So we asked some Therapists/psychiatrists: What is something that most people think they are alone in experiencing/feeling/thinking? Here are their responses.
1-5 Things People Normally Experience
1. Seeing shadows, figures, or other things or hearing murmurs, voices, or similar, during the half-asleep-half-awake state are not schizophrenic hallucinations. It’s an in-between dream state and does not mean you have schizophrenia. It’s normal.
2. Sudden, unwelcome, sometimes even violent, thoughts that pop into your head are also normal and not indicative of psychopathology or sexual perversion. They’re intrusive thoughts and as long as you don’t think you’re going to act on them, there’s no reason to worry about them. The more you attend to them and perseverate on them, the more they’re going to bother you. Like the pink polka dot elephant.
Frankly, I am a generally well-adjusted individual who has never self-harmed a day in her life, with a comfortable life and no particular desire to die, but sometimes when I drive over a bridge, I think about what would happen if I were to drive over it. I do not want to hurt myself or anyone else involved, but I still wonder. Likewise, I do not want to kiss my boss. I’m straight and even if I weren’t, she’s not my type. But sometimes when we’re talking, I wonder what would happen if I kissed her.
3. Two things I’ve come across a lot:
· Not caring deeply for family members. Especially for their children. They expect this instinct to kick in at some point where they’ll feel fiercely protective, but it never happens.
· Feeling “imposter syndrome”, which is basically a feeling that you don’t belong somewhere (work or school), that you’re not capable, and soon everyone will figure out that you got there on a fluke and kick you out. For those of you that are in college/grad school and feel this way, see if your school offers free counseling services (many do). This could be useful not just for coping with imposter syndrome, but it can also be an opportunity to work on your stress management skills.
4. Teenagers who think they are “special” and “mature for their age”. It’s almost all of them. It is kind of funny, actually.
5. Feeling “crazy”. I would say the majority of my clients at some point ask if they are crazy. It’s sad that mental illness is seen as black and white, sane or crazy, and not a continuum that can ebb and flow over time. Patients who are “crazy”, i.e., psychotic will argue indignantly, vigorously and tirelessly that there is nothing wrong with them, that they are not crazy, that they do not need any kind of psychiatric help, etc. When, on the other hand, a person says that they feel like they are going crazy or they are worried that they might be crazy, 99% of the time, they are not crazy. That is not to say that such a person does not have a serious problem or does not need help, just that they are not “crazy” by psychiatric standards.
6-10 Things People Normally Experience
6. I think the most common thing I find in my practice is that people assume they need to “get rid of” their negative feelings. Anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt, these are normal feelings everyone experiences and its ok to feel these things and acknowledge them. Learning how to “sit” with negative feelings is something I think I’ve tried hard to normalize with my clients.
7. That everyone is looking at them and their decisions and judging them.
8. Intense anger towards, and even hatred for, people they are “supposed” to love (and do love much of the time).
9. CBT therapist here. The moment of disclosure, so to speak. “When will the others realize that I can’t figure sh*t out”. “When will they realize that I am utterly incompetent” etc. This is actually really common.
10. Common grief reactions. Most people think they are crazy when they can’t concentrate and have memory problems months into grief. This is very normal for a significant loss. Also feelings of guilt and relief in the case of long illnesses. Most people feel they could have/should have done more despite doing everything well and many feel guilt at the relief they feel at having a caregiver role come to an end. Also many people experiencing a loss continue to speak aloud or in their heads to the deceased person.