Since the 23rd of June 2016, when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union after more than 40 years of membership, I have been watching the drama that is Brexit unfold with both interest and incredulity. Much has been said and written regarding the impact this political crisis is having on the British economy, the healthcare system and the movement of people, but the impact of Brexit is much wider than this. Much less has been said about the three quarters of a million British Citizens that no longer reside in the UK but have chosen to live and work abroad. They are truly the forgotten casualties of Brexit.
Therapists need therapy too. Suffering is not unique to one group. Therapists are human too. Being a therapists who goes to therapy shouldn’t be a secret. But, unfortunately, many mental health professionals carry a double burden—their own issues, plus those of their clients. Therapists go to therapy for a great number of reasons from maintaining their boundaries with clients, to processing their own life events.
The often unmentioned casualties in the revolving door of expat life are neither coming nor going. They are staying. Those who remain also feel a great deal of pain and sadness. Perhaps less pronounced, expected or acknowledged than the pain of those who are leaving. But what can you actually do for yourself not to just survive these experiences but perhaps to thrive through them?
The past few years have seen more and more stressed out, burnt out, and struggling people turn to celebrities and psychologists for direction leading to record sales of self-help books. The cynics amongst us might groan internally at this news, although I suspect that many do not have a true understanding of what ‘self help’ constitutes or what it can offer. I myself prefer the term self curiosity or self reflection, rather than self help. It opens up my mind to possibilities rather than closing it down at the expectation of pop-psychology and quick, but short lived, “fixes”.
As a Clinical Psychologist running my own private practice, I have learned to thrive under stress. When I reflect on it, harnessing the innate pressure that comes alongside my role has undoubtedly improved my productivity, efficiency and ultimately my performance. As I say this however I am acutely aware of the fine line between using this pressure to my advantage and being engulfed by it. While short bursts of workplace stress can help us to prepare, focus and work more effectively, chronic stress can impact the quality of our work as well as our lives.