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  • Maeve Waite

    Maeve Waite

    24 year old work psychologist, mental health advocate and future dachshund owner. occasional writer, baker and photo taker. posts have been featured on time to change and mental movement magazine, and I sometimes like to write all lower case.
    London, UK

    I can't be your therapist.


    This is one of those 10pm vents, so sorry if it comes out a bit unorganised. I've been open about my struggles with my mental health for a little while now, and I've always tried to be one of those people who listens and tries to understand without judgement when others are going through something too.

    I'm passionate about fighting stigma against mental health, and I'll always encourage people to talk about it and share their experiences if they want to.

    I never want anyone else to be in the same position I was when I first started struggling - alone, confused, and scared. It's a horrible feeling, and particularly if you struggle with depression and/or anxiety, your brain has probably convinced you of any/all of the following:

    • no one else cares
    • you'll only worry someone
    • people will judge/hate you for it
    • you'll be seen as 'ill' and treated differently

    It's isolating, and that's the way these illnesses work: to cut you off from all your resources - and that's one of the hardest parts of recovery; ignoring these thoughts and opening up.

    I've been lucky and even flattered that over the years, a lot of people have felt comfortable enough to open up to me and be able to talk about what's bothering them. I'm glad I can be a listening ear when they need it, particularly if they feel they can't talk to anyone else.

    Unfortunately, I've also had people over the years who have 100% taken advantage of my help, and perhaps to an extent, I've let them, whilst dealing with my own issues. I've had a lot of people want my advice or me to listen, but absolutely don't want to return the favour. I've had people shoot me when I'm down and then suddenly come back around when they want something. It feels like crap.

    I've felt used and hurt, and ultimately, like I couldn't really trust anyone. It's only then intensified those isolating thoughts my illness tells me - that people don't really give a damn. I know this isn't true for most of the people around me, but for the odd few, it is. I've worked hard on this, and so I've distanced myself or cut them out. It's draining and it's painful, but the negative effect on my own mental health is not worth it for someone who doesn't care, or who is actively using/making things harder for me.

    So, even if this goes against everything I've been taught, and even if my brain is telling me how selfish I am and how unkind this is, and what a bad person I am, I'm sticking to it - I cannot be anyone's therapist anymore.

    This does not mean I do not care. It just means I can't fix things for people. I can listen and try to understand and signpost, but I cannot take it away for good. Working in mental health has taught me a lot over the years and maybe this is why people feel more comfortable coming to me (?), but I am still not a trained therapist. All I can do is try to point people in the right direction, and then, it's up to them to work. I'll still support, and listen, but that's all I can do.

    The reason why I'm taking this new stance is because of the above. Because too many people have taken advantage of my help, and frankly, because I need to focus on my own recovery - particularly now, after some big changes in my life. Whilst I love what I do and I love that I'm involved in mental health, sometimes it all just gets too overwhelming.

    I don't think we should ever expect someone untrained to take on board all our issues because you still don't know what they're going through. I absolutely don't think you should unload on someone unless you'd be prepared to do the same if the situation was reversed. But that's just my opinion.

    I don't really know how to end this except to reiterate again - I do care, I just need to look after myself too. If I can't help myself, I can't help anyone with anything! We are allowed to be a little selfish sometimes!

    M x

    This is one of those 10pm vents, so sorry if it comes out a bit unorganised. I've been open about my struggles with my mental health for a little while now, and I've always tried to be one of those people who listens and tries to understand without judgement when others are going through something too.

    I'm passionate about fighting stigma against mental health, and I'll always encourage people to talk about it and share their experiences if they want to.

    I never want anyone else to be in the same position I was when I first started struggling - alone, confused, and scared. It's a horrible feeling, and particularly if you struggle with depression and/or anxiety, your brain has probably convinced you of any/all of the following:

    • no one else cares
    • you'll only worry someone
    • people will judge/hate you for it
    • you'll be seen as 'ill' and treated differently

    It's isolating, and that's the way these illnesses work: to cut you off from all your resources - and that's one of the hardest parts of recovery; ignoring these thoughts and opening up.

    I've been lucky and even flattered that over the years, a lot of people have felt comfortable enough to open up to me and be able to talk about what's bothering them. I'm glad I can be a listening ear when they need it, particularly if they feel they can't talk to anyone else.

    Unfortunately, I've also had people over the years who have 100% taken advantage of my help, and perhaps to an extent, I've let them, whilst dealing with my own issues. I've had a lot of people want my advice or me to listen, but absolutely don't want to return the favour. I've had people shoot me when I'm down and then suddenly come back around when they want something. It feels like crap.

    I've felt used and hurt, and ultimately, like I couldn't really trust anyone. It's only then intensified those isolating thoughts my illness tells me - that people don't really give a damn. I know this isn't true for most of the people around me, but for the odd few, it is. I've worked hard on this, and so I've distanced myself or cut them out. It's draining and it's painful, but the negative effect on my own mental health is not worth it for someone who doesn't care, or who is actively using/making things harder for me.

    So, even if this goes against everything I've been taught, and even if my brain is telling me how selfish I am and how unkind this is, and what a bad person I am, I'm sticking to it - I cannot be anyone's therapist anymore.

    This does not mean I do not care. It just means I can't fix things for people. I can listen and try to understand and signpost, but I cannot take it away for good. Working in mental health has taught me a lot over the years and maybe this is why people feel more comfortable coming to me (?), but I am still not a trained therapist. All I can do is try to point people in the right direction, and then, it's up to them to work. I'll still support, and listen, but that's all I can do.

    The reason why I'm taking this new stance is because of the above. Because too many people have taken advantage of my help, and frankly, because I need to focus on my own recovery - particularly now, after some big changes in my life. Whilst I love what I do and I love that I'm involved in mental health, sometimes it all just gets too overwhelming.

    I don't think we should ever expect someone untrained to take on board all our issues because you still don't know what they're going through. I absolutely don't think you should unload on someone unless you'd be prepared to do the same if the situation was reversed. But that's just my opinion.

    I don't really know how to end this except to reiterate again - I do care, I just need to look after myself too. If I can't help myself, I can't help anyone with anything! We are allowed to be a little selfish sometimes!

    M x
    . Tuesday, 21 August 2018 .

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