*(The examples provided below are composite cases, synthesizing disguised information and not any patient in particular)*
We are all varying levels of exhausted and it is no wonder considering what we’ve been through in the last year. When the outside world becomes too much to bear, closing ourselves in and withdrawing is one way of trying to mitigate the over-stimulation. The short-term benefits may be immediately evident, and how do we find ways that support long-term relief from drastic fatigue?
Many who may not have sought therapy prior to the pandemic are finding refuge and support in this space. The stigma of accessing mental health therapy is defusing, and utilizing the support of a trained clinician is a tool in one’s self-care kit. A therapist can assist in understanding what has created your individual fatigue, and working in relationship with you to better define and address the factors that contribute to feelings of overwhelm and depletion.
This story of fatigue is very common to practicing clinicians. *Tan came to therapy reporting they were barely functioning, finding themselves on autopilot; doing the things they knew they needed to do, and crashing from the sheer expenditure of energy. They noted feeling empty and disengaged from the work that had formerly brought them energy and passion. Tan’s reaction to pandemic-related stressors was in fear they would get sick, and become a burden to their family and friends. They had received messages of “being strong” from colleagues and family members and had a limited definition of what strength looked like in action. Tan was working long hours, through breaks, believing they didn’t have time for recreation or rest. Tan was able to identify, with the support of a trusted therapist, their perception of strength, what they witnessed in themselves that conflicted with their perception, and the steps necessary to reprioritizing their time to include self-care. With consistent sessions, and a willingness to accept help, Tan was able to develop a greater awareness to reengage with activities that brought fulfillment, achieve a better work/life balance, and observe patterns of behavior to more readily act to support their needs day to day.
Author: Diana Smits