It’s great to have a friend who you feel comfortable with and trust enough to talk to about personal things and reveal what’s going on in your mind. In some cases, that kind of relationship might provide all the support that you need. However, sometimes just talking to a friend isn’t enough and you might need to seek professional help to work through what it is you’re going through. If these things seem familiar, it might be time to book an appointment with a therapist.
You find yourself complaining to your friend(s) 24/7 when you’re spending time with them. Yes, friends are there to help support you emotionally and listen to you vent when you’re upset and dealing with something major. However, it’s unfair to expect a friend to be a dumping ground for all of your issues all the time. Your friends probably don’t mind if you vent to them occasionally, but it will become exhausting and frustrating if it’s all you talk about to them. A healthy relationship, whether platonic and romantic, is a balanced one. If you find yourself constantly “venting” during the time you spend together and monopolizing every conversation with your woes, it’s probably time to talk to a therapist.
You’ve talked to your friend about the same issues multiple times and made no progress in solving them. If you’ve been venting about the same things to your friend over and over and you don’t feel any better—in fact, maybe you even feel worse—it’s definitely time to talk to a professional therapist. If your problems aren’t getting any easier to deal with or solve from talking about them to a friend, it’s a sign that you need to talk to someone who’s better equipped to help you figure out a plan of attack.
You feel worse about your situation after venting to a friend. A friend isn’t a professional therapist, so it’s possible that their advice or response to your problems has been less than ideal and/or made you feel worse about what you’re going through from time to time. That sucks, but it’s unreasonable to expect a friend to always know how to help you or what to say. A therapist will know how to navigate your issues and can help you figure out what the next best step is. If you’ve felt worse after venting to a friend, it’s a sign that you need to talk to someone who is more capable of understanding your situation.
Your emotions are spiraling out of control. If your friend isn’t available to talk when you feel an emotional breakdown coming, do you get angry and upset at her? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, it’s time to find a therapist. It’s fine to vent to your friend about problems in a calm and collected way when she asks what’s going on with you, but if you literally cannot stop your emotions from spiraling whenever she’s not at your beck and call, you need to get professional help.
You feel like you might hurt yourself (or someone else). If you’ve gotten to the point where you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, your friend will not be able to provide the treatment that you need in order to process and heal. Sometimes when you’re in a dark, lonely mindset and it feels like there is no way to feel better or fix it, you turn to last-resort options (or at least consider them). If that’s the case, you need to talk to a therapist.
Your friend is dealing with her own problems too. If the friend you trust the most to vent too is dealing with a lot in her own personal life, you should probably talk to a therapist rather than her because she might not have the emotional strength at the moment to handle your issues as well as her own. It’s always good to try to be aware of the people you lean on and make sure that they’re able to provide emotional support before just expecting them to do so.
You feel yourself editing the truth when venting to your friend. If you feel like you can’t be completely honest with your friend out of fear she’ll judge you or tell someone else, that’s a sign you need to talk to a therapist instead. A therapist will be an impartial person with no hidden agenda and absolutely no judgment. They will look at the situation objectively and you won’t have to worry about being judged or your secrets getting out.
It generally feels like you need more support in your life. Sometimes we all need more support than the loved ones in our lives can give us, and at times like those, it’s important to seek help from a professional. That person is educated and able to give you the support you need without being overwhelmed or emotionally exhausted.
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