Mommy Burnout-What is it?
I had been putting off writing about burnout because I knew it would bring up feelings I prefer to bury. But, I remind myself this is why I wanted to start my blog in the first place. To let other women know that if you are going thru anxiety, depression, and burnout like I did, you are not alone. I’m sharing my personal story with the hopes it reaches other women that are struggling with any of this.
“Yes” was the word of choice for five years. Never knowing when to stop and take a breath. Yes to ask after ask and obligating myself to boards and volunteer positions to whomever and whatever came my way. I was handling it ok until slowly I became unable to handle the stresses of all of the extra responsibilities in addition to my everyday chores and mommy duties.
Why did I take on so many roles on top of parenting 4 kids and running a household? Because I felt I couldn’t say “no,” like many of us often do. If I wanted to remain the “perfect” mom, this is what we do. We sit on boards, we volunteer, we coach until our metaphorical hands bleed. The Irony; We do everything BUT, stay at home. I said YES to everything that was asked of me sacrificing myself in the process.
The signs I Ignored
The physical symptoms of depression, anxiety, and burnout began slowly. Before meetings and events, my heart would start racing and palpitating. I would feel like my heart was going to explode. Before meetings, I would have to take deep breaths to get it to stop. Sitting in my car waiting for it to pass was a common occurrence. Telling people who questioned me that I just “needed a sec to find my phone.”
The debilitating migraines began shortly thereafter. Sometimes lasting for days. I would end up in bed nauseous from all of the pill popping. Taking anything in my medicine cabinet in the hopes of alleviating just some of the pain. Insomnia followed, beginning with just a little restlessness at night, then complete sleeplessness. Three nights before an event, I would end up going seventy-two hours with no sleep. Which makes for a very moody mommy. Weight and hair loss ensued. Resulted in a walking zombie prone to snappy outbursts.
I had begun to alienate myself from everyone and becoming a recluse. If I didn’t have an event at school or another dreaded obligation I would crawl right back into bed after I dropped the kids off. It would take every ounce of energy I had to get thru school events and daily routines. These symptoms of anxiety and depression I rationalized as just being tired and needing a vacation.
The symptoms, my anxiety, everything finally came to a head one night at a PTA meeting. I flipped out while speaking to a crowd of parents. I angrily screeched at the audience “Why isn’t anybody listening to me?” while white-knuckling the podium. That was my “Ah ha” moment.
Shortly after “PTA-gate” at the insistence of my husband, I visited my primary physician. She listened when I sobbed in her office. She changed my hormones around and put me on an antidepressant and suggested supplements. I started seeing my therapist consistently.
Anxiety and depression will always be issues for me but I recognize my triggers now. My triggers being mainly stress and not really just not staying on top of things, taking care of myself. Now what keeps me sane is a healthy dose of yoga, doing more for me, and dishing out a lot of “NO’S.” Now only saying “yes” to something that brings me joy in doing so. This program works for me, but everyone is different.
Through my journey ,I have met many women that have gone thru similar experiences. I visited a friend last week her eyes were red with exhaustion. Why I wonder do we continue to put ourselves thru this self-sacrifice? For our children, For the parental glory? I wonder if our children will remember all that we did, or would they prefer to remember us as healthy happy mothers?
Have you experienced Mommy burnout?