Am I too much?

by | 14 February 2019 | 15 comments

‘She said I was too much.’

There. I’ve said it. My shame is disclosed and I tighten reflexively, waiting for the words that will doom me to hopelessness: ‘Yes, you are too much.’

Instead the silence wafts gently between us, backwards and forwards, like a palm leaf.

It was a friend of mine just after university who first said it. I was having a bit of a breakdown – just a fun-size one rather than the maxi version I would have in my thirties. I had nowhere to live. I had no money or work. And things were unravelling around me. I spent an evening in this friend’s college room and at some point I started having flashbacks. Or dissociating. Or something. I didn’t have the words for it then. But I was back in a place of pain, and it was evidently difficult to watch. Afterwards she told me that she couldn’t cope with me, that she didn’t want to be friends with me, that I was ‘too much’.


Find the complete article in Carolyn’s new book, ‘Unshame: healing trauma-based shame through psychotherapy’, available now!

A word of explanation

I had therapy mainly between 2006 and 2015. These blog posts are not verbatim accounts of sessions, but rather the client equivalent of ‘case studies’ – amalgamations of various sessions, ‘narratively true’ rather than ‘historically true’. Although often written for stylistic purposes in the present tense, they are very much from a past period of my life. Ideally they should be read within the wider context of other blog posts, articles and my book, to give a more integrated and rounded sense of where I was at, where I’m at now, and the process that took place between those two points. I have been on a journey of recovery, and the difference in me from when I was in therapy (especially at the beginning) to now is testament to the brain’s ability to recover from even the most appalling suffering.

My primary work now is writing, followed closely by training therapists, counsellors and other professionals to support survivors of trauma. Regrettably I cannot provide one-to-one support but our charity framework PODS (Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors) provides a helpline and a range of other services: please go to for more information, and if you are looking for support.

For training, please see our range of live courses at, and our online courses at We also publish a range of resources to support recovery from trauma, which you can see at My first book, Recovery is my best revenge, is available to buy at




  1. Michelle

    Wow this has spoken volumes to us, thank you so much for sharing. This is what I had said the other day in another way that I am a burden, but what has been shared here has helped in so many ways and put things in perspective, it’s the trauma not us!!! It’s certainly put a light on and has set us free, going forwards we can now separate the trauma and us. I will not let trauma define who I am. Thank you 😊

  2. Leyla

    This. Is. So. Good.! Thank you for writing. It is SO SO SO painful having the experience of being told you are “too much”, and losing relationships or friendships as a result, then paradoxically ending up more isolated. I came across a great related book recently too, perhaps you know it: Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame. I am finding it helpful. xxx

  3. Inge Robinson

    This was so refreshing to read, thank you for sharing, some very helpful dialogue too between your therapist and yourself. I shall take it all on board and try and apply some of your therapists ideas and words in my own practice. Obviously not word for word but the sentiment behind the words and the amazing thoughtfulness of the words.

  4. Sarah

    Thank you Carolyn, I needed to read this today x

  5. Amanda

    Thanks for continuing to shed light on your journey as it helps validate ours. There are days your blogs contribute enormously to giving us reason to have hope that it’s worth living. Can’t tell you how many times has ‘we are scared we are too much’ has come up in therapy and in our everyday.
    The shame weighs heavily.

  6. Sanj

    I am just about to go back into another round of therapy and my script is that I am ‘too much’. This piece really helped me to view my traumatic experiences as separate to me; maybe I am not too much after all…

  7. Rolene Cort

    Thank you for putting this into words. I just wanted to reach across and hold you and assure you and all the ‘you’s who have been through such horrific trauma and say you are not too much.

  8. Philippa

    yes, that! Thank you Carolyn (again) . . . . .keep telling us!

  9. Rosanna

    Thanks again – reading this helps me verbalise my own thoughts in sessions. I can continue speaking rather than shutting down and ‘walking out’.

  10. SharonJayne

    Thank you so much for this. Needed reading. Needed truths.

  11. T

    Wow! This is amazingly written or is say I could have written it myself!! All my fears expressed so clearly and then knowing I’m not and in these feelings. Thank you for writing this!!

  12. F

    Heartfelt gratitude to you. Eloquent and accurate. Such profound reminders. Thankyou.

  13. RM

    Thank you so much for your writing.

  14. Justine

    Thank you so much for this. This is my internal dialogue. It is excruciating. At some point in my life, I started pushing my emotions down and using my intellect instead. I would just relate with my mind. That was when people stopped saying that I was too much as often. Instead, they said I was too complicated. I am still dealing with the shame of this. All the time.

  15. Imani

    I constantly think I am “too much” and annoyingly this sense of being “too much” was further reinforced by being given a label by NHS psychiatric services as “emotionally unstable” or “borderline”. Nobody wants to have their personality labelled as disordered, especially when your personality is placed squarely in the ‘histrionic’ sub category. I am not the only person labelled as personality disordered, when really they were just badly traumatised, and responding entirely normally for someone who had grown up with developmental enduring trauma. Now I have left the NHS, my too muchness feels less, as I have a therapist who doesn’t perceive me to be too complex, too difficult, too demanding, too treatment resistant and all the unfortunate tags put on me by the NHS. Who you interact with can either dissolve your sense of too muchness in a healing way, or it can add a whole great thick extra slab of too muchness on top, and attach that too muchness to your whole personality. You don’t have to listen to people who shame you for being in their mind “too much”. Maybe you are too much for them, but that says a lot more about their own personal limitations than your intrinsic value as a human trying really hard to right the wrongs of a dissociative trauma history.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More from Carolyn…

Suicide – to be or not to be?

I could cope with it no longer. Every part of me—eyelids, throat, bowels—everything was clenched tight in a ball of furious unbearability. This feeling—such a feeling!—loomed up over me like some prehistoric sea-monster, ready to snap me up and devour me, ready to pilfer my bones and pick apart my brain. This feeling was too much.

Frequently asked questions from the PODS helpline

What are the most frequently asked questions on the PODS helpline? Client Services Manager reveals the main questions – and her answers.

Podcast: #6 – The therapeutic relationship

Join Carolyn as she talks about how important the relationship between therapist and client is, and what factors go into making a good one.