Intrusive Thoughts, Regretting Having Children, And 19 More Feelings Therapists Say You Shouldn't Be Ashamed Of Having
"Often they have people in their life ask, 'What do you like to do when you have free time?' Many people I work with do not know what those are."
Note: This article discusses topics related to abuse, depression, and mental health, which may be hard to read.
Here are some of the most thoughtful answers:
1. "Intrusive thoughts. People often say that they have really unpleasant and sometimes violent intrusive thoughts. This is actually a lot more common than people think. It usually does not mean that you are violent, or disturbed."
2. "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."
3. "I think when people admit that they sometimes make things up, and they're not sure why. Sometimes this spirals into stories they have to 'keep up.' Especially teenagers, often in the context of talking about negative mental health. Then, parents 'catch them being happy' and they feel they must feel down to 'keep up appearances.' This is quite sad because then the low mood becomes reality, but the person is totally convinced they're faking it, when they are actually feeling quite low."
4. "Thinking about running away from home. It's a common fantasy to have as a teenager."
6. "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."
7. "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."
8. "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 discussed due to the shame and the guilt that comes with it."
9. "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."
10. "When you're recovering from an addiction, it's nothing to be ashamed of if you lapse or relapse. It's a part of quitting. It doesn't mean you've failed, and it doesn't mean it's hopeless to try again."
12. "Improving their life when people around them are still not doing well. It’s easy for people to feel ashamed or guilty when they start making positive changes but see their friends and family not doing the same."
13. "I've gotten a lot of clients complaining about how their friends and acquaintances have 'passed them by' in terms of career, romantic relationships, etc. The reality is, a lot of people feel that way but also can become successful at any point."
14. "Being angry at loved ones. This is largely bound in the social idea that somehow anger is an unnecessary, bad emotion. I get A LOT of people who feel like they’re a bad person for being angry with friends or family, so they just try to hide it."
15. "Most of my experience is with married couples. Almost everyone is ashamed of fighting, but everyone fights. In fact, conflict can be very healthy for a relationship provided that both people know how to process emotions and work towards resolutions."
"Btw, dealing with conflict, particularly in a relationship, is a skill that can be learned. Nobody is just born knowing how to deal with this stuff. Take the time to learn these skills and your life and relationships will be much healthier."
16. "In the last year or so I’ve noticed a lot of people 'admitting' that they’re not 'productive' with their free time. They say things like, 'I should be cleaning, exercising, taking a second job, or doing some kind of income-producing hobby' during their free time. They’re ashamed that they watch Netflix or take naps. I blame all the hustle culture, lately. IT’S OK TO WATCH NETFLIX WITH YOUR FREE TIME."
17. "That being a caregiver/parent is very challenging and that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes and seek respite if needed. People will often express guilt about feeling this way about their loved one, but the reality is that caregivers need to care for themselves too due to the high risk of burnout."
19. "Feeling lonely and having only a few friends. Social media gives us this skewed perception that a lot of people have tons of friends and are always doing stuff. That’s not real life though, and everyone feels lonely sometimes; everyone goes through phases where they feel like they have no one, or goes through friend breakups."
20. "Not sleeping in the same bed with their partner. So many couples (especially older ones) think they’re doing their relationship a huge disservice by having separate sleeping spaces. I frequently have to tell couples that while this isn’t a 'normal' thing in the traditional sense, it is a very common thing, and one that continues to become more common."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.