One of the biggest issues caregivers face is burnout: a state of exhaustion which can be mental or physical. Many of us are in the throes of burnout and don’t even think about it. We are so used to the exhaustion that we take it for the “new normal.” Helpguide.org reports that 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. The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life – including your home and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu.”
Parents of children with Type 1 diabetes are extremely susceptible to burnout due to sleep deprivation and constant worry. While T1 is a disease that can be successfully managed, parents of CWD feel great pressure to keep their kids safe, to get achieve good blood glucose numbers, to have tight control over the disease. And we parents often put our own needs on the back burner. Our relationships with our spouses/partners can suffer and also our relationships with our other children. But what are we to do? The reality is that Type 1 is a 24/7 disesase and depending on the age of the child with T1, the parent’s job is also 24/7.
According to Helpguide.org, we need to remember the 3R’s:
- 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
I admit that I am exhausted most days. I try to go back to bed after my T1 goes to school so I can get at least a couple hours more sleep…but that disrupts my day and prevents me from accomplishing as much as I would like. But I think a rested mom is better than a spic and span house. I try to schedule one big chore per day to spread out the tasks–but life often gets in the way. I also try to do things I enjoy–crafts, reading etc. when I can.
My husband and I try to carve out small units of time together. It may be a simple as driving together to get gas and leaving our son to watch over his T1 sister or we just sit on the porch, drink in hand, and talk for 15 minutes.
My non-D son and I are trying to play Scrabble together a few times a week so that he get positive attention from me. One thing we have always done occurs when one child is out with friends–we take the other child out for time alone with both parents.
And my greatest anti-burnout tool has been the DOC. Some days, I probably spend too much time interacting on-line with other D-mamas, but it is cheaper than therapy! I do not know what I would do without the friendships and connections I have made in the DOC.