For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the person that my family and friends come to when they need help, advice, or someone to talk to. I have always taken great pride in my ability to listen, reserve judgment, and provide support in the best way possible. Early on, I decided that this was my calling in life and by fourth or fifth grade, I knew that I would work to become a clinical psychologist. As I grew up, I gained a reputation for being a good listener and was even voted Best Advice in my class of 500 in high school. I am currently studying psychology at a premier university and, going into my senior year, am poised to go onto graduate school to get my Ph.D.
Honestly, it pains me to admit what I have been going through lately. I haven’t had the best summer. Certainly not the worst, nothing I can’t handle, but I have been a little wrapped up into my own life to be of full support to all of the people who rely on me. I sincerely just need somebody to talk to. And lately, I’ve realized that many of my friends, even my mother, only want to speak to me when they are struggling with something. I’ve started to withdraw from everybody, turning my phone off and becoming increasingly reclusive, as a result.
Whenever I feel up to it, I try to reconnect and help those I love with whatever energy I have. I recognize that in order to help those around me, I need to help myself first, but the burden I have undertaken from a very young age is truly a responsibility I cannot help feeling guilty ignoring. The people I love are good people, they deserve to be happy, and I want to help them in any way that I possibly can. But as the panic attacks and spells of depression and eating disorders pile up, I find myself getting more and more frustrated with everybody. Nothing I say is helping and everybody seems annoyed that I can’t help them the way that I used to. This frustration has gotten so bad that I can barely help anybody anymore, instead resenting them for not being able to help themselves.
I am not a licensed therapist. The first thing that I tell anybody is to seek professional help. But with the stigma still attached to clinical attention and the general laziness associated with psychopathology, I realize I am the only viable outlet in the eyes of my friends and family.
I don’t know what to do. The more I fail to help, the more exasperated I get and the less I believe in my ability to flourish as a clinical psychologist. Not only am I failing as a friend, I feel I am failing as a professional. More and more, I am unsure if I want to continue onto graduate school, if I can handle the burden I undertake in helping these people. This is my dream, and I recognize that working with clients will allow me to compartmentalize my professional and personal lives more appropriately, but, Reddit, I am scared. I just need somebody to talk to.
TL;DR: Everybody comes to me for counseling and, not only can I not help them anymore, it’s making me question my calling in life.