Psychologist is not helpful?
Hi, this is my first post so sorry if it seems a bit all over the place. I'm currently in my early 20s and have struggled with my mental health for years and years. Mental illness seems to run in the family (multiple members with schizophrenia and bipolar). Only recently (past 2 months) did i start seeing a psychologist because it always seemed like too much effort to organise it. I got a mental health care plan from my GP and I didn't get to choose my psychologist.
I feel like I go through pretty long periods of time where I either feel nothing or only negative emotions (agitated, anger, hostile). The only thing i tend to care about is doing well at uni. I have always struggled making friends and have had very few close ones. However the ones i do have, i also feel absolutely nothing towards in these periods. I feel as though i could completely cut them out of my life without any second thought. I even feel like I could be fired from my job and not care whatsoever. I haven't found joy in doing almost anything for years and lack any sexual desire. Going out to with friends feels like a chore. I don't even enjoy eating and only do so because there's bad health implications of lack of food and also because i feel physically sick if i don't.
For background, i had an emotionally abusive/neglectful up bringing but no longer live with my parents.
Other things i experience include finding it extremely hard to sleep and when i do, i can sleep for 12 hours every night and still be exhausted, and some days i find it almost impossible to concentrate. I also get agitated very easily if the area i live in is not kept clean.
I'm quite an analytical person so i can understand how I'm feeling without talking to others. To me it sounds like i may have symptoms of depression/anxiety/bipolar. I've voiced everything i feel to my psychologist and I've found him no help and i often leave more agitated then when i came. To me, my symptoms clearly show signs of potential mental illness yet my psychologist has never addressed them and of course i don't want to wrongly self diagnose. He's said i feel the way i do because of how i grew up, which i'm fully aware of and not why i'm going to him. I'm going to him so he can clarify/diagnose in order for me to understand what's going on and to fix it. He doesn't suggest ways to cope with what i feel. I find it quite annoying that after putting off going to see someone for so long that it hasn't helped whatsoever. What do i do?
I'm wondering whether your psychologist's ever met with someone who has such a naturally brilliant analytical mind and such a great level of self understanding. Do you think he just doesn't get a true sense of why you're there? Maybe what he sees is a fairly well balanced person where, in fact (please correct me if I'm wrong), you feel the scales beginning to tip significantly and perhaps want to know why they're tipping.
I've a friend who's desperate for a diagnosis regarding being on the autism spectrum. As he said to me 'It's not that I plan to live through that diagnosis or let it define me, I just want to know exactly what I'm working with so I can manage it in highly effective ways'. Do you feel an official diagnosis would be an ideal starting point for managing? What a lot of people don't get is that analytical people can be so incredibly practical about things, while experiencing significant challenges at the same time.
Myself, I'm a super analytical gal while being a major 'feeler' (aka highly sensitive). Wondering whether you're a bit the same to some degree. While a combo of analysis and sensitivity comes with great abilities it also comes with a heck of a lot of challenges that can make life feel like hell on earth at times, while you're working yourself out. Give you a basic example:
You can be in the psych's office explaining things quite logically to him. You could say 'I get a sense that I may be experiencing this...'. So that's the analytical side of things. On the feeling side of things, he may respond with 'It's perfectly understandable why you believe this but let's not jump to conclusions'. Did you feel that? That is the feeling of 'being shut down'. Cue a rise in you as well as the challenge of not being a people pleaser, which can be a tough one to feel your way through. With pure analysis through questioning (emotional detachment), 'Dude, why are you in such a hurry to shut the possibility down? I'll give you a chance to explain before I consider employing someone else for this job, someone who can satisfy me with a reasonable explanation'. Being analytical, I imagine you're also reasonable (someone who seeks/gives valid reasons).
Can you sense whether your psych is open minded or a closed minded 'by the book' kind of guy? Are you looking for someone who has more of a natural feel for possibility, people and situations? Are you looking for someone who's more inclined to wonder with you about certain possibilities?
He’s mentioned a few times that he thinks I deal with everything really well. In my last session he said he thinks I’ve improved significantly in the short time I’ve been seeing him. I think it’s because objectively I do well at uni/have a job and am good with my money/very independent/deal with conflict well. Thing is I feel exactly the same as before I saw him.
I’m not sure if he thinks I’m there just to talk to someone? But I really don’t feel the need unless they’re going to actively suggest ways to improve which he hasn’t done. You’re correct in saying I want an official diagnosis because then I know how to manage it well and not because I’d want to let it define me. Without it I just feel more confused because it’s almost like he’s saying everything I feel is normal? I really don’t find talking about my week with him any use however I’m not sure if he thinks that’s what I want? I thought about telling him in my next session that I feel no improvement whatsoever and what I feel my symptoms are leaning towards.
He tends to try to explain I feel a certain way because of my upbringing but I really don’t need someone telling me that because I’ve figured that out for myself a long time ago. He doesn’t seem to address that upbringing/environment you grew up in can lead to mental illness, particularly if there’s genetic precursor. I’m more trying to deal with the repercussions it’s left on my mental health, not find an explanation for what initially caused it, if that makes sense.
I can’t really tell if he’s open minded or not because he never really has an adequate response when I tell him my issues, for example, when I tell him I feel no emotions whatsoever unless it’s negative, he says nothing. He also has never prompted questions regarding how I feel long term which may lead him to understand why I’m there.
I’d say I’m looking for someone who is also analytical. Someone who notices symptoms of mental illness and wants a diagnosis so an appropriate treatment plan can be put into place. More like a “here’s the problem and here’s the solution” type of person. I’m definitely not looking for someone to talk about my issues throughout the week.
Wellcome to our forums!
Well done for seeing a psychologist sorry your psychologist hasn’t been helpful for you…..
a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist would be able to diagnose you and offer medication if needed.
A normal psychologist can’t do the above..
I understand anxiety I was diagnosed with severe anxiety OCD by a psychiatrist I also saw a clinical psychologist. I have now recovered from this condition thanks to professional help.
Please go back to your gp and let them know the psychologist you are seeing isn’t very helpful for you and ask for a referral for a clinical psychologist.
here to chat
Definitely disappointing when you go and see someone for guidance and end up facing someone who's seemingly up for a chat to see where you're at. I wish professionals were more open when it comes to what's going through their head. Whether he's getting a feel for where you're at (getting to know you better), through basic conversation, or perhaps looking to simply help you maintain a basically functional life, at the end of the day you're looking for more on a whole variety of levels, questioning perhaps
- How much of what I experience is nature and how much is nurture?
- What skills do I need, that I wasn't given, in order to navigate life? Handy for covering territory you've never come across before
- What does balance look like and how do I obtain it?
- Why does my perspective/reality appear the way it does? This might even include questioning why it it appears to shift at times. Personally, I find reality/perspective shifts to be pretty challenging. When perspective suddenly changes for no seemingly obvious reason, it can take a long time to eventually find the reason on your own. For example, why the intense downshift where everything suddenly appears/feels negative?
I left depression behind me some time ago and therefor have had some time to analyse myself and life. There have been a poop load of questions over the years and I imagine I'll continue to ask questions of myself until my last breath. From 'How do I tick biologically?', including chemistry, genetics and environmental influences, to 'How do I tick mentally?', including the thought processing I inherited, right through to 'How do I tick naturally?' That last one's an interesting one based on a whole lot of factors.
I find it's always interesting to wonder about the natural aspect of self. While detachment is a perfectly natural aspect of human nature and incredibly healthy and helpful at times (giving us the ability to analyse without emotion getting in the way), it definitely doesn't feel natural when we're in detachment mode and are desperate to switch it off. Kinda like 'I can't switch off detachment mode and it's destroying my life to some degree'. Would it be right to say you not only want to switch it off, you also want to learn how to master the switch (choose when you want it on or off)? Maybe this is something you could mention to your psych, something like 'I want to be able to master and manage detachment by choice. At the moment it feels like I don't have a choice'.
Sorry to hear that about how you're feeling. It certainly sounds disappointing when the person whom you had hoped to be able to help you, only ends up frustrating you more. There's no obligation on staying with the same psychologist, and you're always free to look around for another psychologist whom they may be able to connect with you better.
I feel on the outside, you certainly seem to be doing well (i.e having a job/doing well at uni/good with money/can deal with conflict). You've done really well reaching this far by yourself, and even though you've been through an emotionally abusive/neglectful up bringing, you were able to get to this point in life, and that's something worth looking up to.
On the inside, I'm curious to know and understand a bit more. When you mention that you feel you could be fired from your job and not care, that you could cut out your friends and care about them as well, and the feeling of not being able to find joy in doing almost anything for years. Do you feel like..
- I'm not deserving of anything good that happens to me?
- Socializing is tiring, and you'd rather invest time on things that matters to you more?
- My opinions don't matter, because at the end of the day, it gets overshadowed by other people's voices. So why do I even bother with friends?
And, if you don't mind me asking, what is it that you don't like about eating? Just seeking some understanding on how you're feeling. If none of those questions apply to you, would it be alright for you to talk about why you're feeling that way? There's no need to reply to my questions if you don't feel like it, and I'm more than happy to listen to anything else that you'd like to share.
Thanks for replying! The only thing keeping me at my current psychologist is that he’s 100% covered by Medicare. To answer your questions
- no, I actually think I do deserve good things. I do feel as though I’ve worked extremely hard to be where I am and in no way would reject any type of good outcome. (Unless that “good outcome” is a gift in which I would feel in debt to the person giving it).
- I find socialising very tiring (unless I see my boyfriend) and feel like i have to really force the conversation. I find it extremely hard to feel comfortable around people and enjoy being alone because there’s no expectations. Because I don’t feel comfortable around people, I also don’t talk much and get caught in a cycle of feeling like people are judging me and don’t like me because I don’t talk, but I can’t change it because I’m very uncomfortable. However I do like occasionally enjoy going out to nightclubs ect with mutual friends because I don’t have to actually put effort into talking to people as they’re drunk and there’s no need for small talk. This problem further extends to my boyfriends family. They essentially think I don’t like them but I do and just genuinely don’t know how to talk to them. I really wish I could but I get extremely uncomfortable and completely forget how to have a conversation around them. I also hate texting people and find it extremely pointless and draining. But going back to being able to cut off my friends, I think it because I don’t feel any real connection to them? But the question this leaves me with is, have I just not found “my people” or do I just have an inability to feel emotional connection towards people in general?
- no, I don’t think my opinions get overshadowed by friends. However, I would say that something I’ve noticed is I’m a lot quieter around extroverted people and I’m a lot more outgoing around less extroverted people. But either way I tend to not enjoy company much.
I just find eating boring I guess. It’s not because of the type of food I’m eating, it’s just the act of eating that I find a bit eh.
I feel like I lack emotional connection towards most things. For example, I think the reason I don’t care if I got fired is because I can just get another job so it’s not a big deal. Or if I lose my friends I don’t care because I don’t feel close to them anyway? Almost like nothing is a great loss to me because I didn’t care much initially I suppose.
Thank you for your reply.
I understand your staying with your current psychologist because he’s 100 percent covered by Medicare but if he’s not helping you to move forward then I think you should try to see a different psychologist or clinical psychologist…… how would you feel about going back to your gp and asking for a referral to a clinical psychologist? You may be able to find one who s also covered……… When you do a mental health plan the first 10 sessions are usually free with a phycologist………
I really think it would be helpful for you to see a different psychologist and if you would like a diagnosis a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist….
im here to chat
Thank you for clarifying, I really appreciate it and can resonate with majority of your points (especially since I'm an Introvert, and my MBTI test result helped me understand my general nature a bit more). Especially about, feeling like I have to really force conversations, and becoming a lot quieter around extroverted people, and more outgoing when there are less extroverted people around me.
Silence in a social setting is a really awkward thing to me, and I learned that it's because my mind goes into over-drive to feel what others are feeling, trying to catch out whether they are judging my quiet nature, and I should force a conversation to steer their attention away from me. Though, after understanding my general nature a bit more thru the MBTI test, I'm starting to get used to silence in a social setting; learning that it's okay to embrace the silence, and that others are probably too busy thinking about far more important matters, and judging me would be the lowest in their priority. If they do judge me, they are entitled to their thoughts, and I am who I am. The key was to be comfortable with myself. I can also agree with the "have not found my people", a social group that you're comfortable being in, it could be worth exploring groups that share common interests with you to see if you can make a connection with them.
Emotional connection will require openness and comfortable of being vulnerable in front of people; comfortable expressing your feelings and emotions, and understanding that this may involve hurting others, as well as getting hurt. It is in this process that, we can filter out the friends and people who can really make a connection with you, because you're both comfortable being open and vulnerable with each other.
When you mention that you're a lot quieter around extroverted people, do you feel it might be because, you prefer someone else to steer and drive the conversation, while you conserve your energy? You appreciate deep meaningful conversation more than small talks?
Happy to listen to you more 🙂
I feel that extremely extroverted people are just overpowering. I used to have a close friend who enjoyed all the attention on them and they got jealous if it wasn’t. While they can be “fun” to be around, it was exhausting. Around this person I was always a lot quieter because it’s like they were compensating for both of us. I’d say I actually prefer being around people who are on a similar level of “out going” to me. I feel like we can both then express ourselves without either of us feeling overpowered. Even in a group setting, when I was with this very extroverted friend, others would notice how much quieter I was opposed to when I was without them.
I agree that feeling comfortable with yourself is most important. I’d say I’m definitely comfortable with myself and never pretend to be something that I’m not, so often don’t get the reaction they expect from me? For example, if they were telling someone else something, they may have a huge reaction where as I just say “oh okay really?” cause I don’t particularly care or think it’s a big deal? When I say I feel like I really have to force conversations, I feel like I have put a lot of energy into responding in a way that makes me sound interested and them feel validated.
I definitely agree that finding a group with similar interests would help, however it’s not as easy as it sounds. Throughout my degree I haven’t found a single person I “click” with regardless of studying the same thing? I don’t really know where you’re supposed to find friends once you’ve left school.