Tag Archives: exhaustion

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Boundaries & Burnout

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqh8e2KYIrU&rel=0]

The above video is of flight attendants on a flight from the Philippines. They have a very creative approach to help their passengers pay attention to the safety measures one needs to know while flying. At 1:38, you hear the voice making the safety announcements begin to say, “If you are traveling with a child, first put on your own mask and then your child’s mask.” All too often we find ourselves, as mothers and women, caring for everyone around us except the one person who matters the most – ourselves.

For quite awhile, my three year old had an infatuation with The Velveteen Rabbit Story. He wanted us to read it to him at nap time and bedtime. So we did. In reading this story to him, there was one section of the tale which truly epitomizes the lengths to which we go as mothers to please our children and those around us. Rain suddenly started falling and the little boy in the story had to rush inside after playing out in the yard. In his hurry, he forgot the Velveteen Rabbit. The little boy goes on with his afternoon and does not realize the Velveteen Rabbit is missing until it is time to go to bed. As his mother tucks him in, the little boy asks for the Velveteen Rabbit. In our version, the mother gets a flashlight and goes outside to fetch the lost rabbit. After searching in the rain, she returns with the drenched Velveteen Rabbit, handing him to her son. The boy is happy as he clutches the soaked toy close to him and quickly drifts off to sleep. The official version of the story reads like this:

And once, when the Boy was called away suddenly to go out to tea, the Rabbit was left out on the lawn until long after dusk, and Nana had to come and look for him with the candle because the Boy couldn’t go to sleep unless he was there.

He was wet through with the dew and quite earthy from diving into the burrows the Boy had made for him in the flower bed, and Nana grumbled as she rubbed him off with a corner of her apron.

I admit, I will search down a toy for my child. But to go out into the rain with a flashlight or a candle? Not in this house. There is a line I refuse to cross.

Yes, it is our job to care for our children. It’s our responsibility to ensure they have the basic necessities of life and feel comforted. It is also our responsibility to ensure that the care we give them is of the highest quality. If we consistently drain ourselves day in and day out, we have nothing to give to ourselves those around us. Our children deserve more than fumes. Our husband deserve more than fumes. And our friends deserve more than fumes. Above all else, WE deserve more than fumes.

This week’s #PPDChat was about Putting on your oxygen mask before putting on someone else’s. While helping others through their pain is helpful and allows a great distraction, it can also be draining. You may be more on edge, more likely to over-react if there is a crisis, and more likely to put that person before your own needs. There are fine lines which need to be respected, lines which need to stay firmly planted between you and others as you heal. It is important to be able to step back from the issue at hand and soothe yourself. Recognizing when you need to do this is hard to do if you are running on fumes.

According to help.org, you may be on the road to burnout if:

  • Every day is a bad day.
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
  • You’re exhausted all the time.
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

They recommend using the “Three R” method to cope with burnout:

  • Recognize – Watch for the warning signs of burnout
  • Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support
  • Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health

Down the page, they also examine stress v. burnout. Definitely worth checking out.

I impose boundaries on myself. Some of them should probably be stricter and I am working on that. In order to preserve my own mental health these are the things I currently do:

  • Take a mandatory nap on Sundays (Although I skipped this past Sunday’s nap – first one in ages)
  • Go to sleep early if I’ve had a rough day
  • Listen to music
  • Eat Chocolate
  • Turn off my computer when my kids get home from school until they go to bed
  • Don’t watch newscasts
  • Say NO if it’s going to overload my plate
  • Watch a lot of comedy
  • Laugh
  • Love

I have even been known to put myself in time out with my kids in the room if I am getting too on edge with them. I have started asking myself if I am upset with them because they’ve been doing things I’ve asked them not to or because I’m being selfish and doing something I want to do and instead, ignoring them when they legitimately deserve my attention. I’ve been amazed and shamed at how often it’s because I’m selfishly taking time to myself when they genuinely need me to help them with something. As I’ve been closing my laptop and leaving Social Media behind when the kids are home and awake, these times have decreased and our relationships have been soaring. I’m glad to be plugging back into what really matters – my family.

Do you have boundaries you refuse to cross? Things you do to recharge your batteries? What are they? Let’s get to just talking.

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The Insanity of Sickness & Christmas

Oh how it royally bites to be sick on a holiday. Especially when you’re the one cooking THE MEAL and it’s your first time at the helm for such a big event. I somehow managed to hold it all together and pulled off an awesome Christmas Lunch of (get this) Roast Beef Tenderloin with Beef Mushroom Sauce, Carrot Souffle, Green Bean Bundles, Creamed Corn, and Yorkshire Pudding. I baked a Scripture Cake the night before in honor of the man of the day, Jesus.

Yet once I stopped moving frantically about in the kitchen and sat down, my body realized the rush was over and apparently gave itself permission to implode.

My left hip? Out of alignment for the better part of the afternoon and evening. Only heat and a whopping dose of Tylenol and Ibuprofen cleared that up. And thank goodness it did because I was unable to bear weight on my left side without almost collapsing and crying outloud.

My head and chest? Obscenely Congested. Tylenol Cold did nothing for me. Ended up making a Walgreens run at 10p last night for myself and for Cameron. I got Severe Cold Meds and Nasal Spray. He got a little Flowing Vapors desk thingy by Triaminic. (Have I mentioned Charlotte’s sick too?)

All of this started last Friday when Alli was coughing slightly. The cough got worse and by Sunday evening I was at the ER with her. First thing I did when we got ushered back to a room? Turned on the NY Giants game! (Thank GOD they won!) She had to get a strep swab, flu swab (which is a nasal swab and not an easy thing to watch), take some ibuprofen and tylenol, get some chest x-rays, get said x-rays done again, and finally ended up with a diagnosis of Possible Pneumonia. She was given antibiotics there and we were sent home with a prescription. Half an hour after she took the antibiotics she threw up. Repeated this again in the morning when we tried to give Motrin. Off to the ped’s office with a feverish uncooperative toddler in tow.

Much of this past week has been spent in a headlock with Alli to get her to take her meds and trying to conserve the tissue use because her nose has been running a freakishly long marathon. We’re all coughing (except for Chris) and today has found me in bed for the better part of it – I’ve been awake a couple of times but not very long. I’m due to take some more medicine here shortly (I think – how bad is that!) and am ready to crawl back into bed and rest. I just can’t take being awake anymore. My head is pouding, my voice has apparently bought the last ticket to Clarksville, and this cough and congestion is driving me insane.

And for the record, Chris has been absolutely awesome today. He’s really taken the reigns and let me pass out. I can’t even begin to express how much that has meant to me!

So forgive me if I haven’t posted much the past week or don’t post much for the next few days. I’m taking my own advice and doing some much needed self-care.

A Peek into the Darkness

Instead of posting an interview today, I want to share a piece of me with you. Yes, I know I’ve been doing that already but this is deeper and darker. You see, I found my journal from my first Postpartum experience. I shared a brief piece of this with a mom who contacted me the other day and it resonated so strongly with her and made me realize I need to share this openly. Keep in mind that I sought and was refused help at the three month mark – the first entry I share is from her 3 month birthday. So here goes.

July 26, 2004

Today is Allison’s 3 month birthday. I can’t believe we’ve made it 3 months. 1/4 of the way to a year. I’m still exclusively breastfeeding her. I’ve had to give her formula twice – once, the night she came home because she just wouldn’t take the breast, the second time she was being extremely fussy and wouldn’t eat. I couldn’t let my baby starve.

Wow. 3 months of life with a baby. And I am still feeling like I’ve been hit over the head with a frying pan. Sure there are glorious glimpses of normalcy and happiness but mostly I stare at the clutter, worry about our bills, get upset at the dogs for waiting until Alli has latched on to let me know they need to go O-U-T and they gotta go NOW. And Chris has had this kidney stone problem since she was about a month old. That’s been fun. He’ll be having surgery on Wednesday so now I’m worrying about that bill too.

In case you can’t tell, today was one of those days. I called my mom this morning. She answers the phone and asks if she can call me back. But the way she asks sounds like she’s crying. So I freak out and think something horrid has happened to my kid brother who’s in jail. Turns out it was just a laugh that I misinterpreted.

Then later today I’ve attempted to put Alli in her crib for a nap but she’s not napping – no – she’s screaming. And Chris flippantly comments (and I quote) “Geez, you’d think someone was killing her!” THANKS! I’m already having a hard enough time listening to her cry and now you go and put the very image I struggle every day to keep out at the very forefront of my mind. I rush through the rest of the dishes and go to comfort my crying daughter. She did eventually nap – in her swing for about 30 minutes. It gave me enough time to get caught up with Thank You notes. I had gotten just a little behind. Now we just need stamps. Gotta wait until we have a spare $7.40 though. Maybe next week.

Allison did get a couple of presents in the mail today. She got a cute little outfit from her great-aunt’s friend and two books from my deceased step-mother’s sister. There was a very touching note in the card stating that Grandpa Cam & Grandma Helen would have loved having a great grandaughter. I’m sure they know. This little girl has quite an army of angels looking out for her.

My hand is hurting from writing so much. I’d better go. Don’t know how much longer I’ll be awake for. I’m exhausted and my neck & shoulders are killing me. I’ll write again when I can. Thanks for listening.

July 30, 2004

I put my underwear on inside out this morning. Should have paid attention to that sign. It was a really shitty day emotionally. Alli and I did just fine for the most part – until lunch. We met Chris’ parents at Golden Dragon – and Greg & Cindy were there. GRRRRR. I was not in social butterfly mode and really not up to faking it. We sat down and then Mom offered to watch Alli while we got our food. I came back, set my blate down and went to get some soup. Mom’s sitting there talking to some friend of the family in my seat and doesn’t move so I can sit down and friggin eat. So she finally moves and I sit down. Of course Alli immediately starts to fuss and I have to soothe her with my right hand and try to eat with my left. ARGH. She got fussier and fussier. I had to leave after about 4 forkfuls. So I drive her home (she of course, FALLS ASLEEP halfway home) On the way home I was both relieved and pissed off. Relieved because she saved me from having to be social; pissed off because I didn’t get to eat. She woke up as soon as we got home and I fed her. Called my mom and cried. I was/am so completely emotionally exhausted that the prospect of a busy afternoon was absolutely overwhelming. Oh, and the doctor’s office called to reschedule my appt yet again on monday with the psychologist. So  told them that I just wanted to cancel the appt. Obviously they aren’t a reliable source of help for this sort of thing.

After I finished feeding Alli, Grandmama showed up. Once Chris and Mom got home, I just collasped. I ate, then I came into the bedroom and layed down.  I remember staring at the wall – just laying there trying to feel something – anything. I didn’t even go say goodbye to Grandmama. I didn’t have the strength. I think Chris is really starting realize how much of a toll all of this is taking on me. He let me sleep from 3-345p and then Alli needed to nurse.

The good part of this day was that once we put Alli to bed, we went and saw Spiderman II with Greg & Cindy. Was nice to get out and do something with other adults, even if it was just sitting in a dark theatre and watching a movie.

Chris is asleep next to me at the moment and our legs are intertwined. Well, they were. He just moved. I love him so much. I hate that he has to see me go through this but I’m also glad he’s the one I’m with – I know he will do anything to help and I really need that right now.

I’m pretty tired and my back and neck are still pretty sore. I better go to sleep – it’s the only time I don’t feel the pain.

Exhaustion

In the past six weeks, we have all been sick.

Two trips to the hospital (with two different kids for two entirely different reasons), one rushed trip to the pediatrician due to a seriously swollen and red bug bite, a head cold that won’t quit for all of us girls, and that’s just all the stuff besides normal every day life.

I’m tired.

In fact, I’ve gone to bed before eight pm twice this week. Yes, twice. This week. And it just started!

The house is a wreck.

Days are crazy again due to the whole one vehicle thing – my schedule is insane. I feel like I should just set up shop in the car. I’m up and out the door by 715 every morning (this means waking up at 530 so I can have the girls showered, fed, and dressed) to take Alli to school – then home. Chris gets ready for work and then we pack Charlotte and Cameron up around 9 and take him to work. Then home. Then lunch and nap. Up and out the door by 215 to go pick up Alli. Then home for an hour and a half and then off with all three kids to pick up Chris. No wonder I’m asleep before my head even hits the pillow most nights.

I’m not resentful at all – this is just what we have to do right now so we do it. Life is so full of everyday challenges. If it wasn’t, I’d be bored. We’d all be bored without the daily drama regardless of how much we may moan about it.

Hopefully we’ll get the other truck working soon. We think the starter needs to be replaced but man that’ll be nice.

Another nice thing is the falling gas prices. I never thought I’d be ready to throw a party just because gas is actually less than three dollars/gallon.

Rainy Days

Today was one of those dreary rainy days complete with darkened gray skies, thunder, and lightning.

We arose with the intention of going to church but alas, we did not make it. Charlotte had a minor issue with diarrhea and ended up having to pop in the shower twice this morning prior to us even getting them ready. We had also run out of formula for Cameron and did not have enough to give him his morning bottle. By this time it was 9a and we would have to be out the door to go to church by 945. This would have included getting dressed, getting Cameron some formula, and Chris getting a shower. Just wasn’t going to happen. So we stayed home and listened to our pastor on the radio through the screams and squeals of toddlers and the babbles of Cameron. (Translation: We didn’t hear much!)

The rest of the day was pretty much a wash – neither Chris nor myself could keep our eyes open long enough for it to count for anything and of course, the thunderstorm started right as we would have been putting the girls down for nap. Chris and the girls curled up in the recliner in the living room as I gave Cameron a bottle. Once he was done, I put him down for a nap of his own in his crib, returning to the living room for one of my own. I curled up on the couch and quickly fell asleep only to be roused awake by Alli shouting MOMMY! at me a short while later.

It’s nearly 1030p here and I am exhausted. I also seem to have caught a nasty case of the blahs. Perhaps some serious rest will cure me. Off to bed with me….tomorrow is a new day and I intend to make it a good one.

Even the best laid plans

Goodness it just has NOT been the week to get things done with my PPD stuff.

Between the girls waking up at the crack of dawn, Cameron waking at least twice a night (not last night though – here’s to hoping!) and brilliant me deciding to try and switch OS’s on Monday, it has been the worst work week ever. I’ve been trying to enjoy my forced “vacation” but with the kids running circles around me, it hasn’t exactly been easy. Today has been a smidge better – still fell asleep with the kids in the living room. It doesn’t appear that anything needs immediate surgery or attention so I think I’m good.

On a more positive note, I did get a topic down for the Maternity Fair I’ll be presenting at in August. The topic title needs a bit more work (ie, shorten it up!) but here’s the working title: Not Just a Mom Thing: A Family Centered Approach to Postpartum Mood Disorder Prevention & Recovery. Yeah, wordy, I know. But whaddya want from a sleep deprived mom?

On a more serious note, this sleep deprivation thing is running me ragged. I’m totally exhausted all the time and nothing I do seems to help. I need some serious sleep. SERIOUS sleep. Did I mention SERIOUS sleep???? Ahhh. I think it will be awhile until I get some though. I’ve been napping the past few days – not so much because I don’t have anything better to do but because I simply can’t help it.

So forgive me if things get a little random for a few days. I am recovering from the previously posted Hurricane – we seem to keep getting mini tropical after storms and they’re wearing me thin.