My name’s Tom and I’m a fully qualified and accredited CBT Therapist and Founder of Holland-Pearse Psychotherapy.
I’ve been working with clients for over 7 years and have been reflecting a lot on the kinds of things that people say to me.
With permission, I have begun collating the top things people share before, during, and after their therapy, and I wanted to share these with you in case there was something useful that you needed to hear today.
The conclusion: Men always leave it too late. For whatever reason. It’s a story I see repeated time and time again, and my mission is to make sure men can feel heard, supported, and prepared much sooner.
The results of this blog speak for themselves. Take a few minutes to see what you think and I’ll await any questions you may have.
What are your regrets for not finding a therapist sooner?
Things got out of hand – and sometimes they were irreparable by the end. I let things be bad for too long and now they cannot be fixed.
I have let mental health define me in the eyes of others for longer than I should have, and now they only see me as that.
I was not able to be there for others at critical times in their life because of my own mental health, and I feel I have let them down.
I have made terrible decisions at the times I was suffering the most, and I am still seeing the consequences of these nearly a year on.
I had to cut friends out as I was too low to see them and this has affected how close I feel to them.
On reflection, what would you have done differently if you could?
Learn the skills to notice when I struggling sooner – to be on the lookout for my red flags well in advance of things getting too much
Spoken up to those around me: friends/ partners/ family/ colleagues and stated clearly how I was feeling to them, thus raising awareness and their understanding of my position
Given myself permission to step back from the many problems or stressful factors I was dealing with at that moment .
Learned to let go of the feelings of failure or disappointing others to enable this transition to be much smoother .
Facilitated the progressive stepping back in an orchestrated and calm manner, whilst communicating this to those people my decision affected and that I care for, thus letting go of their expectations.
Given myself the chance to heal properly before trying to dive straight back into the situation that was harming me.
Tackled my problems from a place of calm, confidence and authority. Not reactivity, anger and stress.
Learned how to not make these mistakes again in future, and be a more useful version of myself to …myself.
Learned to be compassionate to myself even in times when I felt I was failing. Learned to understand and navigate these feelings and thoughts more effectively.
Lived my life more fairly to me and stop putting so much unnecessary pressure to be something/ somewhere I am simply not.
What has life has taught you since?
I am not superman.
I don’t have to do everything for everyone.
My needs have to come first, in order to then support those around me more effectively.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
My mental health journey is exactly that: a journey. Not a tick-box completion exercise. It’s something I will carry and work on for the rest of my life.
I am not perfect and I don’t want to be.
If I try to be perfect, I will drown. If I accept a “good enough” approach to living, I will succeed.
Make targets in line with other human beings, not superheroes.
I am good enough the way I am.
I am loveable the way I am.
I am enough.
What is one piece of advice you would give to other people struggling right now?
If you’re reading this blog, you’ve already gone 10 steps too far, reign it in and seek help now. Else you’ll burn out just like I did.
You are not going to be judged for showing weakness. Showing my weakness to others was the strongest thing I ever did.
People actually are more willing to help than I had perceived they would be. In fact, when I opened up – so did they.
My children don’t think less of me for crying. Neither does my wife. Being open has actually brought us closer together than ever before.
Men have feelings too.
I don’t have to be the person that people believe me to be. I don’t have to be that strong all the time.
It feels better to talk than to suffer in silence. It will help you to clarify where you head’s at. And that will pay you back in dividends down the line.
It’s okay to not be okay(!)
A final note:
These comments have been collated over many years of working with men. We agreed to share them today because of how far they have come, and how much suffering they have endured. We are committed to ensuring men have a safe space to open up in as well – one that is free of judgement and consequence.
As soon as we open up, we can start to see where we are going wrong and can start living a life which feels right.
So, why not stand up for yourself, break the stigma, reach out and admit we can all struggle. And there’s no shame in that at all.