The subject of ‘caregiver burnout’ seems to be a hot topic currently; in my humble opinion, it is a rare individual who is a fulltime carer who isn’t running on empty most of the time. And thanks to the pandemic, the vast majority if not all of us are way beyond what would typically be thought of as burnout.
I can only speak about how it affects me, other carers/parents may recognise some or even all of these symptoms, and I am certain there are many, many more.
Constant headache, mood swings, holding it together (just) until alone in the dark when my mind can wander to those darker corners where my greatest fears lurk… what if tonight is the night we lose him? What if he catches covid? Fears I’m not doing enough; not enough therapy, not enough playtime. Splitting my day between full-time working and full-time caring is becoming unbearable; I feel that I’m failing as a mother and as an employee. I can’t think straight, struggle to make decisions and just want someone, ANYONE, to take over so I can finally just sleep and rest.
And I’m not having to do this alone either – my husband (Sams Daddy) deals with Sam’s meds, feeds and does his best to entertain the little chap while I face down exhaustion/worry/guilt that I’m not doing more and try to get as much work done as possible. All the while on seizure watch. There are parents out there doing this entirely on their own.
If any are reading this, know that I am in awe of you and that you are not alone.
This is no magic wand, supplement or piece of advice to get any of us through this pandemic and the burnout we’re experiencing; it’s like hanging onto the end of a knotted rope hanging over the abyss. All any of us can do is just hang on to that knot for dear life.
For us, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel and that is that school restarted. Sam’s school is only small, the staff have done everything humanly possible to ensure the children are going to be safe, and social distancing isn’t a problem. He needs to get back to his friends and his routine. His seizures have been horrific over lockdown due to the disruption in routine and boredom; I’m as nervous as when it was his first ever day at school, but I know he needs this. And so do I.