The winding road through my encounters with therapy while dealing with burnout and depression. My GP I referred me to a treatment center specialized in dealing with burnout and anxiety. First there was the intake…
September 2018. During the intake I was asked questions from a questionnaire to scan for burnout and to differentiate between burnout and depression. The therapist was fair, I had the feeling he had some affection with the environment I was working in. Doubt arose since it was not clear if I was suffering from burnout or depression. One question sealed the deal: when during the day did I feel best? During the evening or the morning? Or was it all the same to me? It was decided that it was clearly a burnout. There was also the option of group therapy. You know, where people learn from each other stories. Those were 60 per session. As I was overwhelmed as it was, I passed for that option and signed up for the individual sessions (80/session). After the team made a decision, I was assigned to another therapist to get those sessions, addressing me and my burnout, started.
I met ‘my’ therapist a month later. She was a nice lady but I noticed she was always late. Sometimes 10’, sometimes 15’. I don’t know but it did strike me as odd. I was overstressed. It took me a lot of courage and energy to even show up but I don’t want to whine so let’s move on. I did had the feeling she was supportive and that she got to know me. It was nice to have a first bond with the person inside of me due to talk therapy. We discussed factors that were the biggest contributors to my burnout. We searched for my passions, values and thoughts about life. We examined the life-work balance. The sessions took place every three weeks and every time she gave me a workbook to read and to do some homework. Honestly, I did read it because I was told to. I was too tired to read, too tired to think and to make assignments. But I did. And to be even more honest, I don’t remember any of the things discussed in those books. I just remember that I have a few of them.
What was helpful to me during therapy?
She was in contact with my GP on a regular basis. I needed to see my GP every month to obtain a medical certificate, one for work and one for health insurance. At the time I was still not clearly thinking. It was difficult for me to explain what was going on and I was not in a position to make the decision if I was able to start working again. I did not have any words other than ‘I feel tired’ and ‘I don’t feel well but slightly better I suppose’. I needed support to get those papers in order. As I had the feeling that my GP wasn’t totally caught up on the situation, the therapist made the phone calls and I went to collect the forms. She always told me was what said during these phone calls. So during one of the sessions I hear her speaking about ‘a severe burnout’ regarding my case. That was new for me and I did not know what to think about that. It was bad enough that I was already ill. I hoped I could be ‘normally’ ill and not out of the norm, like ‘severe’ sounded to me.
I still had the hope to be able to start working in the new year. I didn’t know if ‘severely ill’ would fit in that plan.
What I experienced as helpful, was that she stayed on the subject. During this whole time, I went every week to my other therapist, where I talked all things difficult: about me, my upbringing and the losses I endured in life. In the treatment center we stayed on topic. In retrospect, the biggest focus was on the dynamic between me and my workplace and trying to connect the dots what really did happen that led up to the current events. What I remember as the most helpful act was to normalize my symptoms. It was ‘normal for me to feel like that’.
What I went through and experienced was ‘ok’.
Recovery was slow. The tiredness didn’t went away but the physical symptoms weren’t that present anymore. I did start to feel a bit better and did reconnect with ‘joyful’ activities. On a slow pace but still … I smiled sometimes. We write March 2019.
Do you have the feeling I made some progress here? Do you have any questions for me? Do you enjoy the series? You can always leave a comment. I hope to see you next Thursday for an update. If you would like to read the previous parts, you can find them here: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4. Or click in the menu on ‘my story’.
Photo by Matteo Catanese
Hello dear reader, I am back again for the Thursday-series. Last week I told you that I sought treatment for burnout with an behavioral therapist. At the end of March I made some important decisions. During January and February I went to work to discuss my possible return. I’ll provide you with some … Continue reading The winding road of therapy. Work and Burnout. Part 6.