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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / vicarious trauma

Topic: vicarious trauma

3 posts, 0 answered
  1. tooth
    tooth avatar
    1 posts
    29 October 2021

    is it possible to experience vicarious trauma without being a psychologist/police officer/first responder?

    im just a kid and every friend ive ever made has had some sort of horrible ptsd that they've shared with me. ive experienced emotional burnout, compassion fatigue and panic attacks. everyone sees me as the person whos ok with them trauma dumping and venting out of nowhere and i understand that people need supportive friends but pretty much everyones only support network and i just get really tired. i dont know how to express my feelings at all, especially when im angry and sometimes all of this horrible stuff just builds up and i get panic attacks or just break down and won't be able to function for a few days. i also sometimes feel like everyone i know could die and i wouldn't be sad, or that someones dying is the only way the world will be quiet and stop harassing me.

    i dont know if this is something everyone experiences but lmk

  2. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6151 posts
    29 October 2021 in reply to tooth
    Hi tooth,

    Welcome to the forums and thank you for your openness and bravery in sharing this. We’re so sorry to hear you've been feelin burnt out, fatigued, having panic attacks and feeling anxiety about your friends. This must be incredibly difficult.

    It sounds like you're an amazing friend, but we do have to look after ourselves before helping others sometimes. It sounds like it could be really helpful to talk to a trusted adult, like a school counsellor or the GP about this. Panic attacks are really, really hard to deal with, and it might help to talk it through with someone. The Beyond Blue counsellors are always here for you on 1300 22 4636, or via webchat here (11am-12am AEDT). There’s also Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or webchat,.

    Hopefully some of our lovely community members will spot it here soon enough and may have some understanding or advice for you. In the meantime, here's some pages on some of the things you're experiencing that you might want to look at:  Thanks again for sharing, you never know who might be helped by reading this, so please feel free to update your thread anytime.

    Kind regards,

    Sophie M
  3. Isabella_
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Isabella_ avatar
    153 posts
    29 October 2021 in reply to tooth

    Hi there,

    Thanks for taking the time to open up.

    Anyone is susceptible to vicarious trauma, more so professionals/first responders etc because they are regularly involved in traumatic situations. From what you're describing, it really does sound like that's what you're experiencing.

    I know with things like this it can feel as though you're the exception, and you start to invalidate your own experiences by comparing it to others (ie. someone else has it worse, so I'm doing fine). I'm glad you've reached out on here hopefully to accept within yourself that you are in fact experiencing vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and poor mental health from being a support system for so many people.

    It's a lot of pressure for one person. I can see that you're a really good friend for being that support for so many. But it's important to know that you need to set boundaries between yourself and others when you're in that position, and put your mental health first. It isn't selfish, it is completely necessary to your health.

    You've mentioned that you find it really difficult to share your feelings. It sounds like you're bottling a lot of things up to the point where you can't function for days at a time. You're exhausted, angry, tired, and it sounds like you're experiencing a lot of anxiety. Everyone is relying on you to be their support network, and it sounds like you don't have that for yourself, and you're feeling really burnt out emotionally.

    Have you ever considered reaching out to a GP for a mental health care plan, or taking the steps to talk to a professional? How would you feel about taking the steps to do that?

    I want you to know that I hear you, and your feelings and experience is valid, and it's so important for you to take care of yourself. You aren't equipped to deal with ptsd, and as you've said, you're only a kid.

    How do you think your friends would take it if you were honest about how you were feeling?

    1 person found this helpful

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