The simple answer is yes. If it is recommended that you seek counselling or if you feel that a professional could help you, then there is no use feeling embarrassed about it. Psychologists are trained to help. It does not mean that you’re crazy; it simply means that you need someone who understands what you’re going through and who is prepared to provide the help that you need.
A therapist can guide you to find your way out of burnout and he/she can give you the right advice, something your friends are often unable to do. Why? The simple truth is, unless you have a friend who has gone through burnout, you will have no one who is going to understand what is happening with you.
Why do you Need a Therapist?
One harsh lesson I learned during burnout was that I was alone in this. None of my friends understood what I was going through and a lot of unwanted, foolish, and senseless advice that I could have done without was thrown at me. Only years later, after I had healed, I spoke to a colleague and learned that, a long time ago, he had suffered burnout too. You know what he said?
He told me the same thing: “Friends don’t get it. Unless someone actually experienced burnout, they have no idea what you’re going through, they don’t understand.”
So, who can help? A therapist. And there is no shame in that. If you have a digestive issue you go and see the family doctor. If you need to get your eyes checked, you visit an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. So, if the affected organ turns out to be your brain, you go see a psychologist. It’s as simple as that.
When I was diagnosed with burnout in 2016, a psychologist was recommended immediately + medical treatment for tensional cephalia (an inflammation of the brain muscles which had caused me unbearable headaches). I never hesitated about getting a therapist. I knew that I needed help and from day 1 of my diagnosis I was determined to heal.
“Well-Meant” Advice and “Tough Love”
“You’ll get through this.” “You’re just having a bad day.” “You must learn how to handle stress.” “We all have sh..t going on, you know.” “You’re not the only one having a hard time.”
The usual words that come from a place of no or little understanding. Yes, we know that everyone is going through stuff. Yes, we know that we can get through this. Yes, we certainly know that we are not the only ones. No, this is not just “one bad day”. No, burnout is not stress.
That friend who is convinced that you “need some tough love”, however, may be unaware that burnout is not a choice you make. You did not suddenly decide to be a wreck. You surely did not decide to stop functioning. This is something out of your control, and for anyone who does not experience such a thing there is little to no comprehension.
Mental health issues are not “choices”, they are often out of the victim’s control, and “well-meant” advice such as the above mentioned may often spark an ardent desire to strangle the bringer of those words.
When I went through burnout a few years back, I quickly understood that my friends were the wrong people to talk to when it concerned burnout. My therapist was the only one who understood – and my colleague.
Aren’t Therapists Expensive?
Yes, it is certainly not cheap, but considering how my therapist helped me and was always there for me, it was worth paying the money. Not only did we meet once a week (for one hour), but she also told me that I could call her at any time of the day if I needed to talk or if I needed advice. She was a great help.
I did not call her at all times, of course, but I called her once. One afternoon, I was driving, and suddenly traffic slowed down, which meant changing gears (I drive standard). I had been driving for years, and I knew how to change gears, obviously. I did this automatically, without even thinking about it, but on that day I absolutely did not remember how to do it. My mind was a complete blank.
When that happened there were cars ahead of me and behind me, and my dog was in the backseat. He started crying, which did not make things easier for me. I was desperate to change the gear stick, but I could not do it anymore, I just did not know how … And with the dog howling behind me, you can just imagine …
I turned the wheel to get to the sidewalk where I parked the car, not even changing the gear, the motor turned off by itself, and I sat there with my howling dog – he must have felt my emotions, that’s the only explanation I have for his unexpected howling and crying …
That was the only time I called my therapist out of visiting hours, because I was a wreck, the howling stressed me to no end, and I did not understand why I had suddenly forgotten how to drive. It turned out that it was a burnout symptom … After a little while, it all came back to me, I remembered how to drive, and I went back home.
Therapy may cost money, yes, but it is worth it. Healing from burnout can take months, even years, so it is highly recommended that you seek help from a professional to speed up or at least help your healing process.
If you are still unsure about seeing a therapist, for financial reasons or whatever other reasons, please think of the coming months, or years. You do not need a psychologist for years, it may only be a for a few months, and if the price is a little too high, keep it to one visit per week.
You could spend less money on certain luxuries you always buy or treats that are not really “treats” such as wine. Alcohol during burnout is not recommended anyway, because alcohol is a depressant. So, save money on certain unnecessary expenditures and use that for a therapist instead.
The main thing is that you need to heal. And believe me, the best person to help you is someone who understands what you’re going through.