Judging by memes alone, Game of Thrones fans were not ready for last night’s series finale.
And one online marketplace has banking on that truth, and has special counsellors standing by to help coach upset viewers through the end of their favourite show.
"The finale of the show was always going to leave fans distraught after eight years of enjoyment, so we’ve launched a specialised Game of Thrones counselling service to help bereft fans seek support and get the help they need through this tough time," the U.K.-based site Bark.com explained on a page set up for that purpose.
When you enter your postcode on the page, you're asked what, specifically is ailing you.
The choices include some designed to get a chuckle out of fans — "Cleganebowl," "Dealing with David Benioff & Daniel Weiss's writing decisions," "Numerous major GoT plot holes" — and then others that seem more serious, such as "Dealing with GoT loss" and "Post GoT emptiness."
This isn't exactly a joke, as viewers' relationships with shows like Game of Thrones go deep.
"We watch them to escape our daily lives and immerse ourselves into the 'unknown,'" Bark.com counsellor Lynette said in a statement to CNN. "This is the very reason why we sometimes become addicted to watching them, the stories they tell become part of our identity."
Other mental health professionals agree that feelings of grief and loss are common after the end of a TV series like Game of Thrones.
“It’s a way we detach from our own issues, our own problems,” Kristen Diou, a licensed professional counsellor and co-host of the "Pop Culture Therapists" podcast, told the Huffington Post.
“We can be more mindless. The thought of giving that up and coming back to our own world is a little frightening for people.”
It's not just the absence of the show that has some feeling down. Psychologist Janina Scarlet said that some people may have been turning to characters like Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) to cope with their own trauma experiences.
"Seeing a person who came from an abusive childhood, experienced violence, assault and tragedy can inspire many other trauma survivors, especially women, to better understand and process their traumatic experiences as well," she told CNET, explaining why episode five's twist was so devastating.
"For many fans, especially women, who might identify with Daenerys in terms of being a survivor, this sudden change can be both confusing and emotionally distressing."
After answering a few questions on the Bark.com page, including whether I wanted to meet in person, on the phone, or via video chat, the site posted my request for its pros.
I then had to sit back and wait for emails from these counsellors, who would basically pitch themselves as both GoT and mental health experts. Considering how popular the show has grown, this actually doesn't seem like such a tall order. But it looks like they're going to have some packed schedules this week.
As an alternative, you could see any regular therapist to deal with the underlying issues that caused you to lean on fictional characters for support. And please, if you are experiencing any mental health issues, do not view this article as a substitute for professional help.
Words by Sabrina Rojas Weiss
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