The Burnout Cure
If the demands of the day-to-day leave you feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted, you may be suffering from an all-too-common malady prevalent among women: emotional burnout.
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Chances are that you know a woman who has had a miscarriage. It can be difficult to know how to respond when a friend experiences such a tragedy.
I recently offered my professional insight on the topic to a Woman’s Day article entitled “9 Things Never to Say to a Woman Who’s Had a Miscarriage.” Here’s a quick review of what not to say in this situation:
There are two things I’d like you to know about me. The first is that I’m a therapist, a clinical social worker with well over a decade of experience. I run a successful private practice and am very happily married with three children. The second is that for many years in my early twenties, I suffered from severe, treatment-resistant depression.
For close to four years, I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, emergency rooms, and therapy offices. I was voluntarily committed, involuntarily committed, and at one point I escaped from an ER when my police escort thought it safe enough to leave me.
I remember the horrible feeling of my stomach being filled with a thick charcoal and then being emptied out, the stitches that were sewn on my skin. I recall waking up and dreading that I was still alive rather than dead.
No matter what medications they tried or which therapists I was sent to, I remained determined and desperate to end my life. At my lowest point, I called my parents from the psychiatric hospital and told them I was sorry, but I was going to kill myself again once they let me out. As a mother, I cannot fathom getting a phone call like this from my child.
In my mind, there was no future. I had been kicked out of two graduate schools for attempting suicide. I could not imagine how life would ever be tolerable. All I wanted was for the pain to stop.
I rarely think about this time in my life. None of my colleagues and very few of my friends know about it. I haven’t told my children yet, although I know that this time will come.
As I recall those days, I am truly thankful for those who interceded. But this was not always the case: For a long time I was so angry at the roommate who came home early and called 911. I was furious at the paramedics, the police and the therapists, because they didn’t understand that there was nothing left for me on this earth.
I thought it was my right as an adult human to choose if I wanted to die. I knew in my heart that I was not insane or stupid or incompetent. The problem was that I could not think clearly because depression held a vice grip on my entire being. I did not know at the time that I would find a treatment that worked, and that the demons I struggled with would eventually leave.
During my darkest days, I needed people in the world to fight for my life, because I could not.
I do not talk about my own past or current struggles in the therapy room. But when someone comes in who is hurting deeply and considering suicide, this is my message: “I know you cannot see a future for yourself. I know you don’t have the strength right now to hope for something other than what you’re feeling in this moment. So I will be strong for you. I will hope for you, until you are able to hope for yourself. “
For those who have run out of hope, we must hope. For those who have run out of strength, we must be strong. And this is why I am a therapist.