“Tyler Burned Out”. by Henry Regehr
The panic attacks should not have caught him by surprize. As a clinical psychologist, my friend, Tyler, had been working overtime to meet the demands for his wide range of services. In addition, he had been invited frequently to do workshops and lectures. His difficult clients had been a particular problem and he had failed to get consults for them. Sleeping fewer than his required eight hours added to his distress.
“What were you thinking?” I asked him.
“I was entirely focused on getting the work done, and I was not thinking nor was I taking care of myself”.
What broke the camel’s back was that he had been accused of improper sexual contact with a troubled client. He insisted it had not happened. The client had demanded having sex with him, he told me, and when he refused, she reported her version of the story to other professionals. It turned into a personal and professional disaster, and my friend slipped into a period of panic attacks and, eventually, into a major depression.
Had Tyler listened to his inner voice, his intuition, he told me, ruefully, he would have known years before that the early signs of overwork, unsated ambition, and unfettered competitiveness would lead to crushing defeat. He had, he confessed, been blinded to the increasing anxiety and the messages his intuition was giving him. The stress related illnesses were letting him know that he was headed for a crash. And it came head on.
He decided to get professional assistance with his depression, and then he asked his friends for guidance and support which we were willing to give. He showed me his appointment book and I was shocked to see the overcrowded schedule. “Do you really want me to intervene” I asked? When he agreed, together we started crossing out days and even weeks when he would not take assignments. He would go back to his golfing and gardening interests. He then started having relaxed dates with his longsuffering wife and spent more time with his friends. We all rallied around him, gave him encouragement.
Slowly Tyler learned the skill of nurturing himself by meditating, exercising, going on long walks and listening to quiet music. He became aware of his “inner voice”, his intuition, and was able to listen quietly and attentively. He listened to Don McLean’s “Starry, Starry Night”:
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy, linen land
Now, I understand what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen. They did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now