BURNOUT! - by Christy Smith

Published on 11 November 2021 at 12:38

I had a difficult time accepting help. I had been at a constant pace for so long that I did not know how to slow down until I crashed and burned emotionally.  Furthermore, I would disconnect and isolate myself from the world of misunderstanding. It is exhausting to defend myself over and over again.  It is almost as if I pulled up my big girl pants to conquer the world on my own without realizing it (building a wall of safety defense).  There are other caregivers out there who do the same thing; we just hide. We simply do not discuss it with others, so we are unable to relate to one another. We have suffered silently. 

When I first received the county's offer of respite, all I could think about was guilt.  They called what I was experiencing "burnout." I was unable to accept that. I felt like a terrible failure just saying that I am burnt out from being a mother. I adore my family, and I was working so hard to save us all that I had lost track of what I was doing. I was so exhausted and overwhelmed.  I was incredibly ashamed looking at all these beautiful faces and saying I needed a break; I am burnt out.  

I am a mom, it's instinct to carry everyone. We just keep pushing and pushing until we can't. How could I be so tired of being a mom? This is all I ever wanted to be in life. Accepting this took time for me to process. I beat myself up in shame. We as moms tend to overlook ourselves as a priority. If we are not mentally healthy, we fall apart, and then the rest of the family follows along the path. The cycle will continue to be the same routine until we allow ourselves grace.  We try to be the superhero, and we are not. We, too, are human and deserve a place to unwind, a "mind space." We are allowed to have that calm.  I have personally created "mom strike" days.  I don't do laundry or clean the house. I have learned a messy home is a happy home.  My children will not remember the toys on the floor, laundry in laundry baskets, dishes that were not always washed, and so on. If I do not change this, they will remember their mother's tears, stress, and being too tired to do anything with them.  

So, even though it is the most difficult thing to do, especially during a crisis, I now prioritize myself, and it is near the top.  It is not selfish to be healthy and regain some of YOU that you lost somewhere along the way. I know it's difficult to follow through during a crisis. It is a gradual process that leads to improved mental health.