For this post I’ve decided to share with you something that I’ve experienced, and quite honestly, continue to experience. It’s called mommy burnout.
The transition from a full time working mom to a full time stay at home mom was at first an easy one. I was busy with an infant, and loved all the extra time I got to spend with my older children. Housework was done in a timely manner, I got to cook homemade meals, and didn’t have to worry about getting up and running to my office. I’d say the first 12 months were great. I was class mom for two of my girls, on the PTA board, hanging out with friends when our kids were home, and even fit in a series or two on Netflix. Then came last summer. The baby began walking…..well she actually went directly to running…..and baby proofing came along with that. We no longer were content just sitting on a blanket playing with blocks lol. Then came the diagnosis of my middle daughter’s speech delay. She started seeing a speech pathologist twice per week, and each session was a struggle just to get her there and back. Her tantrums didn’t end there- she’d freak out at the slightest little thing if it wasn’t done her way. My eldest daughter has always been a voice of reason- so sweet, calm, collected……andddd then she turned 7. I don’t know what it was, but it’s like the second her birthday came, so did a huge attitude adjustment. She continues to be my bright little sweetheart, but constantly has something to say about everything- especially when it involves her middle sister. In the past 6 months my two eldest transitioned from constantly playing together to constantly fighting. Oh and did I mention that all my kids hate sleeping? I’m serious. The baby (who’s 19 months now) barely naps, my 4 year old hasn’t napped in years, and of course my 7 year old doesn’t. Even at night, despite having everyone ready for bed at 7:30, they usually are up till around 9pm and then wake up at 6:30 the following morning.
I know it sounds a lot like I’m just running off a list of complaints, but I’m simply trying to paint the picture of what it was like. Add in my hubby working 12-14 hour days and mommy eliminating regular time with friends & exercise. When you take all that stuff, multiply it by life’s everyday stressors (ie: money, health issues, family drama) you end up with something called mommy burnout. Or in my case, an extremely bad case of anxiety and panic. I should have seen it coming. I was too calm and collected for too long. Then one day I woke up and just didn’t feel like myself. I felt terrified. Of everything- and nothing all at once. The physical and mental disturbance is unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. All I can say is that I should have taken more time to focus on myself, but I didn’t. I thought I could be super mom, super wife, super friend, super daughter, and super everything to everyone 24 /7. When I fell apart, very few people knew- only my husband and a couple close friends. And when I say “fell apart” I mean I was plagued with constant anxiety, panic attacks, and stomach problems. I wasn’t stuck in a padded room if that’s what you’re thinking, but I can tell you that I all of a sudden was afraid to go to the grocery store or bring my child to the park- for the fear of having a bad episode of anxiety or a panic attack.
Although it was extremely tough for me, I went to see a therapist and psychiatrist. Honestly, it took me 2 months of suffering every day, losing 10 lbs, feeling shitty about myself and my abilities before I bit the bullet and went. I was afraid of what others would think about me, and honestly, what I would think of myself. I didn’t want people to see me as some nut job who can’t function without meds, and I didn’t want to have to explain to a stranger why I all of a sudden was terrified of everything, although in my mind I knew it was irrational.
But, I went. I saw both professionals. I even switched my dr after seeing one guy that I didn’t really like. And you know what they both said: everything I’m experiencing is normal. I mean sure, I clearly have an anxiety disorder, that much is clear, but no I’m not crazy, I’m not a bad mom or wife or friend. They explained to me that I was having a very physical, real reaction to stress. I felt a little better hearing that, but still wasn’t 100% on the “med train”. After seeing both drs, it took me another month before I brought myself to try medication. I also began practicing yoga regularly and trying to get out in nature as much as possible. I won’t lie- the road from there has been rough and rocky- just when I would begin to feel great I would have a stressful event and then take 2 steps back. In fact, I’m there right now. The past month I felt amazing, I was really almost back to myself. Then I woke up last Saturday in panic mode. I’ve been in an anxious state for the past 6 days. Saw my therapist today and she did point out all of the big events and stressors that have evolved over the recent weeks. I also haven’t been to yoga in 2 months or gotten outside due to the blizzards.
All excuses aside, I’ll admit that every day is a struggle. Some are just easier than others. Through the support of my amazing family, friends, drs, and faith- I’m trying my best to bounce back from my mommy burnout. My advice to anyone else who may find themself in this situation, or one similar, is to make yourself a priority. It’s so much easier said than done, trust me, I know. But, when mommy isn’t feeling well, the whole house won’t be either. You, like me, are a strong, beautiful woman with goals, passions, and dreams. You don’t have to lose sight of those dreams just because you became a mom- your plan on reaching them may just have to be rerouted.
I want to end this post by letting anyone out there reading this that if you need someone to listen, I’m always here. Even if we don’t know each other- you don’t have to struggle alone. Stress, Mom Guilt, Lack of sleep, Anxiety, Depression…..they are all unfortunately very prevalent among today’s moms. Burnout isn’t fun and if you feel like you’re on the edge or just need someone to vent to- go ahead and do it. Or take the time to drop the kids off at the babysitter and get your hair done. Go to the spa every once in a while. Or, simply try your best to take 5 minutes to yourself to read a book. Whatever makes your heart sing and your mind clear.
Best Wishes and Happy International Women’s Day