My Journey to Burnout: Proof That I Really Can't Do It All

My Journey to Burnout: Proof That I Really Can’t Do It All

burnt couch in woods

Burnout. It’s a word that highly ambitious and driven people like myself often think that we are immune to.

I have struggled with over-achieving and perfectionism for almost as long as I can remember. At the tender age of 12, I worked a steady babysitting job every morning and after school, while balancing schoolwork, private music lessons, city orchestra and serving in my church. Even in my 3rd and 4th years of university, I maintained a very full course load with a high GPA, volunteered at church, took on heavy leadership roles on campus, and worked significant part-time hours.

It’s never really occurred to me to slow down much. Having a baby was a bit of a shocker, as I sought to coordinate caring for a baby, home and husband when I’d never really learned how. But I just added that to my list of things to learn to do, and continued on busily… it’s what I had always done.

For reasons I can’t explain, I have always struggled with setting limits for myself and taking on too much. Friends frequently tell me that they get tired just thinking about all of the things I try to do. Oddly enough, I haven’t always found it tiring, but rather invigorating. Until this year.

Beginning with the birth of my youngest child in August 2009, I began a slow and steady downward descent. Never really resting after the birth, I started writing my book Real Food on a Real Budget a mere 6 days after she was born. Preserving and canning season hit, we walked with some friends through a season of difficulty, and then I was knocked out by a crazy throat infection and time in the hospital. Shortly after the busy holiday season, my husband’s health issues worsened and he spent time in the hospital, and we lost two family members to cancer. Pushing on, I made plans to publish my book that spring, launch a second website, and attend a blog conference, all while preparing to move to a new home, accept homestay students and keep up with gardening in two places.

All these years of pushing myself too hard, then that long year of stress after stress after stress. I broke. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.

Despair began to set in. So did anger. And frustration. And impatience. And then depression.

My Journey to Burnout: Proof That I Really Can't Do It All

Image by misteraitch

Wearing the Mask of “I’m Fine”

My sleep began to get more patchy and the struggles with insomnia increased. The tiredness left me more drained than I had ever felt in my life. I was hardly functioning. My brain was in a permanent fog. I was starting to feel like I was losing it and honestly, it wasn’t pretty.

Still, I tried to keep up with things, only somewhat admitting that things were bad. Maybe I just need a better schedule, more self-discipline, more help around the house. I kept running both of my websites in such a way that most people probably never even guessed that I was struggling, except for the small things that I said here and there. Even many who knew me in real life only saw the phoney facade I put on, trying to pretend that all was well, although those closest to me knew better.

I stopped cooking like I usually do and dropped our style of eating down to survival mode for lack of time and energy. I did the bare minimum house cleaning, tried to simply keep the mess to a minimum, and we often pulled clean laundry out of baskets instead of drawers. I insanely still did almost all of the summer preserving that I had planned on doing, telling myself that I had to do it, tired or not.

I still couldn’t keep up with everything on my plate, but I tried. Even as I struggled, I pushed myself, and pushed myself, and then pushed myself some more.

The Ugly Truth

I had pushed myself beyond my physical and emotional limits. Some circumstances were beyond my control, and others were due to my pride and my own desperate attempts to keep up with everything else that I told myself I needed to do. I was spiritually dry. I was not healthy and I was not coping with the everyday aspects of daily life, and I knew it.

I once read that good health is having the ability to do all of your regular, necessary activities, and enough reserves that you could temporarily cope with emergency or challenging situations. I had neither.

Through the stress (physical and emotional), the lack of sleep, a growing dependence on sugar and caffeine (things that I used to be able to say no to), and never allowing myself to actually just stop and be still, I led myself straight into what seems to be a fairly textbook case of adrenal fatigue, where your adrenal glands are drained and have nothing left to give your body because they have been over-stimulated due to stress, diet and other lifestyle and environmental factors.

burning candle

Image by pasukaru76

Does This Sound Familiar to You?

Perhaps it’s not business endeavors, but rather homeschooling planning, remodelling projects, overcommitment in church activities (yes, even serving others), or trying too hard to be the perfect mom and homemaker, that keeps you burning the candle at both ends and pushing yourself past what you can or should really be doing. Add in to that real life circumstances and challenges, like new babies or pregnancy, moving, job loss, financial difficulty, relational strain, serious illness, loss of loved ones and more (the things that you can’t help or avoid), and it simply becomes too much.

A dear friend has been reminding me often of the need for margin in my life. I was too busy trying to squeeze everything into an unattainable, overloaded schedule, let alone planning for extra margin and time to deal with life’s unexpected interruptions, sorrow and grief, or even needed times of relaxation and enjoyment with friends and family.

In various ways, both my husband and I realized over the course of this fall that it simply had to stop, for my own health and sanity, and for the sake of our family. We began making plans to cut back on my commitments, lighten my schedule, and allow me the margin I need to get back to health.

As of this month, our exit plan is taking full effect with me letting go of my second website (Saving Naturally) to new ownership, and reworking my schedule to allow for rest, recuperation and a return to doing things that bring me life and joy. I have plans to spend extra quality time with our family, to get us back onto the GAPS diet to address our current health concerns, to work a whole lot less, gradually get back into a regular routine (including consistent time with the Lord) and to otherwise not do much of anything beyond the basics.

busy schedule

Image by flik

Question to Ask Yourself

(some of which are taken from the book Tired of Being Tired, an excellent read for anyone who believes they may be suffering from adrenal fatigue)

  • Do I blow past my own fatigue to finish the day’s work?
  • Am I working at my full capacity, or do I feel slowed down, sluggish, foggy and generally tired?
  • Is my schedule realistic or am I trying to cram more into a day than I can actually accomplish?
  • Do I tend to have higher expectations of myself than others have of me?
  • Do I often feel compelled to only do work, but not allow myself times of fun or relaxation?
  • Do I regularly put more on my to-do list than I could ever actually achieve (and then proceed to feel guilty about it)?
  • Am I using stimulants (coffee, sugar, etc.) to try to push my body past its limits?
  • Do I lay awake at night, thinking of the things I need to do?
  • Am I easily irritated at my family or others, even when they haven’t really done anything wrong?
  • Do I feel anxious? Depressed? Angry? Hopeless?
  • Has my time with God gone by the wayside, as I declare “I don’t have time“, while I frantically work away at everything else on my to-do list?

The point of these questions is to help you assess your own life, your heart and your health. Are there things that you need to let go of? Have you gotten to a place of burnout? And are you seeing the negative effects in your family, your home, your other relationship, your walk with the Lord?

This month at Keeper of the Home (and possibly extending even into February) our main topic will be general wellness and the delicate balance of maintaining good health. We’ll look at getting quality sleep, how to include exercise in your days, what adrenal fatigue is and how to deal with it, the huge topic of depression (from both a spiritual perspective, as well as natural treatments and helps), a panel discussion on burnout and fatigue, and much more.

How would you answer some of those questions? Is the topic of burnout and fatigue one that resonates with you?

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  1. Stephanie, You’ve been such a support to me – even though you probably don’t even know it.
    I wish you all the best and know that you are absolutely doing the right thing. It is so important to be well and to know when it is time to take care of yourself.

  2. Been there, done that! Give yourself lots of time, Stephanie, and enjoy learning to do what God requires, not what we push ourselves to do. There is life and productivity and joy on the other side, but being realistic about time commitments is a never-ending struggle, at least for me.


    Annie Kate

    1. @Annie Kate, I’m writing down that quote “do what God requires, not what we push ourselves to do” and keeping it with my inspirational/encouraging quotes. (I have q cards in an index box with those on it) So true!

  3. Your story is like looking in the mirror.All of my “sickness” started with the birth of my 3rd and last child. he cried, I cried,He cried, I cried. Then I had major surgery for my stomach they cut the vagus nerves in my stomach, and I have blamed this surgery 17 years ago for my nervousness. my husband and I went off on a vacation to the mountains and I could eat anything, not much pain, but the day we were coming home, pain was not the word. i would love to read your book .My naturl dr tested my adrenals, by a saliva test and she said i have seen a 2 but never a 1.Is there a way to re-build adrenals? Thankyou, Diane Robinson, Ashburn Ga

  4. Oh honey! I am so glad you’ve been able to scale back and get well. I haven’t hit rock bottom, but I do understand very well what you’re describing. I tend to shut down when I’ve been doing to much. I’ll sleep a lot and get back on track. Plus I pushed myself to fatigue with poor diet for many years, and I’m just now getting healthy.

    I’m looking forward to your wellness posts. I think we all can probably stand to improve our lifestyles so that we can do all that we need to do.

  5. Amen. With a few detail changes, this article could have been written by me. I am grateful to know that you did not sink as low as I did before waking up. I really am “fine” now, but learned, as you are, the hard way. We just must not run faster than we have strength. I had to learn that I don’t have to save myself. I can’t. No one can save themselves! There is no way to be “good enough.” Our Lord and Savior will do what He promised. Bless you. Keep remembering. The impulse to take on everything does not go away! 🙂

  6. I’m so proud of you Stephanie. I’ve been praying for you as I knew you had so much on your plate. I’m sure it not only feels good but spiritually freeing to let go! What’s funny is that many of those things you wrote sound just like me, almost a broken record! I’ve had so many friends say, “How do you do it all?!” I to have left many things and am actually writing a post for tomorrow called Comparison. I’m going to link this post in. You are such a blessing Stephanie and I’m so blessed to know you! Huge Hugs!!!

  7. Thanks for sharing! As I read your post, I could certainly relate! I’ve been dealing with an emotional overload that keeps me from accomplishing the things I need to do. A jumble of circumstances that I have no control over but seems, at least at times, to control me. i’m so tired! Looking forward to hearing more about the adrenal fatigue and pray that you’ll soon be back on the track God has planned for you.

  8. Oh, burnout. I felt that this Christmas trying to do all these advent activities. I even wrote a blog post “Sometimes you need a nap!” in the middle of it all in attempt to remind myself that we need rest to do God’s work. For me, my job for the Lord at this time is to be the wife and mom I need to be. All the rest is secondary–and good–but needs to be managed.

    Here is my blog post on needing a nap: (about Elijah)

    1. @KJ, Yesterday, for the first time in so long, I was folding mountains of clean laundry (literally, mountains) and I was just weary, so I decided to stop. I left the laundry sitting there, unfinished. I crawled up on my bed and just lay there for 15-20 minutes. I couldn’t nap, but it didn’t matter. I was just glad I had actually stopped and listened to what my body needed!

  9. Your ‘resume to burnout’ is very, very similar to mine. I often struggle with imbalance, or putting myself above my capacity. I find that when I am overcomitted, I am actually resentful of my obligations, rather than joyfully fullfilling them. For the past 2 1/2 years my mail goal in ‘wellness’ has been to be more balanced with work (SAHM), church, play, etc. and in those past years I have come a long way, but have many a mile more to go, too. 🙂

    I pray the Lord would bring you peace and rest in the new year, and that you would be able to do the ‘bare minimum’ without feeling guilty; instead feeling contentment, comfort, and relief.

    Sarah M

  10. Yep! Right there with ya friend. I’m joining you in a major paring down in 2011. Thank you for your authenticity.

  11. I hope that you get the rest and wellness you deserve. I am so guilty of pushing myself to hard and too long. Other teachers tease me that I must not sleep. I try to but it usually is not restful and rejuvenating sleep. I am looking forward to your new posts, but please take time to just be before you worry about this blog. All your readers will surely understand while you rebuild your own health. Hugs to you Stephanie!!

  12. Hi, Stephanie…I always enjoy your blogs, but rarely comment…even if they’re not daily! I am so glad to hear that you are learning to let go and let God. =) I struggle with this area so much myself…I blame it on being a first-born, perfectionist, and wanting to do my best…but the truth is, for me, it just comes down to pride and wanting to be in control. I, too, have literally made myself very ill during the past year (and I am still trying desperately to restore my health!) simply from trying to be the “perfect” wife, mother, teacher, friend, housekeeper, etc. I am learning that being busy doesn’t mean that I’m being productive…and that some things just really aren’t as important as I like to pretend they are. These verses from Deuteronomy 10 always humble me and set me straight:
    “12And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? 14Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.”
    May this year be a year of true peace and joy for you…Happy New Year!

  13. Stephanie, This is all too familiar to me, even currently I’m doing many of the things you mention. I actually laughed when I got to your part about canning because that is just how I felt this year – unfortunatly there are way too many things in my life that have the “MUST DO” label. I don’t give myself much room for flexibility. I also have a hard time with the word “NO” I’m often offering to do more than I can handle. I’ll be following along this month. There is so much that needs to change in my life so I can be a better mom and wife. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  14. I am so glad to FINALLY hear you say it all in one breath what I have been
    “hearing” you say in little tidbits for a while….

    And as you know I understand from being there myself….I’m getting better at saying no to things now, God has really impressed on me that my job is being a keeper of my home and that is no small task. I’m learning too…

    I am looking forward to reading more about adrenal fatigue on your site.

    I have been praying and will continue to pray for you, and your family.

  15. Oh Stephanie, the things I have learned from your blog in the past year. My husband now calls me a ‘hippie’ for my natural ways. I love that word and thank you for your inspiration and help as I have needed it. Just this week I wad wondering if everything was okay with you, I had thought about filling out the contact form to check on you. But boy oh boy I have felt close to this, I still do at times but I am a house wife with no kids so my energy less self can recoup and get away with it a little bit more and slowly stick to the schedule that I need to be doing. With all this said I am glad you are getting better and taking the steps needed and I love the support of your husband. I can’t wait for this months post.

  16. This post is so timely……you have no idea. Working full time, commitments at church, commitments at our children’s school, plus a 9 month old who still wakes up at least twice a night wanting to nurse. My brain feels like jello most days, but I can’t go to bed early because there’s laundry……or dishes..or something. Always something! I am very much looking forward to reading your ideas about adrenal fatigue and how to achieve better overall wellness. Right now I’m going through about a pot of coffee a day and I know that’s not good for my baby, but is a better option than falling asleep while driving home! Ack.

  17. I knew I had reached this point a few years ago when someone at church asked me how many hours a night I actually slept. I had to pause after I thought and answered “Five or six hours.” That was my turning point. I made myself slow down, get more sleep and say “No” occasionally. Then we moved across the country and I didn’t join some of the same groups I had been involved with. I have been volunteering and raising my hand only after much thought and a good long (days long) think. Taking time to smell the roses is one of life’s gifts and I find myself seeing and meeting people I would have breezed right by before. What a waste my hustle and bustle would have been!

  18. with twin two year olds and in the third trimester of another pregnancy…this article COULD NOT be more perfect. i am so burned out emotionally, mentally and physically drained. i’m so excited to read your blog the next couple months, in the midst of getting our home/ family organized again, getting back to a healthy diet, and spending time with family/friends/God…this will be huge help as I evaluate the details. thank you for all you do on this blog!!! best wishes to you and your family during this time!!!

  19. I have a similar personality, and learned this lesson about burnout several years ago. Fortunately, it stuck! I no longer even have the desire to do many of the things I had been dong.

    I had a newborn last year, and stopped working on my website for almost the entire year. No blog posts, no newsletters… Nothing. It was a VERY scary thing to do, but I asked the Lord to bless my efforts and focused totally on my family.

    My website GREW that year and traffic almost doubled. I even went to page 2 of google for the word “homeschooling”. Beyond my wildest dreams! (giggle)

    You are doing the right thing. The Lord will bless your efforts.

    “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

    Don’t be afraid to cut back even more if the need arises. Everything that is important is right there in your home. 🙂

  20. Great blog, and I know so many of us can relate, maybe not to the point of serious exhaustion like you have, but none the less, we push ourselves as Mom’s, wives, caretakers, housekeepers, and the list goes on. Thankyou for sharing this, I will keep you in prayer, and I hope you get the much needed rest you deserve. Feel better ((HUGS))

  21. Thank you for your honesty. It seems like everywhere I look I see good women running themselves into the ground. I *used* to be one of them. I burned out in college and again a few years later and again when I was teaching full time.

    I took a one year sabbatical from activities and leadership roles. As I wrapped up the responsibilities I had committed to it was hard not to fill up the spaces with the next new event to work.

    It was the best thing I could have done. I’m headed into year three now and am much more able to cope than before. Will I go back to it all? Probably not. Are there some things I miss? Precious few.

    I know it won’t work for everyone to the extreme I took it, but learning to stop and evaluate what was truly important has saved my life.

  22. Stephanie,
    Your quiet time with the Lord is the most important thing that you can doing every morning. He wants you to come before his throne of grace with confidence knowing that He will supply the energy and endurance to meet the needs of your Husband, family , and home. Only He can do this and it is through time in His Word that we come to rely more on Him instead of ourselves. Reading His Word brings life to us! Stephanie, I will pray for you and that your heart will desire more of Him!
    My Christ’s love abound!

  23. It is impossible to do it all. I know that better than many, because I’m very much like you. I’ve always taken on too much, too. Luckily I’ve so far had many times where I lost my interest in doing much of anything because I just wanted to be at home and have a “break” that I actually took one! I’d lessen my commitments to only what I truly wanted instead of all the things that sounded like great ideas. I’ve learned to say no when I need to. Usually.

    Of course right now, I’m in a unique position. I’ve spent a month not doing much, because of early pregnancy morning sickness. And I didn’t push myself, I did try to rest, I took advantage of my husband’s holiday vacation to sleep in and allow him to take care of things. But he wasn’t really prepped for that role and is now saying HE’S exhausted and sicker than he’s been in two years. So like it or not I have to start taking a more active role in our home again, preparing our food, getting more probiotic foods into us, doing most of the chores again. He is back at work now. Unfortunately my son is being VERY difficult and waking 4 or 5 times each night so some mornings I’m just exhausted. But when I can, I’ll get them a snack, turn on the School House Rock videos, and let them sit next to me while I try to sleep awhile longer. It helps. No, I don’t get as much done, and no, we’re never ready to leave the house before noon, but hey…if that’s what I have to do to survive, that’s what I have to do!

    Health, and God, first, then everything else!

    1. @Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama, This post describes my whole life–the feeling exhausted part! I have struggled with watching overachievers do it all while feeling lazy and inadequate. I feel better now knowing that others are in survival mode as well. Kate, I do the same thing in the morning; I often turn on a video so I can rest or just have quiet for a while. I also have trouble lately getting myself and the kids ready before noon. I keep thinking that this too shall pass. It is more important to be a calm and nice mama instead of a perfectionist ogre who has no time!

    2. @Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama, It’s so ok to do things you need to do to survive in difficult seasons. We don’t tell each other that enough. I did so little in my first trimester with my third, because my hubby was commuting and working long hours downtown, and I just couldn’t keep up. They watched movies, I attempted to nap on the couch, we ate really (really) simply, the house got dirty… and who cares?

      The season will end, you will pick things back up, and you will all come out of it just fine. Don’t feel guilty for a moment. Keep committing it to God and trusting in His provision and strength, not your own.

  24. stephanie, i’m so glad you hear that you’re letting go, paring down, and creating boundaries, just reading this exhausted me!

    may you be well and drink deeply of God’s grace and rest.

  25. Stephanie,

    Thank you so much for your transparency in this post. I have actually been working on a post very similar to this. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I can relate very easily to all that you’ve experienced and having children has often put me over the top. Congratulations for being able to let something go that is very successful like Saving Naturally and to set up boundaries in order to take care of your family and your health.

    I believe that God has allowed some things in my life to not work out in my life the way I’ve planned because he knows what it would do to me more than I would like to admit. Just last night I had the sad feeling that God may not give us all the child that we desire. Right now we have two and at times I questions myself thinking how am I going to handle more with all the things I intend to do for my family (and myself)? Of course, who know what he has in store!

    May God continue to bless you as you walk with Him and set healthy boundaries that allow you to thrive! Hugs!

  26. I don’t comment much on blogs, but I just had to after reading this today. THANK YOU for being brave and humble enough to write this post. I feel like this whole topic is the dirty little secret of womanhood, the one no one wants to admit to or talk about. THANK YOU — your writing about this will help more than one person, of this I am confident!!!

    1. @Sarah, I totally second that. How true. I don’t think any of us want to admit it. I think we have a little bit of a god complex at times not willing to admit it.

  27. Stephanie, thanks so much for this ultra-honest post. It helps me a lot, as someone on the opposite side of the spectrum–it’s very hard for me to be disciplined and driven. I have found this blog to be a great resource for homemaking, but often am afraid to read, for fear of feeling that I should be doing so much more. It sounds like that fear spreads through all of us, regardless of how much we actually get done. Just your honesty helps me realize that even over-achieving people have to work through imbalance. I am used to telling myself that there’s something wrong with me, that I can’t do as much as many of you.

    All that to say, I look forward to reading more and would find it most helpful to hear how you prioritize when things are getting overwhelming.

  28. Stephanie,
    Thank you for your telling your story. It was something really great for me to hear, especially since I am too going through a time of trial and depression. I look forward to your series on wellness! Thank you for your commitment to your blog!

  29. Stephanie, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this post.

    I believe I have been suffering from adrenal fatigue/exhaustion for a few years now, and only became aware of this condition this past year. In my case, years of unrelieved stress, a move to a new country (we’re from down south originally) with my son, embarking upon a full-time BA program at a local university, getting married, adjusting to a brand new life in a brand new place, financial concerns, moving to a new home, and adjusting to being a wife after being a single mom for many years, among other things, all took their toll on my health. I suffered a series of emotional setbacks (the loss of two friends plus the passing of our beloved family dog) which did not help matters much. I wondered why I couldn’t cope with it all, and what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I take a full university course load, be a full-time wife and mom, be the epitome of gracious hospitality to friends and family, and do successful freelance writing on the side (not to mention cooking and baking from scratch via Weston Price principles)? Since moving up here, I haven’t really slept much either, and it has begun to dawn on me that sleep is the cornerstone of good health. But how does one attain that one’s mind won’t turn off, or if one’s spouse tends to be more nocturnal? These are questions I am trying to answer. We try to eat using the same guidelines you do, but my poor health has meant I can’t do all the cooking/baking I used to. Fortunately, both my nearly-grown son and my husband are great cooks, so we all help with that now.

    I have begun to realize that if I don’t start taking care of myself, trying to get more sleep, letting go of things that don’t really matter anyway (dust bunnies), I will never get well, and my health could get far worse. So thank you, for articulating what I and others are going through on a daily basis. We can’t do it all, and it’s when we try that our bodies pay the price. I picked up a copy of Norman Vincent Peale’s classic book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” this past year, and have been reading bits and pieces of it here and there. It is a very powerful book, and I believe that implementing some of the practises in it can really help. As many of us already know, the book addresses negative thinking and habitual worry, and shows how to use faith and the power of prayer to attain greater vitality, happiness, and personal success. I believe this could be a timely read for those of us suffering from burnout.

    I’m looking forward to reading more posts on this topic. It is good to know I’m not alone in this.

    God bless! 🙂

  30. Stephanie,
    Thanks for writing this and getting the word out. I have been diagnosed with severe adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia. If I hadn’t gone to the Dr. when I did, I would be in adrenal failure. Like you, I wanted to be everything to everyone. Now I can only be part of myself to my family and nothing to everyone else.

    Burnout hardly touches how awful this feels. I have 7 children and my 2 oldest girls (14 and 16) have taken over the household because I can barely function. The pain and exhaustion are overwhelming at times. The worst part is, not all Dr.s recognize adrenal fatigue and fibromyaliga as valid diseases. Thankfully my Dr did. Just the other day he told me they don’t teach about this in med school. If he hadn’t done some learning on his own, he wouldn’t have known how to even treat me!

    Thankfully I now have a plan of action and some strict protocol to follow. The goal is to be feeling better in 6 months, but it could take a few years. That time period seems very daunting, but I have a close friend who is walking along side me. She sent me this verse to encourage me: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

    1. @Sheri, I am going through a similar time, and its so frustrating to be able to do what you said- to only be part of yourself to your family and nothing to everyone else.

      I just wanted to encourage you that someone else out there is going through it too…you’re not alone.

  31. I’m very much looking forward to more posts on this topic…I struggle with boundaries, putting margins in my day, and taking time for me without guilt. Some of my new years goals include, more time with the Lord, saying No more often, and joyfully spending time being creative and doing things that I love. I believe that God will use your website to speak to me 🙂

  32. Thanks so much for your willingness to be humble and honest about not being able to “do it all.” I can relate all too well to your post. A dear friend once reminded me that IF IT FEELS OPPRESSIVE, IT IS NOT OF HIM. What a revolutionary thought! His yoke is easy and light and His commandments not burdensome. Still praying about what that looks and feels like in “real life.”

    Praying for you right now – that you would enjoy sitting at Jesus’ feet and “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2)

  33. I think that as moms, there are many many many of us who try to do way too much and we will never admit it. Thank you for posting this. I became all too aware of this in my own life just before Christmas when I almost went in to pre-term labor with my little girl because I was trying to do as much as I would normally even though I was 35 weeks pregnant. Your comment about “burning the candle at both ends” was exactly what the nurse said to me and it all just came together in my head how much what you are saying, with minor changes of course, was what I was trying to do in my life. I do hope that you are able to slow things down in your life as I have to try to do the same in mine. You are a great inspiration to many of your readers even if you never know it. Take care of yourself and your relationship with Him and the rest will fall in to place. I am sure it will. 🙂

  34. Stephanie, I have been at that fatigue point at one time in my life and it wasn’t pretty. It was like I was spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere even though I was getting a lot accomplished. At one time I had 6 blogs! Trying to keep up with all of them was not possible for me at that time. I was homeschooling my kids, caring for a new baby, caring for my animals, caring for my husband but not giving myself any time. Plus I was still dealing with the lose of my father. Then my husband lost his job. I broke down. Gave up all of my blogs to work in the “real world” because I wasn’t making enough from the blogs and they required a lot of time.
    I gave up blogging for a year and now I am back with a new blog, but just one. This time I am trying to prioritize better and have a different focus. This time my focus is not to trying and make money but to share what I am learning with others. I am very concerned about my health as well as the health of my family, friends and fellow Americans (and others) and I know that one voice can make a difference. I pray over my blog and want God to be in every part of it.
    I am so glad you have faced your burnout with a new direction. Now that I have stopped “spinning my wheels”, God is doing the real work in me and through me. Rest is as important as work. God Bless!

  35. Stephanie,
    I had no idea. I am so glad to know so I can be praying for you. I’ll be praying that the Lord will help you to learn his timetable for you in this season as you reorganize things. I appreciate your transparency and know that the Lord will use that to his glory and others encouragement and your good.
    Blessed to know you.

    erin v.

  36. Stephanie, I’m so sorry to hear about your fatigue. You do so much through this blog to encourage others, and I hope you’re receiving encouragement in turn! Sometimes as Christians we focus so much on giving, giving, giving, but we forget to take the time to receive all that God wants to offer us – rest, peace, joy, laughter, love… I sometimes fall into this trap of always wanting to please others, of always saying “yes” – but even if the things I’m saying “yes” to are good, sometimes they are not the Best thing God has for me. I’ll be praying for you to find your rest, your approval, your adequacy in Him!

  37. Steph, thank-you so much for your transparency and honesty. Our family has spent the last year recovering from one of those types of seasons. And let me say, it is so WONDERFUL to have peace in your home. I pray God gives you continued wisdom for the choices this next season will bring you as well as the strength to walk it out. Be blessed!

  38. You are in our prayers for continued recuperation! Enjoy your much deserved time with your family : )

  39. I am not much of a commenter but I had to write something here when I read your post this morning.

    First, I want to thank you for being brave and honest with your readers to put this out there for all to see. As others have already said, this is a bit of a tabu subject for many women and it is important for us to expose it. The SuperWoman complex is so easy to get sucked into. Just because we have so many opportunities doesn’t mean we need to take them all on. Setting priorities can be hard when there are many worthwhile things vying for our time and energies.

    Secondly, I want to encourage you in your move towards health and balance. I have been struggling for many many years with this. It seems that when I finally get to that place where all is well I start taking on more things and find myself back in that dark place again. But as time has gone on I am becoming much faster at recognizing what I am doing to myself and getting back to a more balanced place.

    And finally, I want you to know that people like me who have never met you will be lifting you and your family in prayer. Your writings have encouraged me so much over the last 8 months. I have thanked God for you and your willingness to share your experience many times. I again am grateful for your willingness to share and trust that God will hold you firmly in the coming months as you work of finding a more balance life.

  40. I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I wanted to thank you for this post. It’s good to hear that other women are going through the same things, despite what appearances may be. My baby is 9 months and I feel like I’m just starting to get back some normalcy. Having my morning (or afternoon!) quiet time has really helped. I was just thinking last night that my brain is mush. I’ve heard of mommy brain, but this seems extreme. I’ve had a hard time retaining stuff I’ve read.
    I started GAPS, then stopped b/c it was really hard and my milk supply plummeted. When I stopped it was so much worse, so I had to go back on it. I am pretty good for the most part, but it’s difficult, especially when I’m worn out and don’t want to cook. I’m looking forward to doing the intro after my son is weaned b/c I think that will help a lot.

  41. Oh dear, I am so sorry for what you’ve been through. What a dark and difficult time. I hope that as the days get longer, the sunshine creeps back more and more fully into your spirit!

  42. I *did* until I couldn’t *do* anymore. I literaly came to the point where I had two options: a)slow down and live or b)keep up my pace and die. It’s been nearly a decade since that wall-of-bricks seemed to appear out of nowhere. By God’s grace, my adrenal glands are still working (not at full capacity though) and I am learning a new skill–to ‘be still and know that I am God.’ I’ll be praying for you.

  43. Hi Stephanie – so glad you’re keeping it real and addressing this issue that’s so real and personal for you and many of us. How easy it is to take on more than we really have grace to do! If you haven’t read it, I recommend the book “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.” It has ministered to me tremendously on this subject and I hope it will to you too. Much grace to you!

  44. Stephanie, I so appreciate your honesty on this subject. I will be praying for you as you make these adjustments. I, too, struggle with trying to do too much and there are times that no matter what I do I can’t get myself to just relax. You are on the right path and I know that the Lord will restore you.

  45. This absolutely resonates. I think you will find a lot of people that can understand this on some level. I used to push myself so much at work (I have to be the BEST teacher) that I would be here all hours, on weekends, taking these home with me, going to conferences and researching things all the time. Until I realized that the teacher my students deserve is one that is not sleep deprived and too tired to fully implement anything I learned. Now I think I am better teacher, wife, friend, etc. because I have taken a look at my priorities and put myself first. I will be praying for your continued journey.

  46. Thank you! You are real and imperfect and I love that! You have made me examine my own schedule and motives and I think you caught me before getting in too deep:) Blessings to you and may you find restoration in this new year!

  47. thank you for writing about this! i’m very sorry that you’ve been struggling (you’re right… through your blogs we had no idea!) but i too have struggled with very similar things and it’s nice to know i’m not alone.

    it’s also comforting to know how “real” you are. i’ve been a discouraged perfectionist for several years now and i’m trying to get myself out of that rut that i got myself into following a burnout much like the one you are describing. i’m thankful to be learning so much about adrenal fatigue as i think that’s been my underlying issue all along.

    thank you for fighting your way through this as it helps us to fight our way through too!

  48. I was reading through your post and comments again. Many women suffer from some sort of adrenal fatigue. Western diets and stressful lifestyles just lend itself to be deficient in hormones and vitamins/minerals. As women we have to much on our plates. We start to feel a bit overwhelmed and begin to use the term of “burnout”. Changes are made in the way we do things and we feel better.

    However, there are some of us where the stress and deficiencies are so bad that it begins to affect everything you do and just changing diets and lifestyles and getting rid of the stress doesn’t make you feel better. People around you don’t understand and you feel the pressure to just put on a happy face so you don’t hear the criticism. Inside you are dying. For me, I suffer from brain fog, depression, 24/7 headaches/migraines, complete exhaustion, and fibromyalgia (sever pain in the joints and soft tissues). There are days when everything hurts and I don’t have the energy to hold my children. The Dr. and I are working on a diet that will help relieve some of the symptoms and build my deficient levels back up to normal. I am also taking 8 different supplements and prescriptions twice a day. He believes all this will help, but it takes a long time. We’re hoping that in 6 months I will see a difference, but it could be as long as a year or two before I feel normal again.

    All this to say, please be compassionate to those who you hear have adrenal fatigue. It is not just “burnout”, but a very real, debilitating disease that is not easy to recover from and the whole family suffers.

    1. @Sheri, You’re right to make the distinction between burnout and adrenal fatigue. Certainly many women are “burnt out” from taking on too much, and they do not necessarily have true adrenal fatigue (though they may have somewhat depleted adrenals).

      Severe adrenal fatigue can be awful and debilitating, as you are describing. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with that.

      There are certainly different levels of adrenal depletion. It can range from those who are just beginning to deplete their adrenals and can easily recover with a few lifestyle changes, to those like me who have been draining themselves for a long time and are seeing more serious repercussions and exhaustion, all the way to those like you who are completely, chronically depleted and it does literally take years of hard work and careful changes to recover.

      Unfortunately, there is not a lot of recognition in the conventional medical world for the term “adrenal fatigue”, though most naturopaths and other alternative practitioners would argue that it is definitely real. I have both a family member and a dear friend who have gone through years of struggle with fatigue, and it has take very extreme efforts and huge changes to help pull them out of it.

  49. Does it resonate with me? You bet. Starting with marital difficulties almost two years ago, then beginning to build a house (yes, ourselves,) then the birth of my 2nd son which left me with a uterine infection ending in septic shock in ICU for a week, then moving 6 months later into our (unfinished) house, continuing to build and live there at the same, financial hardship due to my illness and other circumstances out of our control, a lawsuit from our ex-contractors… I could go on and on. The point is, between my own poor choices and other things I cannot control, I have all of the same symptoms you mentioned – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. If I could afford an adrenal test, I’m sure it would not be pretty.
    I eagerly await your series on Wellness. Thankfully the Lord has repaired my marriage, and I am making baby steps toward wellness myself but the journey is long and I need help. Thank you so much for this post, it has resonated with me like none other.
    God bless you.

  50. I have so been there (and in some ways, I still am). Looking forward to your series on general health/well-being.

  51. Stephanie,

    I can definitely relate to this!!! The birth of my third child has throw me for a loop 🙂 My list of things to do is always mammoth!

    I feel so proud of you for letting some things go and making such an effort to regain the health and strength of your body and spirit. Giving up things can be so hard!

    I’ve been praying for you and will continue to do so.

    You are a wonderful encouragement to me 🙂

  52. Thanks for sharing your story. I live this way too – trying to keep up with all I feel I NEED to do and continually adding new projects on top of everything else. (My first year of high school my friends were buying me books “for women who do too much” you would think by now I would have got a handle on this thing but it is such an easy trap to fall into and a hard pit to climb out of.) Finding balance is a journey I am still on, and the temptation is always great when you let go of some things to fill up the empty space with more. (I don’t think I know HOW to sit down and rest anymore….) Sometime I wonder if God is tired of granting me reprieve from some of my burdens only to see me pick up more. I am so thankful for your willingness to share your journey with us. I hope we can all learn from each other. And I earnestly hope for you that you are back to health and wellness very soon.

  53. Is this the same thing as chronic fatigue syndrone? I have read about that and it sounds like the same thing.

    1. @Carole, I don’t know that they are technically the same. They are certainly related, and I think that many with adrenal fatigue are also classified as having chronic fatigue syndrome, but I don’t think that they are one and the same. I’ll do some more looking into that as I write up my post on adrenal fatigue. Good question!

    2. @Carole, I have CFS. From my understanding adrenal fatigue leads to CFS, but that you can have adrenal fatigue without CFS. CFS is a more advanced adrenal fatigue. Thats the basic way it was explained to me, anyways.

  54. Dr. Burns writes some excellent books about common cognitive distortions that trap us into cycles of anxiety and depression. These distortions aren’t exactly styles of irrational thinking. They are extremely common, but harmful if we don’t get a lot of positive feedback as well. I hope you will look into them.

  55. Stephanie, I’m just so glad that you’re willing to be honest and set some new boundaries for yourself and your family! I share your personality … until 2009 when my daughter was born, I had held down a paying job since I was about 13, with almost no interruptions in employment of some kind. I had a demanding job managing a recording studio until the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I had a 4.0 in college, I served in my church, etc. etc. etc. At some points in my life, I was working two or three different jobs to meet my financial needs. Suddenly stopping to stay home was a much more difficult thing than I expected it to be.

    The temptation I struggle with is approaching motherhood and homemaking with that same “perfect or die trying” mentality that I had toward education and career. It’s been a long, slow journey to let go of those habits and embrace the fact that sometimes my house will be a mess, we’ll eat white carbs for dinner and I’ll turn on the TV to entertain my daughter instead of reading an educational book to her. This isn’t to say that a healthy, well-balanced home is impossible – just that sometimes you can’t control every variable that comes your way.

    To be honest, I’ve read your blog and a host of others with similar themes and wondered how in the world you and all these other women were doing so much without falling apart. I don’t even attempt half as many things as you do and I can still barely remember to brush my teeth, much less run two websites and manage three young children. I’m really proud of you for taking some time to breathe and recover. Good for you!

  56. Thanks so much for sharing this. You described what I experienced almost exactly. The trigger for me was our adoption of a 4yo boy from Lithuania and nothing with the experience or period of adjustment went as I EXPECTED. I had always been an independent CAN-DOer, but that shut me down. I struggled along in barely surviving mode for about 1 1/2 years.

    Bless you for admitting your need–for your sake and the sake of your family. In my case everyone suffered. Thankfully things are much better, but without a vigilance on my part and my husband’s part, I could easily slip back again.

    Praying for you as you seek the right balance.

  57. I love that you are opening up this dialogue. Thank you for being willing to open up and share your journey with us.
    I am really excited about this month!!!
    The greatest gift we can give our family is a healthy mother, both in mind, spirit and body.

    Thanks again 😉

  58. Thank you for doing this post and series. I hit a similar wall this past year as well. And now I’m much more likely to spot the symptoms in friends. I’ll be passing this information on. Blessings to you!

  59. I can definitely relate. Depression and fatigue are nearly daily struggles. Thank you for your post and I’m excited to learn more in the days and weeks ahead. God bless!

  60. Thanks for this post Stephanie. I’m glad you are finding ways to restore your heart, mind and family.

  61. Stephanie-
    This couldn’t be any more timely for me to read. I have been walking aroudn in a fog for the past few months. I too gave birth in 2009 to numbers 3&4 (yes, twins). I agonized for months arranging for a home birth. People came with meals and my husband helped wash diapers but I ‘ve been the one up every night since they were born with no breaks. I went back to work full time when they were 4 months and was heartbroken and exhausted. I don’t know how I didn’t make any mistakes during that time. By the time they were 9 months old I called it quits and took a part time job after a month at home. At first the depression lifted and I was feeling better but over the past few months it has come back with a vengeance. And because I get interrupted sleep EVERY night, I don’t really know if it’s depression vs sleep deprivation vs CFS or adrenal fatigue or what.

    I’ve had my thyroid tested, my blood counts, etc and it all comes back normal. I am going to the doc again then end of the month.

    I keep thinking that I’m not doing enough, that if I could just pull myself together and get out of the house (with two babies-ha!) more often, I’d feel better. If I got more organized, I’d feel better. If I ate better, lost the last 10 or so pounds, exercised, etc etc etc-I’d feel better. I am beginning to think that it will take an act of God at this point.

    I still have one twin who just doesn’t sleep well at night. Some nights I am up every hour or two. My husband tries to help but her fussing wakes me up whether he’s getting up with her or I am and to be honest, he doesn’t cope well at all with it and it really is better if I just get up with her since I am awake anyway and am much more calm with being aroused at night (or half dead, whichever it is…).

    I used to get so much done and I am still trying to do more but I feel like I am able to do less and less. Like one of the other women who posted above, I’ve held a job since age 14 and usually have worked two or more jobs at a time. I’ve never had such a lack of energy and excitement about everything, ever. At age 15 months and counting, my babies need a mommy who can keep up with them and can provide a stimulating environment. right now, I’m happy that they get fed and changed and bathed on occasion! I love reading because I can sit with them but once I stop moving it takes everything I have to get back up to do anything.

    It sounds like I am not alone and in a warped way that’s comforting. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone but at least maybe through this we can find help. I just want the oomph back to do what I want to do an need to do. Thank you for the encouragement this is giving me that there is still hope! I’m praying too. I know I am never alone!

    1. @Elizabeth, Elizabeth, my oldest son didnt/wouldnt sleep through the night either. He was up every 3 hours and I finally had had it. When he was 14 months old (I still cant believe we waited that long!) we paid a sleep consultant to help us out. It took about two weeks to set everything up with her and within 5 days of implementing her plan he was sleeping through the night. Best $300 we ever spent! She has two websites and If you havent looked into that option, I would highly recommend it, for everyone’s sanity. Good luck!!

    2. @Elizabeth,
      I totally understand- you are not alone! I went through the same thing when I had my twins. Having two babies to care for is so overwhelming and exhausting, plus you already have two! My twins are almost 2 now, and only recently have I started feeling better (and I still have my days where I don’t feel ok!). Hang in there! Once my girls were born, I had to feed them every 1 1/2 hours around the clock, so from the very beginning, I was exhausted. I was breastfeeding, so I tried to do everything myself. I felt like my husband was on a different planet – he didn’t seem to understand how completely exhausted I was, so things with us were tense and that made me feel worse. I went back to work when they were 6 months old, and they still got up twice each night – AND my husband travels for business Monday through Fridays, so I had to do everything myself, plus go to work. I was a zombie. My girls didn’t sleep through the night (one or the other was always up) until they were about 1. When they were 10 months old, I literally got sick from being so exhausted and pretty much had a breakdown at work. I was so exhausted I felt like I was in a fog, and I couldn’t stop crying all the time. Our family was literally in a crisis mode – I couldn’t function anymore. I made my husband move our family to Chicago, where my parents were, because I literally felt like I couldn’t care for the babies anymore without full time help. I have never felt physically so awful in my life.

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with you other than you are totally and completely TIRED, which makes anyone feel depressed and emotional. You cannot think clearly when you are so tired. I promise, it eventually gets better. I started to see a difference once they started sleeping through the night at 12 months, and then walking at 16 months – somehow it made the days a little easier, like going somewhere or even just playing in the house. Now at 22 months, it is definitely starting to get easier.

      One thing that REALLY helped me (since my girls were awful sleepers) was a book on sleeping specifically geared towards twins. It was called “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins” by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. There is a book by him for single babies, but I was so happy to find his twin version! My mom helped me follow the book and get my girls on a coordinated sleep schedule, including naps. The trick here is that when they sleep at the same time, you can get some rest (or have some time for your other children). If you have any questions, feel free to email me! I hope you start to feel better soon!

    3. @Elizabeth,

      Just wanted to tell you about the thyroid testing, have them check your second and third thyroid levels; you are looking for “subclinical thyroid” problems. They can also do an ultrasound of your gallbladder and look for sludge or stones that can also be an indicator that there is a thyroid problem.

      I know that I am currently in a similiar situation with my 8 month old and never sleeping and as I stop breastfeeding I am feeling more and more depressed. I don’t know if it’s hormones, ppd, thyroid, depression, cfs, etc. I know that right now I feel like it may never end, but I have hope that it will. It’s so frustrating though. I can’t imagine having two babies right now. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  62. Thx for your honesty about this! There are so many times that I feel like the only one who pushes myself so hard & tries to do everything AND to do it perfectly. I had finally managed to settle into a good routine with our 4th child being 2 years old and us all on the GAPS diet. We felt great, homeschooling was going great & I was starting to get my energy back as well as my joy!

    And then we became pregnant with our 5th child & everything fell apart! I couldn’t maintain the GAPS diet anymore & suffered great guilt about feeding my kids non-GAPS food due to my 1st trimester fatigue. I let processed foods back into my own diet just so that I wouldn’t puke through the 1st trimester & by the 2nd trimester I was hooked on them, exhausted,and feeling like everything was falling apart. Homeschooling my 2 oldest became survival mode & blogging has practically stopped & my social action with others became almost none. I now can see that this is as close ot depression as I have ever been.

    We are 3 weeks from having this baby. I am still worried about how hard it will be to balance everything. But I am looking forward to getting past the tough months & trying to get back into a healthy GAPS diet and a healthy balance of life. Now that I know what health looks like – real health – I hope to get back there with my family soon…cuz I know I couldn’t stay in this rut for too much longer. It’s great to know that I’m not alone. Thank you for your encouragement & your posts!

    Andrea (mom24 soon to be mom25!)

    1. @mom24, I didn’t know you were expecting again- congrats!

      I get that not-doing-GAPS-guilt. I’ve been there the past 6 months, and I hate watching my kids and hubby struggle with their health because I can’t do it. My husband has tried really hard to released me, though, and I’ve just had to really let go and trust in the Lord’s care for them, even when it’s goo much for me.

      Praying that after this baby is born, you’ll be able to get back to a better place. You’re certainly not alone, hon! 🙂

  63. Thanks for this post. I have been struggling along in survival mode this past year, but finally figured out it was thyroid and adrenal fatigue. After starting on supplements (through Nature’s Sunshine) I felt like a new person in 4 DAYS!! I’ve been doing great since then, but have a few years worth of catching up to do in my life. My fatigue was caused by 3 kids who didn’t sleep until they were two (and by then the next baby was here), never giving my body a chance to recover. The fog has lifted, and I actually wore myself out physically that first week of feeling good as my body couldn’t keep up with my motivation and zest! Blood tests at the Dr. often don’t diagnose levels as low, until they are very low. Mine tested normal, but obviously weren’t. I’m exercising again, which I couldn’t have even had the energy to think about before.

  64. Thanks so much sharing all of this. I have a feeling many mamas out there deal with this same issue. That period of time after having my third child was the toughest for me out of all my children. While I am not sure if I had adrenaline fatigue it was still a very lonely, depressed, discouraged time in my life. We need more blog posts like this to let new mothers know that they are not alone if they have these kind of experiences! God bless you for your willingness to share. I’ll be praying for you!

  65. I have just been diagnosed with autoimmune thyroiditis, adrenal fatigue, and hormonal balance. I was exhausted. The doctor had me remove all grains from my diet and do a cleanse. I have read that it is very important to avoid gluten.

    Here is a book that has really helped

  66. It’s so easy for moms or even stay @ home dads to get to the point of burn out. Whether it’s to prove to ourselves or others we can do it all and keep it all together to be the super-mom/dad. We don’t want others to think we just lie around all day doing nothing (which if you have little ones around that’s the farthest thing from the truth) but others who haven’t had the priviledge of doing our daily routines for a whole week will never begin to grasp what we really do all day. At any other jobs by law they are suppose to give you breaks throughout your work day, where at home whose going to tell you to stop for 10-15 minutes get a snack, take a break I’ll take over for you. Many don’t have that luxury. I’m so glad you blogged on this subject, it’s always encouraging to know we’re not alone, and that if others share how there is a way out…we won’t be in this same season all our lives:)

  67. Thank you for this- this past fall and currently this sounds very familiar. I work outside the home and the last few months my husband has been on the opposite shift as us so we don’t see him during the week, then they adjusted his schedule to work on Saturdays. Between work, getting to three kids appt.’s, homework, friends, one activity each and trying to eat healthy, I am worn. Like you then I volunteer to add more on top of this because I have guilt I am not doing more. Just this morning I was downstairs crying for some time feeling I just need to release this. Because of this for the last few months my migraines are getting worse and almost every weekend now.
    Fortunately in the next few months things will change. My husbands job will get to as close as normal hours as the job can and we made the choice (several months ago) I would take a leave of absence from my job at the end of the school year (I’m a teacher) and be a stay at home mom for some time. But I thank you for this information, I will do more research and make sure this does not get worse. I am glad you and your husband will doing this together and enjoy the lighter load! What a blessing!

  68. I have been struggling with this same issue over the past year and a half. I have three small children. I was teaching parttime at a local Christian school, which I quit to homeschool. I am also a pastor’s wife, and extremely involved in all aspects of our church. In fact, I regularly log in 40+ hours of unpaid time helping my husband with church-related activities. I cook naturally, organically from scratch, garden, preserve, etc. Sometimes I would describe my energy level as “running on fumes.” I get to the point where everything I do is done poorly, and I am then consumed with guilt. Also, a significant amount of pride is involved. It pains me even to type this admission, but some of the things I do, though I claim I am just “trying to be the best wife possible to please my husband and the Lord,” I am actually doing for the approval of others. I want my mother-in-law to see a sparkling clean home. I want my mother to see my children eating freshly baked bread from fresh ground flour. I want the members of our church to see my happy, meticulously clean children, and to hear how smart they are, so they know I am a good homeschooling mom. Oh the shame of it!

    The problem is, right now, I’ve committed to things and I can’t see a quick easy way out. The only thing I could quit cold turkey, is the crazy food prep I put myself through. But that’s the part of my life I don’t WANT to quit. It’s the one thing right now that I’m doing that brings me great joy! (Besides homeschooling.)

    So I’ve committed my time to God in prayer. I want Him to do the leading. I know that He will direct me to do the things HE wants me to do, and gently push me out of the ones I’m doing of my own accord. I will pray for you in your endeavor to manage your time appropriately, and the others who have commented here with similar situations. Will you pray for us, too? We all need it!

  69. Stephanie,
    I could have written your post. The circumstances were different, but I pushed myself to the limit and beyond, and in my pride, pushed until I fell apart, literally, in a mid-year review with my boss. I have actually been on medical leave since end of July.
    I have been in recovery since then, blogging through the journey, learning more about myself and how to avoid reaching that point ever again. I am actually doing an 8 week Journey to Balance challenge on my blog to help others not reach that point or to return from it.
    I pray that you can start to regain some health and strength. It is very important that you take care of yourself and learn to say NO (which it sounds as if you are!). Be sure to see a doctor to rule out anything!

  70. Thank you once again for your vulnerable honesty. I too fall into the category of driven overachiever. This past holiday season, I had taken on too much at home and ministry, my husband got stranded on a missions trip in Haiti for an extra week and I nearly lost it! Last week I was sacked with a seemly simple cold that just sapped all my energy. I’m still recovering and not feeling 100% But in my several afternoons in bed, I realized that, indeed, life was continuing to carry on even without my constant contribution. And God used those moments to show me that I was again using productivity and busyness to fuel my self worth and avoid pain and problems.

    I pray that we will all learn to rest in our Savior. That we will learn to take His yoke this year. And that he will be strong in our weakness.

    God bless you.

  71. I can so relate with your story Stephanie! I also recovering from a very bad case of adrenal fatigue. The chronic insomnia part was the worst. It’s so hard to function on 2 – 3 hours a night. Thankfully I’m able to sleep again.

    Right now I’d say I’m about 90% recovered. I’ve had a few setbacks because lately there’s been one major crisis in my life after another. But I’m doing everything I can to recover completely. Limiting my commitments, going to bed early enough (by 9 or 9:30), and exercising outdoors has been especially helpful. That and taking adrenal tonic herbs such as Siberian ginseng and Ashwagandha from time to time. Need to be more regular with that though.

    My heart goes out to you. Be encouraged though. It DOES get better over time. I’m sure that all the changes you’ll be making will help tremendously.

  72. One of the greatest gifts we can give one another is the removal of our masks, willingness to be vulnerable and transparent with one another. Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency.

    I too have struggled with being on the verge of burn out this past year and I am taking a sabbatical from leadership and administrative roles. Serving where I can do something practical and encourage others is just what I needed! I help out in little ways to encourage others here where I serve as a missionary, but I don’t feel guilty about taking the time to rest.

    Three things I have done to help get more rest: take my calcium at night, drink chamomile tea when I need to rest, and relax in bed in the afternoon, deliberately quieting my thoughts until I can just be still!

  73. I’m so glad a friend introduced me to your site! I could have written everything you have about fatigue and burnout word for word. I think people are really shocked when I explain to them that running myself ragged for so many years has actually taken a toll on my health and I am now having to get my body back in balance because of those health issues. But like you are doing, I hope to reach and help other women dealing with similar issues.

  74. Stephanie, I can so relate! I went through the same things back in 2006, 2007, 2008 and into 2009. I have chronic health issues and found myself – more than once – being bed ridden and very, very ill – still trying to maintain perfection! I still struggle with overcommitments, but for now things seem better. I told my husband I couldn’t do it all any more and I stopped trying (for the most part!) I wrote about it in my workbook Spring Cleaning for the Heart and Home. Half of my problem is other people’s expectations, but I do put a lot of pressure on myself as well.

    I hope you find balance and renewed health!!

    Melissa Ringstaff

    1. @Melissa Ringstaff, It’s definitely hard to let go of other’s expectations for us, isn’t it? It’s tough to learn to care more about what the Lord thinks of us, rather than having a fear of man. For me, it’s probably more about the pressure I put on myself, but I definitely hear you. It sounds like you’re learning and changing, though, through God’s grace! 🙂

  75. Wow, Stephanie! I read this last year, but I really needed to read it again….and then you became pregnant after all that! I hope you are doing much better now (you seem to be!). This really spoke to me. I’ve been perusing some of your adrenal fatigue posts the past few days (you know, the ones I skimmed before…tucked away b/c “they didn’t apply to me.”). With the recent discovery of my thyroid disfunction (as well as low vitamin D levels…despite 1,000 ius/day–I’m taking 4,000 now!), I’m definitely relating more to these posts now!

    I struggle with trying to keep the girls healthy–to the neglect of my own health. Like I wrote here last month, I think part of my baby’s health issues last winter was BECAUSE I wasn’t looking after myself! Since I now know what’s really been going on in my body, I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2012.

    Thanks for being so real and vulnerable!

  76. I’d love to know what your rest time looked like! I’ve been struggling for nearly 3 years now…well longer than that, but 3 years that I’ve known why and been actively addressing the issues. I know for most of us, just “stopping” isn’t really an option, but where did you cut back, what got put on hold, etc? How did you get the rest you need? My struggle is getting my brain to rest. I can sit perectly still and my brain is going 120mph. I need to get over this-anything you could share would be greatly appreciated!

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