Ever heard of Active Burnout? No? That’s because I just made it up.
It’s the only way I think I can describe this current phase of life that I’m finding myself in.
Let me explain…
You know when you’re busy right? And then something else comes up, someone else needs you, another bill comes in, another kid needs an appointment (or 5), your partner needs help with work, your baby starts teething again, there is something on at one child’s school, and then the other child’s school, and then there’s another camp, a production, dress up day, parent/teacher interviews… and somehow it all falls to you to solve it.
...and then you start to notice you’re late for school for the 50th time, the washing piles up, there’s no food in the house, you haven’t responded to a message that was urgent, an unpaid bill goes unpaid again, there’s birthday balloons still up from a month ago, there’s bags of things near the front door that you have to return but can’t find the receipt anymore, and you realise at 3pm while sitting in the pick-up line that your kid missed out on the Father’s Day stall at school because you forgot to give them money.
Those are the lists urgently flying around in your head,
like the letters for Hogwarts flying through the Dursley’s house.
The lists are things you have to do or have forgotten to do. But then there are the lists of thigs you start to tell yourself…
…you’re so unorganised, how embarrassing being late for school AGAIN, nobody will take me seriously if I can’t even respond to a message like I said I would, how did I ever think I could make this work? I’m letting everyone down, my kids must think I’m neurotic, people must think I’m whinging if I speak up, other people seem to make it all work so why can’t I? why do I bother?
And while I’m at it...man I’ve never been so overweight, I can’t even think of trying to exercise, my clothes don’t fit properly, I never get to spend time with friends, am I not being a good wife? …
Over time, this starts having a big impact on your body & mind.
You’ll notice you’re more tired, you snap more quickly, you find yourself staring into space a lot, you procrastinate because where on earth do you start? You can jumble your words, forget what you’re saying mid-sentence or forget why you called someone. You can eat more or don’t eat at all, you can start obsessing over something completely unrelated to everything else like finding the perfect side table for your couch (which isn’t completely unrelated because you could at least be able to tidy the room up properly with better storage or have your coffee up higher so the baby can’t reach it).
See what I mean?
You’re burnt out but you have ZERO time to stop. You’re in ACTIVE BURNOUT. You can think about how burnt out you are and how you’re going to crash soon but you can’t stop or slow down even if you wanted to, even when your body is showing you signs that you need to!
Someone tell me I’m not the only one because otherwise I really will feel like maybe I’m just neurotic (lol).
So how do we get out of it? I find often in times like this, something else happens to force you to stop and slow down. For us, this time, we have had a trip to the hospital in an ambulance and now a whole house full of sickies! Even if I wanted to do things, I have been forced to stay home, say no to things and slow down. Which, although it sort of adds a different level of stress, has at least given me time to think a little bit.
But how do we get out of it when we aren’t forced out of it? I am learning now that it involves learning new habits. I don’t have the answer exactly but I am thinking my plan right now involves creating a weekly schedule of the essentials that have to happen on each day, that way I can clearly see when I can try to fit in extra things but the main things have time allocated to them. Then I think my body is telling me that it needs help. So, my plan for that is to start to do some Pilates or similar relaxation and gentle exercise I can do from home for now and to schedule in a walk outside at least a couple of times a week.
It may not seem like much for now but it’s really all my brain can handle! Small steps are better than no steps, right?!
If you’re reading this and you can see yourself in my shoes, we need to be friends! If you’re reading this and you know me and are of the opinion that I look like I have my shit together, thank you for thinking that, but it’s not true lol.
I can tell you to make sure you slow down and speak up when you need help, which is all completely true, but you may also just need to ride the wave and put some effort in to learning some new habits to help prevent this from happening.
But at least you’ll be riding it knowing you’re not the only one who feels like they have lost their mind and we can learn some new ways of coping together.