If you find it hard to talk about your feelings then you might feel therapy would be a pointless exercise. But it really isn’t! In episode 274, I received a question from a listener in this position who feels incapable of talking about their feelings and so is looking to take up medical help but skip the therapy. In this post, I discuss the importance of seeking professional help and why you should still give therapy a chance even if you feel you can’t discuss how you feel.
Hope you do well. Well, I am a 28 years old woman, and I think I have depression. I took some online depression tests and the results said that I may have a severe depression. I feel sad most of the time, cry every day en route to work, I feel exhausted but because of my perfectionism I continue my routines, of course with no enthusiasm anymore. I have always been against the notion of suicide, but lately I began to think about it and that scared the hell out of me. I am actually aware of my problems, the reasons I feel depressed and stressed are very obvious to me. I even know the ways that I can make myself feel better and I have tried them all but there was no progress. I have been thinking to go to a therapist, but the problem is that I can’t talk to anybody about my feelings. Not even to my fiance, it is not because he or others don’t understand. Actually, I know that they would be very supportive, the problem is me. I am incapable of talking, I can’t express myself without feeling shit afterwards. I keep blaming myself why did you talk, or why did you cry and…
I told you all these to ask you what should I do? can I just go to a doctor for medical help, not the talking part? I just need these awful feelings to go away…
Thanks in advance, love your podcast.
First off thank you for writing in and I’m sorry that you are feeling so poorly. Obviously, online tests are not a great place to get an accurate picture of your mental health symptoms, but they are a good starting place at times. Given what you wrote that you feel sad most of the time, cry every day, feel no enthusiasm, and have fleeting thoughts of suicide, I think it’s definitely worth paying attention to. I’m not going to say that you have major depressive disorder because I don’t know that without more context. For instance, you mentioned that you cry every day on the way to work. If you are in a situation where work is causing you serious emotional distress and pain, but you can’t find a way to get out of the job – that would bring about depression symptoms, but for a very justified reactionary reason. That’s different from a chronic mental health condition. They are both valid, but different.
You also said that the reasons you feel depressed and stressed are obvious to you. That’s a good thing. I love your level of self-awareness and it’s something that isn’t necessarily easy to deal with, but it can be nice to have a target and a clear reason for feeling how you do rather than this vague sense of grossness that doesn’t make any sense within the context of your life. However, if you are saying that you understand why you are depressed and you know the ways that you can make yourself feel better but they aren’t working, that means you probably need some professional help and/or a significant life change.
Let’s talk therapy
Let me talk about therapy first. It sounds like you want my permission to go ahead and see a therapist, so you have my permission. I think it’s a great idea. Your fears about therapy are common and understandable. Let me put it this way. Just because you can’t see how it would work does not mean that it won’t work. There are probably a lot of other professionals that you have seen for what seem to be tough situations and you can’t quite imagine how they are going to solve it for you or figure things out, but since they are a professional, you talk to them and they are able to reassure you that they can handle it. Next thing you know, your problem is solved. Therapy can be like that. Just because it feels to you like it would be useless to go does not mean that it would be useless to go. Therapists are used to working with people in a situation like yours. We are patient and we are able to draw out your own motivation. The magic doesn’t all happen in session #1. It’s a process and by committing to it and showing up, you will make gradual progress with some serious breakthroughs as you go along.
Therapy is the exact place to work on something like being unable to talk about your feelings. I know it sounds ironic, but there is nobody better equipped to help you work on that. You also may be surprised by how different it is than your other experiences with trying to talk about your feelings. The context and therapeutic relationship are different. I can’t tell you how many people I have seen who are like “Oh I just don’t talk about this stuff” or “I want to start with easier things and not jump into talking about my mom” and then BAM after getting a little acquainted, they jump straight into it like badasses. When speaking to your fiance, friends, or family, there are a lot of factors to consider. You are trying to manage their feelings and their perceptions of you while you speak. That can make it really difficult to be raw and honest. With a therapist, you don’t have to worry about burdening them or the implications on your relationship, because that is literally what you are paying them for. So, I think this would be a great option for you.
Medication, physical contributors, and therapy
Of course, you can also talk to your doctors about medication options and also evaluate whether there may be any physiological contributors to your situation. This is a good reminder for everyone to zoom out and think about the other factors and possible contributors to your mental health issues. Are you sleeping? Do you eat appropriately? Do you have any chronic conditions like thyroid problems, autoimmune diseases, or hormonal issues that can cause depressive symptoms as well? It’s easy to fall out of the habit of getting checked out “just in case” by your doctor. Especially if you are doing well, it’s normal to focus less on preventative care. However, if you DO struggle with something like depression as you are describing here, it’s absolutely worth it to go have some blood work done and get a general exam to see if there are any physical contributors.
When it comes to medication options, there are a ton and in some cases they are necessary to get the ball rolling. I’ve certainly seen people that needed to utilize medication to bring them to a level that they could even possibly benefit from therapy or their own self-help efforts. To me, that’s not what you sound like though. No shame against medication at all, but that sounds like putting the cart before the horse in your case. I want to encourage you to give therapy a shot and let the person know upfront that you have a hard time talking about things. Let them know that you always feel dumb for crying and for talking about your issues. That’s all you have to do. Then you just show up. I feel strongly that you would benefit quickly from therapy because you have a lot of strengths including your self-awareness, your desire to make a change in your life, your desire to stay alive, and your inkling that maybe you should try therapy.
So let’s get you into some therapy. If you are in the US, I have a great post to get you started at duffthepsych.com/findatherapist.
You can listen to this on Episode 274 of the podcast!
Thank you for the great question!
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