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This ‘Stranger Things’ star asked you to describe your trauma in 5 words—and the responses got super real


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Photo: Getty Images/Frazer Harrison

Whether it’s a dance challenge (the entire world has Drake’s “In My Feelings” on repeat at this point) or a video of tiny hamsters eating burritos, it’s hard to guess what the next phenomenon on the internet will be. And while many digital sensations skew lighthearted and fun, one recent interactive trend got super real, super fast.

You’ve probably seen those “describe ___ in five words” tweets cycling through Twitter; many ask you to do something simple like describe a favorite movie or TV show. But when Shannon Purser—AKA Barb on Stranger Thingsdecided to put a mental-health spin on it, people took it seriously. After tweeting “describe your trauma in five words,” she received a flood of genuine responses.

When describing their trauma, tweeters turned to a wide range of ways to use those five words: one simply wrote “guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt,” and others replied “family pretended it never happened” and “I still can’t tell anyone.” While some answers were about sexual abuse, others referenced of loss, anxiety, and toxic relationships.

“Way more people are answering this with sincerity than I anticipated, and to them I send love. And a big shout-out to everyone replying so kindly and thoughtfully to others. The world needs more listening ears.” —Shannon Purser

And after receiving nearly 600 responses, Purser made a great point: “Way more people are answering this with sincerity than I anticipated, and to them I send love. And a big shout-out to everyone replying so kindly and thoughtfully to others. The world needs more listening ears,” she writes.

It can be incredibly hard to open up about mental-health issues—especially if you’re not able to talk to the people closest to you. But this Twitter trend and Purser’s creative use of it proves that there are endless great, simple ways to start to a big conversation.

This app lets you send out a mental health SOS without saying a word. Or, find out why you should pick a bedtime (and stick with it!) for the sake of your mental health.

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