Should You Seek Professional Help Just for You?

should you seek professional helpI fell apart after discovering Doug’s affair. My initial shock quickly became endless numbness.  However, I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t understand at the time that taking care of myself was so important.

At its worst, it was very bad. I didn’t know how I was going to get out of bed each morning. To function was very, very hard. I didn’t know how I would get through the day.  I just couldn’t believe that someone could lie to me that way.

I lost 20 pounds in a month and a half, and I’m only five foot tall. I didn’t weigh much to begin with. I still don’t know how I could have lost that much weight!

I went to my job every day, but I don’t remember being there or doing it. I just would go through the motions, go to bed hoping in the morning when I’d wake up, everything would be a dream. Then I would face it again.

My life was consumed with it.

It’s as if I didn’t even have an island of safety that I could  go to, and I found myself having all that confidence suddenly gone and never knew if the people around me were hurting me or not.  That’s very hellacious. (From Journey to Trust: Rebuilding Trust After an Affair)

Perhaps you felt something similar and realized that you needed to pull yourself together but had no idea how.  I’m talking about self-care here.  Individual counseling – not couples counseling.

The following is a helpful excerpt from the book, Getting Past the Affair: A Program to Help You Cope, Heal, and Move On – Together or Apart by Donald H. Baucom and Douglas K. Snyder.    It may help to guide you as to whether or not you should seek individual counseling or therapy.


When should you seek professional help?

Although there’s no simple answer to this question, a general guideline to follow is to pursue separate help for yourself if:

  • Your responses to the affair are so acutely intense in the short term that they could result in serious harm to yourself or others
  • Your emotional distress continues over an extended period of time at a level that prevents individual or relationship recovery.

Signs that you might benefit from outside assistance include the following:

Severe or persistent depression. Thoughts about suicide or actual attempts to harm yourself. Severe disruption of your sleep, eating, or other physical self-care that could lead to negative consequences for your health. Profound and unshakable feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt. Repeated crying spells of last 30 minutes or longer. Nearly complete loss of interest in daily activities involving work, home, friends, or family on an ongoing basis.

Severe or persistent anxiety. Overwhelming fear or worry that brings emotional or physical exhaustion. Inability to concentrate or think clearly. Acute physiological arousal resulting in severe headaches, muscle tension, stomach upset, or chest pains. Recurrent episodes of panic or chronic dread that continue despite efforts to engage in emotional self-care.

Rage or physical aggression against others. Uncontrolled verbal or physical aggression directed toward your partner, the outside affair person, or others. Acts of retaliation against your partner that you later regret, such as destruction of property. Sudden outbursts of anger towards persons uninvolved in the affair, such as your children or coworkers.

Behaviors harmful to yourself. Actions that provide pleasure or relief in the short run but may harm you in the long run.  For example, excessive use of alcohol or other substances to influence your mood, spending sprees that create financial hardship, or having an affair of your own as a way of “getting even.”

Inability to reach critical decisions. Inability to reach decisions for yourself about how to manage the crisis in the short term – such as how to confront your partner or the outside affair person, what to tell the children, or whether to continue living together. Or inability to approach longer-term decisions – for example, how long to tolerate your partner’s affair if it hasn’t ended, or whether to commit to restoring this relationship or move on separately.

If one or more of these descriptions apply to you, it’s important to get separate help for yourself. You might also decide to seek outside assistance even if your difficulties don’t appear as severe as those described above. Getting outside help isn’t self-indulgent, and it doesn’t reflect moral or character weaknesses; it’s about survival and about becoming healthy again for the sake of those persons you care about and who care about you. Among the benefits that outside professionals may provide are greater experience or expertise in dealing with relationship problems, ability to offer specific resources such as medication, greater capacity to remain objective, and commitment to confidentiality.

I know that the jury is still out for some of you as to whether or not therapy or counseling is worth the time, effort and money.  I found that if nothing else, therapy helped me to focus on the things I needed to focus on and to keep me on the right track.  It was also a wonderful avenue to express my thoughts and feelings without feeling judged and to confirm that I wasn’t going crazy.


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5 Responses to Should You Seek Professional Help Just for You?

  1. Paula August 30, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    Holy heck! I am SOOO not a therapy girl, but (excuse me) good God, I have seen a lot of “therapists!” When there is nowhere else to turn, what the heck do you do? Try, try again. I also lost a lot of weight quickly 15kgs in three weeks and then another 3 in another month. (Sadly, after going on anti-depressants nearly two years later, I put most back on.) Get help. In any way, shape or form.

    Question: does running a blog keep you here? I am incredibly thankful for you two, but you sound so together now, and I don’t really understand. I am on a similar timeline, and I am NOT together just barely coping, and I am not running a blog about this! When will my life be okay again? Never. And I am aware of this. Man it is tiring. Who can find the “off” switch?

  2. Gizfield August 30, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    Paula, not a therapist here, but your situation was much more extreme than Linda’s I think. Your husbands affair was physical, with a so called close friend. Doug’s was not physical, with a person Linda doesn’t know. BIG difference. in my opinion, of course.

  3. Rachel August 30, 2013 at 7:36 am #

    Therapy has really kept my from sinking. It helped me understand my husband and his narsasisstic behavior . A work I never even heard of.
    The verbal abuse that I have heard for years wasn’t normal and I tried to change myself for him. I starved myself when I was told of his affair hoping he would want me and not her the oversized pig.
    He told me that all husbands spoke as he did. Odd sexual requests that I just couldn’t partake in.
    My therapist helped me understand that this wasn’t normal and all husbands do not speak to their wives like this.
    It took research for a good therapis and after seeing 3 my 4th is a charm.

  4. JennyN August 30, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Therapy is the best money I have ever spent on myself.

    I was going prior to the affair, and honestly it kept me sane when the affair hit.

    We learn math, and science in school, but we don’t always learn life skills that we need in the real world. Man some of my life experiences (like the affair) have helped me to heal not only from the affair (still working on that), but to heal childhood stuff.

    It is nice to feel in a safe protective bubble and have a place to talk about whatever you need. I was often doing that for someone else to my own detriment.

  5. Teresa August 31, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    I started therapy in July…just for me, and I love it! It’s no longer about the EA for me….but my H’s passive aggressive behavior!
    He’s done soooo much damage to our relationship, since Dday, with his PA behavior…PAs are called The Bitchmakers…and it’s TRUE!!

    It wasn’t until I found out he was PA in January, 2 yrs after Dday, that I was able to FINALLY understand his behavior, though that hasn’t helped our relationship a whole lot.
    My H started talking to a Pastor friend last week…to “help” him overcome his PA behavior….I’m not holding my breath that anything will come of it though. He’s made me so many promises and doesn’t follow through…
    My therapist is helping me to no longer be co-dependent, to no longer be my passive aggressive husbands enabler.
    @Rachel….I feel for ya, Rachel…Passive Aggressives are bad….Narcissists are Passsive Aggressives on steroids!!
    Good luck on getting the divorce and being FREE!!!

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