real life

The most heartbreaking things psychologists hear. All the time.

The decision to see a therapist, no matter your reasons, can make you feel the most alone person in the world.

You might feel uncomfortable by the thought of seeing a counsellor. You don’t think anyone will understand why you need help. Maybe you don’t understand why you need help. All you know is, you don’t feel right. 

With these doubts running through your head, it can be difficult to commit. To make the jump. To book the appointment. Drive to the clinic. Sit in the waiting room. “This is ridiculous” you think to yourself.

That’s the moment when you need to know about the others who have come before you.

Many others.

Psychologists have shared, through Ask Reddit, the most common things they’ve heard from patients in their clinics. These insights will help you realise you are not alone. That fear, dissatisfaction, emptiness? Others have felt it too. They’ve sought help. They’ve gotten better.

Here’s what you need to know:

“I don’t know if I need to be here.”

Very often, clients start with, “I don’t know if this is relevant/ I don’t know if I should say this” or some variant of this – Thatsockgirl.

“I feel guilty asking for help.” – Cerebella.

“I’m only here because I was ordered by the court to get therapy”. Followed by: “I don’t have a problem.. I just got caught.”  – DiepSleep, a past substance abuse therapist.

“I told myself I wouldn’t cry coming here. Sorry.” – Cerebella

“I wish I could go back in time.”

For people under about 60, what I often hear is something along the lines of “I just want to be like I used to be.” Unfortunately, most of us can never go back, especially when you consider the effects of normal aging and our tendency to look back fondly on the past and overestimate our abilities and existence. – Zombiewooof, neuropsychologist.

“I know I did the right thing, but I can’t get over the guilt.” – TIAT323.

I very often heard something to the extent of “I just feel like I’m living a life I did not AGREE to.” I consider it a silent mental illness, because while warped, it often nonetheless allows a person to go through the motions or even momentarily appease depression and anxiety. – Tia_Jamon, former psychiatrist now practicing another field of medicine.

The difference between sadness and depression. Post continues below video.

“I don’t give anything to myself.”

“I’m always taking care of others, but I feel guilty taking time for myself.” – Cereblla.

“I’ve been living my life doing what I thought I should and then I just suddenly realised, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. I fell like I’ve wasted so much time.” – TIAT323.

One of the most common things I hear people say, in some way, is that they help others even at the cost of themselves. Helping others is such a positive thing, but so many people forget to take care of themselves in the process. I have had clients loose jobs, not be able to pay rent, or even just put a serious amount of stress on themselves – all in an attempt to help somebody else out. It’s just not worth it. You are not REQUIRED to help anybody out, thus you can make a choice when to do it. – Hybriss099.

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“I can’t live with my regrets.”

So many talk about things they regret doing. -freud2012.

“I feel so alone.” – TIAT323.

People don’t grieve the parent that dies. They grieve the relationship they never had with that parent. – Reddit_spud.

“I’m scared.”

“It’s never going to get better. This is too hard, I’m never going to be able to get through this.” – TIAT323.

“But what if I get better and then it comes back? I’m so terrified of that happening.” – TIAT323.

“I’ve never done this before so I don’t know what to expect.” – Cerebella.

“I feel empty, detached.”

I hear a lot about about feeling empty, or like a fraud in life. – Freud2012.

Many people are living more in the life they imagine they could have had, or the one they hope to have, than their actual life. When people become self-aware of this they often report feelings of unreality and detachment. In severe cases a person might describe it as having just “woken up” into a life that formed around them, one that from their perspective only just appeared. – Tia_Jamon, former psychiatrist now practicing another field of medicine.

A patient said to me one day: “It isn’t sadness. Sometimes… a lot of the time… I just feel like there is a blanket covering me. From head to toe I’m wrapped up in it, I can’t move, I can’t breath, I can’t be me. I feel like someone is just wrapping me up and I can’t do anything about it. I pretend everything is fine, I act like I’m happy and having a good time but really… I’m stuck and can’t escape.” – Keep_it_calm.

“I am not worthy.”

I’ve been a psychologist for 25 years. The number of people who have scathing internal voices raking them over the coals for the least infraction is unbelievable and so sad. Sometimes it is the internalisation of a critical parent. Sometimes it is more biologically driven. Looking at developing healthy internal resources (emotion regulation, eg) can help. But mostly, trusting and believing that this hostile internal voice can be modified and changed is the most important work in a good therapeutic relationship. The relationship is key. – Abbiewhorent.

“I just don’t see the point. I’m going to die one day, it’s all pointless, it means nothing really in the long run.” – TIAT323.

Finally, remember…

Everyone thinks they are more f**ked up than they are – TIAT323

You are certainly not alone.