The Bear: A peek into the passion and extreme stress environments of the restaurant industry

Having inherited his brother's rundown diner, a Michelin-star-ranked chef works to cope with a legacy of debt, health code violations, kitchen politics, alcoholism and broken relationships. Carmy "Bear" Berzutto has to face each day navigating family and work politics with no shortage of overlap. Experiencing one catastrophe after another through the lives of the troubled, yet earnest employees, the emotional strain is real for the viewer. Yet, the show also captures the passion, drive and creativity of the service workers who sacrifice so much to cater to our epicurean whims.

Netflix's Ginny and Georgia: A legacy of abuse and trauma passed down, despite a mother's best efforts

Heralded by a number of my clients as a must-see, Ginny and Georgia portrays the love-hate relationship of a mother and her teenage daughter. Like any mother, Georgia is trying to give her daughter the best of everything, and a life like she never had. And like any teenage daughter, Ginny still won't be protected from her own traumas. Sure, Ginny's life doesn't match Georgia's childhood- no physical or sexual abuse happening, and no poverty that she is aware of. And yet she still self-harms. Because trauma still trickles down, and money and status do not protect us from deep emotional pain.

AMC's Lucky Hank: The politics of our educational system From the creator's of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk returns to star as Lucky Hank: a miserable professor at a very underfunded college, wrestling with a souring interpersonal life, an existential crisis, and the everchanging politics of the educational system. Despite using humor and alcohol to numb the pain, the bitterness seeps through and into his classroom. The series reminds us that teachers are human, too. And "hurt people hurt people." Just as unintentional damage can be handed down from parent to child, so too can it go from teacher to student, and from employer to employee.

Apple's Shrinking: Therapists need therapy, too!

Jason Segel and Harrison Ford astound, alongside an entire cast of stellar performances in a comedy that boasts a plethora of awards. After losing his wife in a sudden accident, Jimmy's mental health is at least as poor as most of his clients, if not worse. The series examines the everyday pain of friends and neighbors, colleagues and clients, and a newly-single father who decides to cut through simple placating support that never does enough to truly heal. Putting a captivating, comedic spin on multiple types of everyday trauma, we see our own selves, neighbors, friends and colleagues portrayed in their individual struggles.


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