Panel Discussion on Burnout and Fatigue: 3 Women Get Real About Their Struggles
The response to this month’s honest discussions of burnout, fatigue, depression and general health and wellness has been so tremendous. Thank you all for sharing in such real and vulnerable ways. I’m humbled that you would share so much of yourselves and these very personal experiences.
I think that it’s so important that we as women truly share our stories with one another, rather than continuing to pretend that we’re all “just fine”. Fellowship, encouragement, growth and healing happen best when we drop our defences and our perfect images. Instead, we can talk openly about how we’re really doing in genuine and constructive ways that serve to actually to build people up and share the hope of Christ.
You’ve already heard about my own story, as well as that of a fellow writer, and today I want to introduce to you 3 more women, all sweet friends and dear to my heart. They are fellow bloggers, daughters of the King, and genuine women who have chosen to courageously share from their hearts and lives in order to offer help and encouragement and shed light on these important issues.
In this two-part panel discussion, I will be interviewing:
Crystal of Money Saving Mom
Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet
Donielle of Naturally Knocked Up
Image by surlygirl
1. What factors do you think contributed to your struggles with burn out? (Pushing yourself too hard, challenging life circumstances, not caring for yourself physically, etc.)
Donielle :: I had our second baby in April of 2009, during a tough year of health issues for my husband. While his issues were not life threatening in any way, they did leave me not only caring for two very small children and a husband who was ill and had special nutritional needs (a.k.a. a lot more work in the kitchen), but also picking up in many areas in our home management that my husband normally took care of. And then when his health returned I decided I had time for projects on my own blog and began to run myself ragged as I worked to grow a ‘business’; staying up until all hours of the night!
No longer was I up at odd hours of the night with a small baby; I was purposely staying up until 2am getting my work done. I was busy writing again in the early morning as my husband left for work, connecting with others all day long, and then working in the early evening instead of spending quality time with my husband before bed. I was leaving not only my personal care on the back burner, but also the care of my home and children.
Kimi :: I had long struggled with fatigue without realizing that being tired all of the time wasn’t “normal”. Through High School, I was always just a little more tired than I should have been. After marriage, my husband and I were blessed to become pregnant six weeks after our wedding. Morning sickness hit me hard for about half the pregnancy, then we found out that our unborn baby had a very serious heart defect. After two very stressful, but wonderful months of caring for her in the hospital, she passed away as she waited for a heart transplant.
Six weeks later we were pregnant again, joyfully, but with an element of fear at the same thing happening again. At 33 weeks I went into premature labor and was in the hospital for several weeks and then on bed rest for several more weeks. Thankfully, Elena was born full term and healthy. I then suffered from three months of almost constant infections and very little sleep, two weeks of a stomach flu, and then UTI that lasted about a month. My body was desperately trying to get my attention! For me challenging life circumstances wore me down and caused different health issues to appear. I suspect that my fatigue before that point may have been caused by an intolerance to dairy.
Crystal :: Shortly after my third child was born, I went through a period of eight weeks of postpartum depression. It was one of the darkest times of my life, but I am thankful my husband was wise enough to get help for me and to lovingly stand by me during this time.
When I finally began pulling out of the depression, though, instead of giving myself grace and taking time to restore and heal my body, I threw myself headlong into life.
I’m Type A and stubborn and have a tendency to think I can do much more than I am capable of. Rather than listening to my husband and my body, I piled things upon my plate, said “yes” to way too many things and tried to be superwoman.
All the while, I had three young children I was caring for, I was homeschooling my just-turned five-year-old, I was running a widely-read blog and I was trying to help everyone and everybody who asked for help.
Image by Cara Photography
2. In your own life, what did the symptoms of burn out and hitting the wall look like?
Donielle :: I was tired. All. The. Time. I couldn’t wake up with out a cup of coffee and if I happened to, I couldn’t get past the afternoon without it. My home was falling apart and in a constant state of chaos and mess, my husband was very often annoyed as I always had ‘just one thing’ to do at night, and my children were very often told to play while mommy wrote just one more e-mail or wrote just one more article. Their moods changed along with mine and it was not making for a pleasant home life.
Kimi :: Extreme fatigue, brain fog, weak immune system, sleep issues, weight gain or loss (at different times), headaches, feeling thirsty a lot, and using a lot of salt (your adrenals need sodium, hence the craving for salt).
Crystal :: By the beginning of 2010, I was exhausted and overwhelmed with life — and it began to affect my physical health. Every 10 to 14 days, I would be bedridden for a few days with a fever, headache and intense pain throughout my whole body.
As this sickness continued to hit every other week or so, I became very concerned. I knew what I was experiencing was not normal and I wondered what was wrong with me. But I kept pushing myself, unwilling to admit that I was the cause of my health issues.
Image by miss pupik
3. What made you realize you had pushed yourself too hard? What was the wake-up call?
Donielle :: I was beginning to feel depressed, I couldn’t sleep well, was gaining weight, and could barely function throughout the day. I felt like all I held so dear to me was slowly slipping through my fingers and I just couldn’t hold on. My life was out of control and it was of my own doing. And the thing is, I knew I was pushing my self to hard! But it was always just “one more week” or “one more project”, but yet I never allowed myself a break and kept forging ahead.
One particular morning, I was folding laundry on the couch and literally fell asleep in the midst of towels and undies while my small children played on the floor near me. Some time after I had fallen asleep my four year old son came over to wake me and I mentioned that mommy was just a little bit tired. Knowing this was always true, he commented “But mommy, you’re always tired” as he gave me a hug. And it was at that very moment I knew God was using this precious little boy to speak past my tiredness, past my foggy brain and depressed mind, and straight to my heart.
Kimi :: I actually didn’t ever realize that I was as exhausted as I really was. I think that I simply got used to plowing through life with little energy. I had gone into a naturopath to treat my UTI after trying to battle it on my own. After hearing what the last few years had been like for me, she suspected that my adrenals had taken a hit. She had me do a medical diagnostic test and found that my adrenals were indeed weak. It was actually a huge relief to me to find that I had a reason for feeling as terrible as I did. I had started to fear that I was just “lazy”, instead of recognizing the exhaustion I was living with.
Crystal :: The wake-up call came for me in the middle of April, 2010, when we found out we were going to be moving in six weeks. I had some big things planned during that time period and I knew there was no way I could juggle moving, plus the commitments I’d already made without having a complete nervous breakdown.
Feeling desperate and at the end of my rope, I went to my husband and shared with him how utterly overwhelmed I was. He gently shared with me how I was the problem.
I was guilting myself into feeling like I had to do all these things, I was accepting opportunities, I wasn’t saying “no” — and in the process, I was ruining my health. I knew he was right and I realized that, by the grace of God, I was the one who had to change things.
Image by o5com
4. How did the fatigue and challenges you were facing affect your family? Your other relationships? Your spiritual life?
Donielle :: My marriage did begin to suffer a bit as we had little time to ourselves as I was working all the time and my children were also becoming unruly. But it was almost in my other relationships that I saw such a drastic difference, because those relationships just weren’t there any more. I was putting so many new things on the front burners that boiled over that my friends and other family members were placed far in the back. Over a few months time I finally noticed how little I’d been able to see them and it made me notice how much all of my relationships had changed.
Kimi :: It was definitely hard to take care of a newborn being so tired, but thankfully my fatigue was never so severe that I couldn’t. My husband was great. He really tried to support me when I was so tired and tried to help me out as much as possible. It is hard spiritually to get as much out of your devotions and Bible reading when you have “brain fog”, but I think that through those times of sleepless nights, infections, and wondering if I had more serious health issues really tested my faith-yet again- and helped me focus on God.
We’ll continue on next week with the next round of questions, focused on the positive ways that these women made changes in their lifestyles, regained their health, and lessons that they’ve learned!
Do you see yourself in these different stories? How would you answer some of these questions?
Top image by o5com
Other Related Posts You May Enjoy
- Panel Discussion on Burnout and Fatigue: 3 Women Get Real About Their Struggles part two
- What is “Real” Health?
- The Benefits of Sleep: 8 Benefits for Getting Quality Sleep
- What it Means to Be Well
- My Journey to Burnout: Proof That I Really Can’t Do It All
- Developing the Exercise Habit
- Staying Motivated to Excercise
- Finding Fulfillment in Being A Mother Only
- Naturally Neutralizing Stress: Herbs that Calm
- The Terrible Thirst of Depression
- Treating Depression Naturally: Supplements, Herbs, and Foods for Feeling Better
- What is Adrenal Fatigue and Do I Have It?
- Adrenal Fatigue: Help and Resources for Healing
This is a wonderful post since its so real. Thank you for sharing in this way.
For me a bunch of stress in my life started my issues just over 10 years ago as a teen. My parent’s marriage break up, along with a bunch of other things like dealing with my own teenage body changes, and some other issues at the time started me to be really stressed out. I used overexercise at this point to get me through the stress. Bad idea. I was exercising 2-6 hours a day. It just got worse from there, but then seemed to get better for a few years (after stopping overexercising). Then with marriage, having kids, dealing with issues like my husband having no work, moving many times, miscarriage, etc things got worse again. All during this time I didn’t understand about adrenal fatigue, stress, caring for myself, etc. I just functioned the best way I knew until I got a diagnosis a year ago and now know I am dealing with some big issues because of extreme adrenal fatigue. The wake up call for me was simply understanding (finally) what is going on. Its taken me a long time to truly understand, but after pushing myself just one more time this fall and spending entire weekends in bed sleeping, I finally understood that I needed to really change something even more than I was already working on changing.
I’m learning a lot about stress and about caring for myself. Its hard since I sometimes don’t understand the balance between the needs of my family and my needs. I pray for wisdom to understand…and I am reading some books to help me understand further about my health as well. I am finally beginning to feel like I am starting to have some headway now almost a year after knowing what is wrong with me. One book that is really helping me is “stress less” by Don Colbert. Its from a Christian perspective and although I don’t agree with all the things in the book I believe its a good read and really opened my eyes to some things. Especially how if I don’t take care of myself that I WON’T be able to take care of my family or help anyone else the way that God wants me to. I think as moms we often feel that we have to put ourselves last all the time, and that that is Biblical. And although in many ways it is, and there are times of sacrifice for sure, and often that is right, like obviously we need to sacrifice at times and put our own needs aside, if we don’t care for ourselves at all, I believe that is also unbiblical. Helping everyone else and our family always at the expense of our own devotion time, attempting as far as its in our control to get a good night’s rest, eating properly etc. I believe is what God wants me to do so that I can be a better wife and mother and homemaker. I hope that makes sense. Its a complicated issue (selflessness vs. caring for self) but I think that if our motive in caring for ourselves is that so that we can do our work in our homes in a better way that is the right motive. God DID create us to be beings that need rest, nutrition, etc. and I believe its wrong not to take care of our bodies and push them past the limits God has wisely put in place.
Nola, I’m glad you are working on finding that balance in your life where you take the time to take care of yourself as well as nurturing others. It’s so hard to even feel like we’re allowed to do this, let alone that we should.
I had to reach middle age before I could begin to understand that if I didn’t treat myself with at least basic kindness that I was going to be running on short reserves all the time and not have much of anything genuine to give anyone else.
I think Nola shares such an important point when she tells us that God created us to be beings who need rest and nutrition. We also need spiritual and intellectual nourishment. One thing that helped bring me to my senses in this regard was simply asking myself if I would ever treat a friend or relative the way I treat myself. Would I disapprove of a friend for getting 7 hours of sleep at night? No, I would not. It is okay to have high expectations for ourselves, but let’s try to make sure we’re not expecting more of ourselves than we would from anyone else.
As a 51 year old (mom of 5, grandmama of 1 and 1 on the way) , I have been amazed when I periodically read the blogs or articles like this one. Mainly , because at this stage of life, I am looking back at how I conducted my day , “back in the olden days ” (my kids now are 19- 27). Although I homeschooled and life was very very full, in no way can I compare how I lived to how many of the young moms live now.
I would encourage all of you in the midst of having babies and raising your young families, to re- evaluate your blog writing and meal planning and money saving/furgal living/ …. You are so talented and I know the message is that not only “youcan do it all/ but you can help each other /as well as your husbands ( wholesome meals, working from home to make $, blogging to encourage other moms…) . And while it looks like it is doable, it just plain isn’t .
You don’t need a lecture from me, but I am just hoping you can step back, turn off your computers ( I know I know, here I am myself but I honesty rarely peek at articles/blogs) and just go through your day doing your home things and children things and husband things. And please hear this: it is good and right to sit and play with your children or watch them play or have them play while you make dinner. We don’t have to be such multi taskers and checking our twitters, facebook and writing about our latest craft or money saving tips. And less you think I am picking on anyone , I AM NOT. I am just hoping you feel like you have the freedom to JUST BE. Just be content doing the needful things –not doing everything else that seems like it should be done because so many are clamoring for it.
That’s it. Take care and enjoy the little things.
Love from an older woman.
Just by reading through these 3 ladies , I see a pattern . The husbands are NOT expecting these sweet ladies to be all that they are trying to be. It is a self imposed expectation
@Laura Greiving, I think there is a lot of truth to those words, Laura. We are still far more impacted by feminism and it’s deception than we would like to believe. Feminist ideals tell us that we can “do it all, have it all, and be everything we want to be”. You’re right in that we can’t, but we struggle with it nonetheless.
I am actually so, so excited about an upcoming post from an older woman (a young grandma with 4 young adult daughters whom she homeschooled) who I will be interviewing on the very things that you’re talking about! 🙂
@Laura Greiving, Thank you for sharing this. Actually, I’ll be honest- hopefully this won’t hurt anyone’s feelings- the things you mention is why I don’t have a blog, or twitter, or facebook…I do read a few blogs (this one and a few others) and this one almost every article since I am encouraged by it greatly, but I always wonder, too, at how the other moms seem to “do it all”…but it appears to me that they can’t either. I also think that maybe we’ve all gone too far with thinking we can do it all.
@Nola, I think that it can be wise to refrain from adding in extra things, such as blogs. For me, this period was really before I became much of a blogger and doing my blog was part of the healing process for me. Everyone’s story is different, but my health issues and fatigue were definitely caused by life situations (not overwork). I feel that it has been a real blessing for me (and my family). I have actually been very thankful for the focus that my blog gave me when still on my journey of healing.
@Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet, I can understand where you are coming from. I re-read my comment and hope it didn’t come across the wrong way. I guess I was coming at it from the perspective of my own view of seeing a blog as being extra (and too much for me) work. I know for me personally without any doubt that having my own blog is not what is right for me, but I am glad that you’ve found it helpful and healing in your own life. I certainly enjoy reading this blog and others like it so I’m not against other moms blogging, as long as they come at it from the right perspective and motives. I wouldn’t be able to have the proper boundaries in my life and it would end up being one more thing to do that would overwhelm me and keep me from my focus as a mom and wife and homemaker.
@Nola, Oh, it didn’t come across the wrong way. 🙂 I was wanting to point out that not everyone who has a blog ends up with adrenal fatigue. LOL And what I appreciate about the other ladies on this panel is that they learned to step back and regroup, something I have had to do with other things in my life. An important thing for all of us to learn, bloggers or not.
@Laura Greiving, I appreciate your reply Laura. AFter having my twins 16 months ago, it was pretty rough for the first few months. Neither sleep through the night yet and I have been getting more and more exhausted rather than feeling better as they get older.
During the day I rarely go on the computer because I want to be there for the girls and I just love enjoying them, watching them be 16 months old and being their mommy. I do try to cook as much as I can and although I love to cook, lately even that feels like a chore but our finances don’t allow for takeout more than maybe once a month for a pizza. But then I feel guilty because pizza is such a cheap thing to make from scratch! Meal planning seems like a job and although I think maybe it’s a good idea, I can’t get my self to follow what I plan. It kind of takes the joy out of cooking something on a whim!
Why is it that we allow these pressures to seep in? I thought that leaving my full time job would make it so much better but I just keep adding pressure to myself to make myself “better” and in the process I just keep disappointing myself and that doesn’t help when you are already exhausted and feeling guilty for not being super-mom! Most days I can’t remember to do the things I want to do let alone the things I need to do. Even if I write them down. And I bought a mom-datebook that was supposed to make me so superorganized so I could get it all done! What a farse we sell ourselves!
Being “plugged in” doesn’t help. Facebook only reconnects you with people that likely you lost contact with because you didn’t like them or have anything in common with anyway. I don’t really care what my cousins are doing. they annoy me. ALways have, likely always will. So do a lot of other people. This stuff doesn’t add to your quality of life. I am so beat up at this point that I think the only way to fix it is to hit “reset,” go on a FAcebook “fast” (I dont twitter-whatever that is anyway and I don’t text unless forced to -too cryptic-just CALL me!) and just “BE” for a few weeks. Then re-evaluate.
I’ve tried all the other stuff-get rid of the artificial foods, cook from scratch, take fish oil, exercise (ha!), eat fat, avoid carbs/wheat/gluten/ sugar, soaking, etc. the only thing that has been beneficial has been getting rid of the artificial stuff and cutting way down on carbs and sugar because they are addictive and leave you feeling even more drained. And real food with real fat in it or butter on top tastes SO MUCH BETTER!
There is just so much pressure out there about what we moms “should” be doing, “have” to do or avoid, just gotta try, etc. And we listen to it. Ack! It makes me want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep for a few years and say wake me when it’s time to send the kids to college! I just want to enjoy them and not feel guilty about giving them store bought bread toasted with butter and jelly for lunch or feel like I am going to make my kid autistic because I gave them some immunizations.
As you can see, I am just kind of fed up in general with a lot of things. I’m sure the psychology majors out there will discover it goes way deeper than all of my ranting here. Maybe I just need an herb. Or a maid. What ever it is I hope it comes along really soon and helps me dig out of this before I shave my head and join the nunnery.
I can relate to so much of what everyone is saying in these blogs and comments. I am a 53 year old mother of 8- ages 28 down to 11. That makes me a lot older than most of the moms here, and I have had the same thoughts- how do they do it all? I’ve read a number of blogs, and I enjoy and would like to follow some more, but haven’t the time. In fact, I have one of my own, created to address the issues in my journey with a daughter who has a plethora of disorders on the autism spectrum. I homeschooled for 11 years, and had 5 of my children during that time. Most of them entered school right before I found out I was pregnant with the eighth. I’ve suffered from depression, treated with meds; I lived on minimal sleep for 20something years, always pregnant and/or nursing a baby. My special child has a sleep disorder and she awakens early morning (like around 4 now, but it has been as early as 2ish, up for the day, asleep by dinner). She’s done this since infancy,(and she’s 13 now) so I haven’t even slept in a bed because I have to be somewhat alert to her comings and goings, even now. Last fall I was taking her to an educational program that was a 6 hour round trip, in addition to working part time, and trying to do all the stuff moms and wives are supposed to do. Elizabeth, I think you’ve got something here…although the internet is an amazing tool, it can suck away our time. We have to be really, really careful. I’m on Facebook primarily to see the photos my daughter posts of my new granddaughter- and to mention when I have posted a new blog entry. I burned out within 3 months of starting the educational program mentioned above. I didn’t eat properly, gained 15 pounds, stopped exercising, and worst of all, stopped spending time with my Heavenly Father. But I had time to research nutritional stuff, because I needed to learn for my daughter, and I found time to just check- and an hour on Facebook felt like 5 minutes. And I became so depressed about the food we eat and the fact that I can’t, I simply can’t, feed my family organic, healthy, non-polluted food. I can do my best, and we can avoid certain things, but it is what it is in our day and age. We can only trust God for it all- our health, our circumstances, and our lives in every aspect. I finally admitted to myself last week that I am in depression, not full-blown, medication-necessary depression, but the in-a-rut-and-I-don’t-care- to-really-try-to-get-out-of-it kind of depression with the brain fog and fatigue. But I do care! And I hate being stupid and dense because I’m tired and fogged. Yesterday my pastor preached on fasting, and I’ve done it before, with great benefit. “I love you, God, more than I love this food.” Somehow it worked yesterday, and as I had skipped breakfast I just continued on through the day. By 9pm, when it had been over 24 hours since I had eaten, I was feeling so clear in my head, and less despairing! I actually feel a bit of hope- that’s what depression is after all- a loss of hope. I’m sure this isn’t very concise or coherent, but the bottom line when you are feeling beat up is to go to the Father and let him cradle you in His arms. Don’t try to fix it all or do it all. Don’t keep on doing things the same way or you will end up curled up in a ball wishing the world would go away. Do go to God, do slow down, and do whatever feels right to you. PB&J is a fine sandwich and there are some pretty good breads out there- I used to bake all mine for a long time…but to do so now would put more stress than I need. Don’t look to everyone else for approval, but seek God and find out what He wants for you at this time in your life. The wake-up call for me was Jeremiah 29:11-14- For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. YOU WILL SEEK ME AND FIND ME WHEN YOU SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back from CAPTIVITY.” Bondage and captivity to all these things, and discouragement and depression are all tools of the enemy of our souls. It is only be embracing the freedom we have in Christ that we can even begin to let God conquer the things that hold us captive and set us free from them. God doesn’t want us to be supermoms; He wants to show the world that He is working and active in our busy, painful, disorganized, unfulfilling, tired, disappointed, lives. He wants the glory for our successes, and for our victories over all the ungodliness in our lives. I am encouraged by the transparency of these women, and by their insistence that God is the answer!
@Laura Greiving, Laura, thank you sooooo much for your honest and kind words … my MIL is always trying to tell me this same thing and the longer I go on with mothering, I can see that you are both so very right. I think Stephanie’s point about feminism is on the mark. As much as I appreciate some of the social changes that emerged from feminism, it seems that we are now expected to accomplish twice as many things … and it also seems that “just mothering” is looked upon as laziness. Honestly, with only one very active two year old, I am busy every minute and if I’m not actively working, it’s because I’m choosing to ignore the work and take a minute to relax! Just keeping up with my home is a FULL TIME JOB! I am just now becoming comfortable with this concept. When I left my demanding career to stay home with my newborn, I immediately tried to make mothering and homemaking into my new demanding career – it was incredibly discouraging! Striving for perfection only made me feel worse, because as I’m sure you know, babies mean you’re always running behind and forever getting sidetracked! I also struggled with post-partum depression for several weeks, which I wish that I had been more honest about. These have been hard lessons to learn, but I think I’m finally coming to a place of acceptance. Thank you again for your wise words.
Thank you so much for this series of posts on burnout and fatigue. Reading Kimi’s answer to your first question just made me realize that I’ve actually always felt just a little more tired that I should have been – since my teens. However, now that I’ve reached my mid-thirties and 4 years after a twin pregnancy and 2 adorable girls to love, I think I’m about to reach my limit. I’ve complained to doctors about my fatigue for a while now (the first year after my daughters were born I guessed feeling tired was just what came with the sleepless nights), but 2 years after that, feeling tired every single morning and too tired to fall asleep at night just didn’t seemed ok. Tests have ruled out anemia, I was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis and told to ‘try to get some rest’, but I was never told about adrenal fatigue or burnout. Vitamins were suggested, but left to my own discretion. These past months I’ve been trying to take better care of myself, changing my diet, getting the right supplements and getting some more actual sleep. Your posts have been a valuable source for information and guidance on this change I’m trying to make in my life. Your Christian perspective is incredibly comforting to me.
Yes, I KNOW there is something wrong with me! I’ve suffered from chronic fatigue since I was a teenager, been to many doctors, tried many potential remedies, with no relief. My journey has brought me to Donielle’s Infertility Workshop, which focuses a lot on nutrition. I know this is what I need…
Thanks so much for this discussion. Yep, I see myself in these stories!
I think my low energy levels were originally caused by the silver (mercury) fillings I got when I was 18. Since then, I was drained all the time. I had no idea the two could be related until I read the book Mercury Free by Dr. James Hardy.
Another thing that was causing problems was wheat. I recently discovered that I’m intolerant. Wheat was causing me to have muscle aches and extreme fatigue. I used to literally feel like I was half alive, dragging though life. I didn’t understand how everyone else seemed to be able to get so much done.
I thought that the problem was that I was just being lazy. So, I kept pushing myself harder and harder. I dragged my way through school, and then worked a couple of jobs, all at the same time.
Like others mentioned, I felt that I had to help everyone who asked and take on every project that came my way. Finally, I ended up completely burnt out with adrenal fatigue.
Aside from making my health a priority, I too am learning to slow down and consistently put God first, family second, and everything else third. I’m learning to trust God to order my life. After all, He promised that if we seek His kingdom first, He’ll add all these things (the things we needlessly stress ourselves out about) to us.
Stephanie, thanks for this series! I have felt “off” for months, but especially reading the things you have shared here, I realize that I am doing better than I imagined. 🙂 I think the lack of sunshine in 2010 (at least, in Seattle — not sure what it was like up north for you!!) is really what ails me, as I am not running myself “ragged” and I take lots of opportunities to relax :). I also sleep great (and always have, praise GOD!!) and even my little nursling, who still wakes at night, falls asleep next to me and we both sleep. (Hmn, it’s getting “things done” during the day that is trickiest!) 🙂 Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the encouragement and for sharing! These are huge and vital topics and I love learning from you (and the other ladies)! 🙂
@Tammy L, Oh yes, we get the same sunless winters that Seattle gets… gray, gray, gray. 🙂
Glad you’e enjoying these posts, Tammy!
I have twin boys that are 2 years old. I had a very difficult pregnancy and my twins didn’t sleep through the night until they were one year old. One of my twins had to be fed more frequently because he was born with a cleft lip. I am tired all the time and want to sleep whenever I can. My counselor thinks I have adrenal fatigue. My doctor tested my thyroid and my T3 was actually elevated. Shouldn’t I have more energy if that is what my throid was doing?
@sarah, I don’t honestly know much about thyroid issues myself, so perhaps someone else can speak to that question more. But, adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues are not one and the same. You can have one without the other, so you could be exhausted by depleted adrenals regardless of your thyroid. I’d have to look into that more, though. It’s a good question!
Reading this, I realize this is where I am. With a school-age daughter suddenly diagnosed with a heart issue requiring sudden midnight trips to a children’s hosp. 4 hrs. away, another with digestive “mysteries” we’re trying to solve (with her dr. 3 hrs away), a worn out husband, and a 3 1/2 and a 2 yr. old still at home, with 5 miscarriages throughout, I’ve hit a wall, and find myself identifying with Danielle. I know it’s time to change, but am overwhelmed trying to find where to start. Looking forward to next weeks discussion- very much so.
I have been tired my whole life; by age 10 I remember I was tired. I started having babies b4 my 19th bday and it didn’t help. I was widowed at age 25 (2 kids and a baby) and then HSling as a single mom (with no daddy to take them weekends tho) for a decade and a half. I have always needed as much, if not more, sleep than my kids. 10 hrs was my need. So much so that I often slept on the couch in the morning after I had trained the oldest to handle brkfst. I was falling asleep at 4pm everyday. I thot I was lazy as everybody else thot I was. I thot I overate as everybody else thot I did.
My problem was incorrect diet from birth–formula fed, early solids and typical SAD till jr high when I started dieting and felt better as an effect of low sugar intake finally. I didn’t realize this however and battled incorrect eating for the next 3 decades. Way too high carbs and too little exercise (I was exhausted!). Trying to be vegan at times, vegetarian most of the time.
Then insomnia struck, slowly in my late 30s. It got very, very bad so that I was sleeping 4 hrs a day at age 38. I now know it was because I was eating a raw diet with very little calories at that time and so, stressing my adrenals. I had developed insulin resistance over the yrs and it had slowly gotten worse but then my adrenals got bad enough that fatigue was overwhelmed by a body that couldn’t shut off. Sleeping pills did nothing. Can you imagine not being to take a pill even that would knock you out?
I had 2 more babies after remarrying at 40. (at one pt in my 4th pregnancy I only could sleep 2 hrs a DAY, that was hellish as I am very, very ill for 1st 3 mos) My sleep had gotten better as I ate more and didn’t exercise as much. But then when the 5th baby was about 18mos, my insomnia flared up now and again. Stress kicks in my insomnia and my life is always very, very stressful for whatever reason(s).
I pushed and pushed myself and would be so sleepy sometimes, I’d have to pull over while driving home from church and sleep 15 min to make it the rest of the way (an hour drive). I sat in the car and read while my older kids played at the playground by the time my 3rd was 4yo. I had NO energy. An outing to the city (all day) would put me dysfunctional for 2 days afterwards. I was sick often and really, really sick. No help. Just me with the 3 kids going bonkers and *hungry* by the 2nd day. It was ridiculous. Again, I just blamed me.
Long story, short. If you’re tired always, you’re not lazy. You’re not depressed either(ppl tried to tell me that too ). You need help. Big time. You need to heal yourself. You need more time off, mentally as well as physically. I did little outside the home (online qualifies also as outside the house) and I was still a mess. My physical body just got worse and worse as I aged. What was tolerable at 25 or 30 degenerates to fibromyalgia or lupus or rheumatoid athritis or gluten intolerance or some other auto immune attack in your 40s, if you make it that far.
Women were not molded to be superwomen. We have to eat right, we have to get sleep (put that nursling in bed with you), we have to exercise a few times a week (a relaxing kind of thing tho, we should feel better after, not worse). It’s nothing but martyr-complex to do less. Jesus didn’t die for us to be a martyr too. We don’t need to be.
Our hormonal system is a fine balance that profoundly affects the rest of our body. If we respect it, we will have quality life. If we stress our adrenals (adrenaline and cortisol problems) and have high blood sugar (insulin problems) we will reap disaster soon enough in our bodies. Maybe sooner than later in the case of infertility/PCOS. Just becuz you can do it now at 25 and still not fall completely apart, doesn’t mean at 35 or 45 you won’t be shaking your head, why can’t I lose these 50lbs I’ve gained.
Someone up above said Seek His Kingdom first, not work your way into it or work your way into His good graces even. Then everything else falls into place and alot of the fluff has to leave. Praise God!
I identify with Kimi’s story. I had my first baby at 27 and then found myself pregnant again 10 months later. When my son was 19 months, my daughter was born but was diagnosed immediately with major heart defects. She had open heart surgery at 2 days of age but passed away at 12 days old. She never came home from the hospital. Six weeks later I was pregnant (again a surprise but one we were so thankful for!) and my body started the process all over again. After having my second daughter, my body lost it on me for a few weeks with me being quite ill — I was just so worn down. I then developed a UTI that lasted several months. it was torture but finally got the help I needed to cure me. Since then, I had baby number 4 and he is now six years old so my story is quite old. I feel my body has recuperated now from all it went through. I exercise daily, try to eat right, and then pour myself into homeschooling my kids, being on the board of my co op, and teaching writing to 5th – 7th graders. I appreciate the comments from the one poster about not doing so much. I need to heed that advice and focus more on enjoying my children while they are home with me.
Thank you so much for the article. I am a recovering work-aholic who ran my health into the ground to chronic illness. Although after a decade, I am functional and getting better each year, but I am not at the place I was before I ruined my health.
I am learning to depend on my faith and a God who really loves me. Not what I do. Not what I get done. I am starting to tell myself everyday that all I “have to do” is spend time with Him and live a healthy lifestyle. Whatever else gets done or not, I am not what I do. (It’s so hard to reprogram my thoughts.)
I so appreciate this series that you are writing. It takes a lot of courage for you and each of these panel members to share like this, so thank you!
I really identify with this. My story is that I was working 2 jobs (1 full-time & 1 part-time) while my husband was working part-time and going to school full-time. We were in debt and trying hard to make a little extra to pay down the balances. We had a surprise blessing of a pregnancy, and I continued to work both jobs throughout it, despite feeling very tired and sick much of the time. After I gave birth I took a very, very long time to heal and had to return to work full-time before I really felt well again. My husband has since finished school and now works full-time, but we barely make enough to pay our bills each month so there is no option of me quitting my job or even cutting back my hours. We work opposite shifts so we are always either at work or parenting at home, alone, and we only see one another on weekends. And we are still in debt. The stress is extreme and chronic at this point, and I feel my physical and mental health suffering for it. We are constantly getting sick and I am exhausted all the time. I started taking some high-quality vitamins and cod liver oil, and I felt a huge improvement from that. But now I don’t know what else I can do because I’m still not well. The question I struggle with is this: how do you cope with burnout, fatigue, and even depression when you CAN’T cut back on anything? I’ve already pared down my life to just essentials!
@L, I think at that point you have to start asking for help, from other family members, from friends, perhaps from the church. Maybe aska friend to help you do batch cooking and put meals in your freezer to cut down your cooking time (without having to compromise on foods that are healing your body). See if you can find a teenage girl at church that would like to volunteer and come over once a week to help you catch up on house chores or watch the baby while you do those things so you can get stuff done faster. Do you have parents or siblings living nearby who can help? It’s hard to ask for help, but it sounds like you need it at this point, for all of your sakes.
I would also consider whether you can lower your standard of living at all (and I say this knowing absolutely nothing about how you live- you may have done this already), but consider a smaller, cheaper home, downsizing to a less expensive car, cut out any extras like cable, etc. Anything helps, to cut your costs to help relieve the burden of financial pressure on you and your husband.
It sounds like you’re in a hard place, so thanks for sharing so openly. I’ll pray that the Lord will strengthen you and lead you as you make decisions.
This is what resounded with me from these articles:
I THOUGHT I WAS LAZY.
I am 50. I have 4 sons, 26, 25, 15, 12. I have always homeschooled. In my young adult life, Hub and I were methamphetamine users. During that drug uses time was the only time in my life, since puberty, I didn’t feel lazy and like some kind of slacker. I have also been overweight most of my adult life, now to the point of 150# overweight! I have suffered sporadic insomnia for 15 years. I have always intuitively known that my health and mental state were enormously affected by constant stress.
I guess it really doesn’t matter if I recount my many symptoms and circumstances. My biggest reason for writing a comment is to thank you for encouraging transparency and giving a forum to other women to share their experience. If you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten this vital lesson today. Even at 50, some of us are still suffering from trying to do it all without taking care of our “instrument”, our bodies.
I AM NOT LAZY. I NEED TO HEAL MY BODY. NAPS ARE *NOT* JUST FOR SLACKERS! IT’S OKAY TO SPEND MONEY AND TIME ON MYSELF SO I CAN BE HEALTHIER.
Thanks so much.
@Laura Greiving, Thank you for that. I rarely have time to read, let alone write, blogs. Craft time is sparse, too. We had 3 girls in 4 years – and we have seen our fair share of sickness and piling way too much on our plates (the epitome being graduate school full-time while working full-time, moving every year, and … You get the picture) … And I have to agree with this blog/post – there is a season in life for every thing. Really, we can have everything, just NOT all at the same time. Sometimes we have to be guardians of our time – in our families we need to spend more time playing together, working together, reading, eating, teaching, singing, … being together. One of Satan’s most popular tools these days seems to be keeping us all so busy. Too busy to pray, to ponder, to date our husbands, to get a good nights sleep. If our helping others is taking away from our children we need to re-prioritize. If our blog is taking away from our marriage we need to re-prioritize. Sometimes we have to chose between a good choice and a better choice – what will regret not doing more?
It is so receding to not see the same old, fake, my life is perfect blogs. A nice dose of reality. Thank you. Not that I don’t like to look for the good and the beautiful in life … I do… It’s just that motherhood is not always fun recipes and crafts, beautiful gardens and endless energy. It is hard-work. Let’s not forget to give ourselves permission to believe that. Somehow muster the courage to rebuke the myth, and not feel compelled to prove to the world our worth. We are mothers! It is an important job, now and eternally.
Stephanie! What a great discussion. I am a 41 year old stay at home mother of 5 children ages 16-3. I had a strong revelation in my early to mid-30’s and I think it’s something that the older generation of mothers (my moms age) understood…I’m jealous of them for it: It is enough to be a mother. JUST a mother. It is a huge job and takes SO much energy. We grow human beings! No one else can do what we do! No one else (even our husbands!) knows how much work it takes to do this…physically, mentally and emotionally. Instead, we put so much pressure on ourselves to do so much more…to fit more into the most sacred and important role on earth. I’m sure there are a million and one cultural reasons why we feel we must do this, but in the end, ourselves and our children and our marriages…most especially ourselves, are none the better for it, I think. I decided long ago that if I would regret anything in life, it was not going to be the lack of time or energy I spent raising my children…I couldn’t live with regretting what kind of mother I was to these children.
@Sarah Turner, That’s such a good reminder… that it’s enough to be a mother. We all need to continually remind ourselves of that!
I’m 50 – had 10 kids in 14 years – homeschooling them all – led homeschool support groups and childbirth/lactation classes – encouraged my husband to be busy serving – both of us involved in church and community activities as well – now we face a broken marriage because somewhere in there he got too busy to help and I felt neglected and overwhelmed and he wasn’t “feeling” love and respect from me and I wasn’t “feeling” love and support from him – we knew our marriage was getting cold but we were too busy to do anything about it – he found someone who had the time to love on him and make him feel #1 again –
I was type-A super-achiever all the way – didn’t have a blog but did have a newsletter for a time – now I’m picking up the pieces and wondering why anything seemed more important than my husband and children and simply being home. I can’t describe the pain of knowing my husband was with another woman (a Christian homeschool mom who had her own marriage troubles so was lonely and available). And now that I’m heading for menopause and losing my looks and energy… I feel like I gave my “best” years to the world at large, but not to my husband.
Hopefully no one will experience infidelity in their marriages but please learn from my mistakes and don’t neglect your husbands.
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