Beware of Caregiver Burn-out!

By Janie Smith, Author and Founder HOPE BEYOND TRAUMA

Burn-out can happen to anyone whether you are a caregiver, survivor, parent, highly successful business man or woman, combat veteran, military spouse, student… Let me put it this way, if you are living and breathing you are susceptible to burn-out.

Burn-out is allowing your energy resources to be drained from you without replenishing its supply by taking care of yourself. It is necessary to honor your own being in giving yourself the highest priority of care. It’s not putting yourself on the list, putting everything above your own needs. Women are nurturers by nature; we want and feel like we need to take care of everybody else first.

Burn-out is usually a gradual process of stresses mounting over a period of time. Some of the signs of burn-out may include: lack of energy, loss of interest in your favorite activities and routines, wanting to isolate from social events, feeling sluggish, depressed, overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless and all alone. You may want to quit give-up and have suicidal thoughts.

Suicidal thoughts are far more common than not, it’s very under reported because we don’t want to think that we have really pushed ourselves beyond our limits. We want to believe we can handle whatever comes our way.

All of these have happened to me and these extreme thoughts have gone through my head at various stages of my life. Sometimes I believed there was no glimmer of hope anywhere for me. I never confided in anyone about these deep dark feelings because I was ashamed and fearful of what people would think of me. Falling into the bowels of hell during the worst times in my life, trying to claw my way out of despair is not an easy process. Eventually, I had a nervous breakdown and ended up in the hospital. Why didn’t I quit, give up or commit suicide?

Focusing on what would happen to my kids was the only thing that kept me going because I was deeply committed to them. I believed my husband could easily find another wife and live a much better life without me. I managed to work my way out one very small step at a time, moving forward and sliding backward a lot. It wasn’t easy (a huge understatement) even with my strong faith and spiritual practices.

There were times I doubted my faith. Why did I have these difficult issues when others seemed to fly through life with ease? My mother use to say, “Oh, that family doesn’t have any problems.” So I grew up thinking that was true. It took some years for me to understand this perspective was so far from reality.

The reality is that everyone has challenges, issues and trauma both great and small to fight through, jump over or even avoid. Each of us is given challenges to overcome to help us grow and stretch. To mature and find out how much strength we really have.

There is a well-known saying that states, “God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle,”  I believed that until I heard a man speak stating that he believed we ARE given more than we can handle so that we will reach out to others, God, a higher power, the universe for help. There is a power much stronger than us to help us on our journey.  Whether it’s reaching out, reaching up or reaching deep within ourselves, there is help along the way.

Reaching out to nature, family, friends, support groups that understand your specific needs, your church, professionals, reading inspirational books, researching the internet are places where you may find help. Releasing stress by breathing deeply and letting the stress go can be of great benefit.

It is critical to clear out the negative thinking that can cloud the beauty of your own precious soul. It’s paramount to forgive yourself of your short comings, faults and failures. Then, it’s time to open you heart and allow all the love of the universe to flood your soul so you can move forward and fulfill your special purpose.

So many times we carry burdens that need to be let go. The past is done; make your amends forgive yourself and others. Live in the present, the only part of the day we have any control. The future hasn’t happened so worrying about it isn’t going to help. Living in this very moment, doing our best in that moment is the only way we can change our destiny.

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