May is Mental Health Awareness Month—and if you don’t already have a therapist, this past year might have gotten you thinking it’s time to make an appointment. You might be suffering from depression or anxiety or feeling overwhelmed with work or childcare.
But maybe you feel like your problems are too weird for a therapist. Well guess what? Basically nothing is too weird for a therapist because their job is help people be healthier, and sometimes you have to wade through some weird stuff to get there.
On Reddit, therapists are sharing things they’ve heard so many times before but that people worry is particularly weird to only them.
You aren’t alone!
“I’d say a common one is believing that there’s something innately, irreparably wrong with them that makes them unable to ever truly ‘fit in.’ For a lot of people it’s such a deeply ingrained belief that it can be extremely painful to acknowledge or express, regardless of the level of personal success in their lives.” — GuidedBySteven
“Two topics come up with regularity: when someone discloses to me that they were sexually abused as a kid, and/or when some is experiencing suicidal ideation. Both are something I hear from clients every single day, and so I don’t find it weird at all. But, when I have someone in front of me who’s talking about it for the first time, I know it’s important to validate the fact that even though I might be talking about this for like the fifth time that day, they have never talked about this EVER, and are in need of gentle care to feel safe.” — HighKeyHotMess
“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 then 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
“The amount of people I see who feel like they should be grieving a ‘certain way’ and are afraid that they ‘must not have loved someone,’ or, ‘must not have cared.’ People grieve in all sorts of ways. The ‘5 stages of grief’ are bulls**t.” — sredac
“A common one in the time I was a therapist was simply ‘I don’t know.’ You’d be surprised how reluctant people are to admit that they don’t know why they’re feeling how they are. But that’s exactly why you’re (or were, I’m not a therapist any more) sat there with me; so we can figure out why together.” — kutuup1989
“Psychologist here. Basically, anything having to do with sex. There’s so much shame. Sexual abuse. Sexual fantasies and fetishes. Erectile dysfunction. Infidelity. Becoming sexually assertive. I’ve been told that I have a good ‘psychologist’s face.’ I try not to have a strong reaction to normalize the discussion. With adolescents, they are extremely anxious to tell me if they’ve relapsed or aren’t doing well. They cut one night or they were suicidal. They’re having a lot of negative self-talk or panic attacks. They’ll come in, pretending everything is okay. It’s usually in the last 10-15 minutes that they’ll say something. They’ll reveal that they worried they’d let me down. That I’d be disappointed in them. It usually turns into a discussion about policing other people’s feelings and tolerating emotions. I explain that I care about their well-being and it’s my job to monitor my emotions and reactions, not their role.” — MyDogCanSploot
“Unwanted intrusive thoughts are normal and do not mean you are a bad person (yes, even intrusions of sexual/religious/moral themes). By definition, these are thoughts that are unwanted bc they go against your own values and highlight what you don’t want to do (eg, a religious person having unwanted blasphemous images pop into their mind, or a new parent having unwanted sexual thoughts about their new baby). However normal these thoughts are (over 90% of the population), the moral nature of these thoughts mean that often people experience a lot of shame and take many years before they first tell someone about them. The occurrence of these thoughts/images/urges are normal. The best way to ‘manage’ them is to accept that they are a normal (albeit unpleasant) brain process, and a sign of the opposite of who you are and are therefore v.v.unlikely to ever do. Let the thought run its course in the background while you bring your attention back to (insert something you can see/feel/hear/taste/touch). I usually say something like ‘ok mind! Thanks for that mind! I’m going to get back to washing the dishes and the sound/sensation of the water while you ponder all the nasties. Carry on!’ I literally say it to myself with a slightly amused tone bc I am always genuinely amused at all the wild stuff my brain can produce!” — cbearg
“Clients become quite fearful of admitting that they weren’t successful since the last time they had a session. This could include not succeeding in using a coping skill that they’re learning about, or not being able to complete a homework assignment I gave them. Humans aren’t robots, and therapy is a lot of work. That being said, I don’t expect people to be perfect as they start to work on themselves in a positive way. It takes time to really commit to change, especially in relation to trauma or conflicted views that an individual holds. I feel as if the client doesn’t want to let me down as their therapist, but these ‘failure’ events are just as important to talk about as successful moments!” — DnDYetti
“That they don’t like their family members, are angry/want to stop communication with their parents etc. I work in a country which Is more culturally collectivist, so not wanting anything to do with your parents makes you an asshole in the current cultural sense. We deal with this almost on a daily basis. There is deep and profound shame in this and when we find that line of ‘oh, it might be that your parents are toxic to your mental well being/trigger your trauma’ many of my clients actually get visibly angry with me.” — leonilaa
“Hidden sexual dreams and fantasies about family members. More common than people think, and often stays that way and doesn’t really interfere in the person’s close relationships unless they allow it. Many things we dream or think are unconscious and involuntary, and the root of such things is often nonsensical.” — Honey_Snack_9299
“Women often feel really ashamed when they tell me they are burnt out on being a parent or that they never want to have kids. I wish all of them knew how common this thought is.” — trick_deck
“Psychologist in the US. To name a few: ‘compulsive’ masturbation, fears of being a pedophile/rapist (this is a common OCD fear), hoarding, sexual performance difficulties, history of sexual abuse or sexual assault (unfortunately it is VERY common), drug use, amount of money spent on various things, having an ASD diagnosis, going back to an abusive relationship / staying in an abusive relationship, grieving years and years after a loss, self-harm of all sorts, wanting to abandon their current lifestyle (for example, to have more sex, to escape responsibility or expectations), history of gang violence / crime, their sexuality (or asexuality), gender identity, the impact of racism / racial trauma, paranoia, hallucinations, feeling uncomfortable in therapy, not believing in therapy, difficulty trusting a therapist, fear of psychiatric medication, fear of doctors in general.” — ImmaPsychoLogist
“Hyper sexuality after some sort of sexual trauma.” — lilbagotie24
“Some of the most common ones have been visual and/or auditory hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. I usually hear ‘I don’t want to be put in the hospital’ or ‘I don’t want you to think I’m crazy.’ Also, basically anything sexual. I’m not going to judge you for being into BDSM, fetishes, etc. Honestly, I’ve probably heard it before and I’m not here to judge you. Same goes with any non-consensual experiences (especially if we’re working through trauma).” — KDay5161
“I work with a lot of anxiety and trauma clients Whenever I ask if they would describe their experience as being anxious about being anxious, I get a lot of ‘omg, yessss.’ Anxiety has such a physical impact in the body (heart pounding, trouble breathing, feeling faint or cold, tunnel vision) that we become aware of our body’s reaction before we even notice the anxious thoughts triggering the reaction. Then we panic about why our bodies are flipping out when we’re not even aware of feeling threatened, and the anxiety compounds on itself. Anxiety is like an alarm system in our bodies to signal the presence of (real or perceived) danger. What would you do if your alarm was going off at your house? Check to see if there’s a real threat (scan your environment/situation to ground yourself in the present), turn off the alarm (breathing exercises do help, along with mindfulness techniques like body scans), and then investigate what tripped the alarm (process thoughts around the situation that read like danger to you). It’s also important to note that danger doesn’t need to be a gun getting pulled on you. Panicking during a presentation that could impact your job and threaten the way you pay your bills and afford your life can feel pretty dangerous if you think about it.” — pomp_le_mousse
“OCD gets misunderstood a lot. It’s not just having a clean house or liking things to be organized. Common intrusive thoughts can include violent thoughts of harming children and other loved ones, intrusive thoughts of molesting children, fear of being a serial killer etc. My clients can feel a lot of shame when discussing the thoughts or worry I will hospitalize them.” — darkblue15
“I do a lot of trauma work. Many people who have experienced molestation or sexual assault feel ashamed and confused because their bodies responded. Having an erection/lubrication or even an orgasm does not mean you wanted the sexual contact and it is still assault. Clients often hold a lot of shame and confusion about this. They wonder if it means they wanted it or if there is something wrong with them. It is a tough thing to work through because of this. Assault is assault. Sometimes human bodies respond to sexual touch even when we don’t want that touch.” — roomforathousand
“As someone in the substance abuse field I know that it’s difficult for clients to tell me they got high with a parent but it’s something I get told fairly regularly. It’s kinda sad.” — mkthompson
“That they ‘hear voices.’ I’ve found that a lot of people aren’t familiar with their own internal dialogue or ‘self talk’ and that this is typically ‘normal’ internal processing. A lot of people think that they are ‘hearing voices’ and hallucinating. There are some pretty simple questions we can ask to determine if it’s hallucinating or just internal dialogue, and most often it’s the latter.” — whatever-lola-wants
“I work in an older adults service for people with dementia and mental health problems. I see a lot of family members/Carers feeling ashamed of the fact that they are finding it incredibly difficult to care for someone that has dementia or a chronic mental health problem. Carer burnout is a real issue and people need to know that it’s not easy to see someone you love struggling every day, or slowly fading away month by month. Carers and family members desperately need time for themselves and need to know that it’s okay to feel the way that they do. No one is superhuman and we all have our own needs. It’s why we have therapy groups for Carers. It’s okay to struggle to look after someone and you should in no way feel ashamed of having those feelings.” — aron24carat
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