Today, I woke up as usual. Tired. I tried my best to dig into my yoga routine but I could not. A terrible pain in my shoulders drew me back from my mat. So I skipped it. I havent been practicing yoga for two weeks now. The longest period ever in months. I don’t take any painkillers because I breastfeed.
Around 10’30 am, I was at the doctor office. An appointment I made for my daughter Tulsi. I already felt the tiredness as I witnessed her playing around. My eyes were filled with water as I was trying to make her avoid reducing the space to a perfect mess.
Typical mum you would think quietly.
By 11 am, we enter the doctor office. He gives a quick look to Tulsi who is full of energy and then he stares at me. It will take him less then two minutes to tell me :
You are depleted. You are a burn-out mom. I think we need to take care of you before taking care of the baby.
When he said these words, I retained myself from crying. My eyes were filling again but this time, it was tears, real ones. How could this stranger tell from one look that I was burning out?
It’s on your face, he says when I try an attempt to comprehend his statement. Your face shows extreme tiredness and depletion.
I look at my husband, begging him to listen to what the doctor just said. For the first time in months, I feel completely understood, I feel that someone has just put a finger on what I’ve been feeling for a long time now. I’m not crazy, what I’m going through is not a random depression, something linked to the fact that I became a mum is making me sick.
So this doctor is saying : you are not alone. We will take care of you. Answering my quiet begging for help.
Only yesterday, we were having an argue with my husband about me being “overwhelmed”,” oversensitive”, “impossible” “rude”. He said: living with you has become difficult.
When I first heard those words, of course I felt pain. But also, I felt guilty about my behavior, my anger, my incapacity to stay happy and motivated when I should feel so happy because I have a wonderful baby who is loved by almost everyone. I must live the most amazing experience, that is being a mum.
How come I’m not?
Some thought would suggest to me : you are a terrible person : so selfish, so full of ingratitude. But also, most of the times, I had this recurrent thought that is : help me. I don’t know what is happening to me. I’m just so tired. So tired, so empty.
The truth is I’ve come to the point where everything seems to be a difficult, complicated, impossible task. In the morning, I’m already depressed about the day starting and my only concern is to go back to sleep. When I look at my daughter, I often think that I’m not doing enough, that something is missing, that I could give more of love. With people, I quickly loose patience, and if I don’t in front of them (mainly because my work puts me in touch with people all the time with who I should be very friendly), I lose patience with myself and first and foremost I lose patience with my daughter. Tulsi. It’s not just that I yell at her (which occurred only once), but I feel the impossibility of having her around me, as if I was going to hurt her. I feel myself completely incapable of being around her because I can’t hold my nerves, I can’t keep calm, I need to be on my own to regain my spirits.
I’ve also been feeling very sad lately, incapable to really make up my mind about small projects, and at the same time always trying to be “perfect”, to be “around”, to be “connected”, “active”.
Always between two opposite states with major crisis where I just can’t do anything.
When the doctor pronounced the words : Burn out, I felt that for the first time since I gave birth, a name has been given to my behavior and to my feelings. I felt that it’s not “ME”, it’s a state that many mums do live but dont acknowledge.
Here a table of the symptoms of burnout according to :http://www.helpguide.org
Physical signs and symptoms of burnout
Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout
Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout
Burnout concerns any mum : stay at home mum, working mum, young mums. Anyone who experiences the symptoms above is probably concerned with burnout.
I’m a burnout mum, what do I do now ?
According to http://www.webmd.com/women/caregiver-recognizing-burnout?page=2, first and foremost, a burnout caregiver should EXPRESS their feelings. They should talk to someone they trust about their feelings and frustrations.
I have just created on Facebook a group in order for mums to support each others. whether they are living this situation or feel the ability to help morally. https://www.facebook.com/groups/866752793417983/
The website also suggest to get help ( at home), give ourself a break everyday to focus on our own needs ( an hour or two). A mum able to give IS a mum able to receive and listen to her own needs first.
“It’s also important for us mums, to EDUCATE ourselves ”
I completely agree with this argument because the moment I heard about the word “burnout mum” I felt instantly relieved. Putting a name on depression or disease is very important. It makes you feel less alone and more armed to face the future.
If I didn’t have the chance to meet this doctor today and to listen to those two simple words, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now.
He gave me the strength to talk about it and take my life in charge.
I bought the supplements I needed, had a sincere conversation with my husband who also felt relieved to acknowledge the syndrome I’ve been suffering of and also I was able to look at my daughter with more hope for our future.
I hope you will too. And if you are not concerned, be able to recognize a burnout mum and help her see things more clearly.