Therapists Break Down Which Normal Things Patients Are Most Embarrassed About
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Mental health symptoms and disorders are incredibly common. Thanks to a global pandemic, mental health issues are at an all-time high.

But somehow, mental health is still a taboo subject for many.

Historically, mental health disorders have been thought of as demonic possession or witchcraft. On a global scale, this caused talking about mental illness strictly off-limits.

This silence around something so common is fluctuating between that taboo and normalization.


Redditor beholdtheblackcat asked:

"Therapists, what is something people tell you that they are ashamed of but is actually normal?"

You may find that something you are worried about is on this list.

It's normal to feel relieved.

"Mixed or even positive feelings when a loved one dies after a protracted illness. Especially someone who hung on for a long time, very sick and suffering, or an older relative with dementia. There's often a feeling of relief, of 'at least that's over'. It's perfectly normal and it doesn't mean you didn't love the person."

- nezumipi

"My cousin recently passed from a lifetime of illness starting with a premature birth, then cancer, then an endless string of issues."

"I miss my cousin, but I'm glad she doesn't have to put up with it anymore.'

- unforgiven91

"No longer suffering is a big one, but I also think care giver burnout is a big part of that relief feeling."

"I think people often feel guilty because they're relieved that their caregiving role is over as well. Society likes to act like you should be the energizer bunny and happy to either finance a loved one's care or physically take on the task of caring for them. It's perfectly natural to feel burnt out, stressed, angry, trapped, etc... when you're in that situation. Feeling relief that it's over and your life can return to normal doesn't make you a bad person or in any way tarnish the very real sacrifices you made to care for your person."

- UpstairsDeer

"Yup. I've learned this personally and try to use it whenever dealing with someone else going through a loss. You experience a whole range of emotions when a loved one dies, and you should never let others tell you or even imply how you should be feeling. My mother died of cancer and of course I was very upset, angry, devastated, sad. But I also felt very relieved and almost happy it was over, because watching her decline towards the end, especially in the last few days when she was barely lucid, was absolutely terrible. And in the actual moment that she died, the strongest feelings I remember having were just how surreal and bizarre it was. I was ashamed of those feelings at first, but I came to realize I shouldn't be and they're completely normal."

"Death is very surreal, and we as humans are terrible with dealing with it. As societies, we often hide and suppress the realities of death. And at the same time, we romanticize it in a way. We're very prescriptive about how it should be and how people should feel about it, but death rarely looks like it does in the movies and it never really feels like it either."

- dakatabri

Even therapists feel this.

"I've had patients describe their impostor syndrome in great detail, and are genuinely surprised when I say everyone feels like that, myself included sometimes."

- like_literally119

"As another therapist with imposter syndrome, 100%."

- spacecirrina

"I'm sometimes afraid if I don't think I have imposter syndrome I'm just fooling myself and others."

- Mateorabi

"I never felt imposter syndrome until I started my new career last year."

"They actually sat us down to explain that at some point you will feel this way and to lean on your colleagues, managers and the employee mental health program for support."

"Sometimes it still doesn't feel like enough."

- Hey_HaveAGreatDay

"I work for a software development company as a support guy. I've been trying to skill up my coding to cross over and a few of the devs specifically mentioned imposter syndrome to me. They are both awesome devs and they both at one point felt like they shouldn't be doing what they are doing."

- domestic_omnom

It's okay not to know.

"That they do not know what they enjoy doing. Often they have people in their life, including therapists, say 'Try to do something fun today,' or ask, 'What do you like to do when you have free time?' Many people I work with do not know what those are. Once I explain that I dislike these statements/questions because they assume people should know the answer, and that many people don't, I can watch as they relax, take a deep breath, and say something to the effect of, 'Oh my, that's so good to hear. I have no idea what I like to do. That's part of the problem.'"

"More often than not they feel like they should know and that everyone else their age has it figured out. They are embarrassed to say that they don't know when in fact not knowing is very common. I couldn't even try to count how many clients I've had this conversation with."

- ljrand

"I'm not a therapist, but I mentor at risk youth and marginalized professionals (I'm a black woman myself, who also used to be an at risk youth), and I've encountered this quite a bit. I usually suggest to them what I did when I realized I had the same problem years ago: What did you enjoy doing as a child? What were your dreams as a child? Is there any reason you can't pursue one or both of them now as a hobby or even have that as a professional goal to work towards (if applicable)?"

"It usually helps, and suddenly they're like, 'Man, I always wanted to learn to play tennis...' and we find a free MeetUp for them to go to. Or they say that they used to like model cars, so they go grab a cheap set so they can try it out. It's always low-commitment so they can quit if they find they don't enjoy it anymore. The only way to find if you like it is to do it - often our busy schedules (or if you have it like I do, our depression/mental health issues) are gonna tell you it isn't worth it or that it's going to suck. To try that, give it a try on two or three occasions. If that doesn't work, try another thing you used to like! But the only way of finding that out is doing it"

"For me personally, it was that I used to love playing video games. So I went back and got some of the games I always wanted growing up, but couldn't because my family was poor. I had so much fun (and they're also cheaper now 😂)!!! Got me back into gaming again, and now I find "retro" consoles at thrift stores and buy them (I'm upset that the GameCube is considered retro now, but I digress haha), as well as new games. I'm also doing art again and starting a number of hobbies I wanted to do as a kid."

"We may grow up, but a lot of our sadness and u fulfillment comes from our inner child calling out to us. If you haven't had a great adult life, or childhood, or anything like that, you can be the parent your inner-child needs. Pick up some yarn for like $2 at the store - you can weave a blanket with a cardboard loom! Go get them that soap-making set they always wanted and just try it. You can even start with a cheap one! Or go get them a piece of candy they used to like. Go to the beach (by yourself if you want to!) and build a sandcastle. Take care of yourself. This life is supposed to be fun; Humans NEED some kind of happiness to live and keep going, and we don't have to wait until we retire, or even spend money to do that."

- iftheronahadntcome

​Your abuse should face consequences and it's okay to have mixed feelings.

"Feeling conflicted when a caregiver who abused them is exposed/faces consequences. Many express feeling bad for them because this person abused them but they also took care of them, provided for them, etc. I always try to tell them that what they're feeling is normal and understandable but that the abuser needs to face consequences for what they have done."

- SeaworthinessWide183

Intrusive thoughts are common.

"Having intrusive thoughts (thinking about steering into oncoming traffic is a popular one). Also, when they're talking about inner dialogue people fear I'd consider them psychotic."

"For those interested or struggling with intrusive thoughts I highly recommend The Imp of the Mind by L. Baer. It's well written and has some great exercises. Regarding inner negative dialogue Breaking Negative Thinking Patterns by Gitta Jacobs is generally considered to be a very practical self help book. They're no substitute for therapy obviously but I think both can benefit any reader."

- Conquestadore

Another therapist shared the same thing, so it must be incredibly common!

"Having really f*cked up thoughts. Intrusive violent or uncomfortable thoughts are very common, i.e. call of the void. For most they are a passing thing like 'oh that's weird,' but for some they get stuck and people judge themselves for them thinking there is something wrong with them."

"I want to encourage you all to reach out for help. There are treatments, both with and without psychopharmacology, but you need to find what works best for you with the help of professionals."

"I will share a mantra that has helped me throughout my life, both as a therapist and as someone with OCD."

"I am the observer of my thoughts, not the manifestation of them."

"I love you all and wish you all the very best!"

- WhatWouldMrRogersSay

Regretting having kids should be talked about more.

"They regret having kids or weren't instantly attached to their child when they were born. It's a lot more common than people think, but the subject is extremely taboo and is not often is discussed due to the shame and guilt that comes with it."

- Kevin-W

"I mentioned having these feelings in a supposedly 'safe space' once. I had no idea people could be so over-the-top mean and cruel in their replies. It was deeply traumatizing and I never mentioned it to anyone since."

- rubberman83

"A work colleague opened up to me about this last week, kind of out the blue. He told me he was jealous of me for not having kids nor wanting to have them."

"I truly didn't know what to say."

"The way he was talking about it, something tells me he might be going through some hard times these days and might not have someone to talk about it."

- Mr_Laheys_Drinkypoo

There are so many things that we don't talk about because it's taboo or we are afraid that we are alone in this. In reality, not talking about these things have actually made us more alone.

If there's something you're going through, talk to a therapist. It might be more common than you think.

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CW: Suicide

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