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Exhaustion, Stress and Feeling Broken

It's May. If you're a parent, educator, school administrator, you know it's almost the end of the school year and we're feeling it. BURNOUT. There is just no other way to put it. The kids are done. You're done. Your friends are done. Your co-workers are done.

As a bus driver, Mondays are great. I'm full of energy. By Wednesday, though, I'm on low battery mode, just like my phone. And by Friday, I don't even get the warning that I need to plug in. My family knows that I'm not the person who will coordinate dinner or any plans on Friday, unless it's to get my son out to his monthly Boy Scout campout. Stick a fork in me. I'm DONE.

Now, mind you, that in addition to my driving, my coaching and my beloved volunteering time of Scouts and Rescues, I'm also working as a consultant for my mentor. She asked and I couldn't say no. All of this makes up for a lot of hours worked, volunteered and mom'd. I'm also a wife and one more thing. Oh, what was it? Oh yeah. ME! I need to take care of me! Why do we always make ourselves last?

I saw this yesterday….

Phew. It really kinda stung a little. I saw my counselor this week. My stress and anxiety really got the better of me. I think I broke a little in the last two weeks and my super glue must have dried out. I couldn't put me back together again on my own. I'm glad I have someone who I can confide it and help me get it out. Her "diagnosis" was that I was exhausted.

It reminded me of a time I went to my regular doctor and he seriously prescribed a vacation. It got me thinking. So many of us work so hard to fulfill others' needs. We go at breakneck paces to keep up. We often don't stop until it's too late and the stress kicks in. Then the anxiety for some follows. Thoughts like "How am I going to get it all done?" or "I can't stop now, my deadline is near!" kick in.

That leads to our broken feeling. We left a piece of us elsewhere and can't easily get it back. For example, my daughter needed a prescription in the middle of all this. Our pharmacy was out and because it was an antibiotic, I didn't want to go too long without getting it filled. I called 3 pharmacies to find the one that had even enough for us to get started. We picked up the prescription and needed to go back a few days later to get the rest. Fine.

On the day we went to get the rest, the drive thru was pretty long. But I was tired and needed the prescription so we waited. When it was our turn, it was pretty obvious the woman was frazzled as she ran back and forth about 6 times before telling me the prescription wasn't yet filled and I needed to come back. An hour. I waited an HOUR. Not the news I wanted to hear. I felt deflated. I went back 2 days later.

During that time, I recounted about 10 things I could have done in that time. I was frustrated, but yelling at anyone wouldn't have solved it. Pre-pandemic, I'd drop the kids off at school and sit in the car a little longer listening to the radio, sometimes eating breakfast and really taking a mental stock of the day. It's almost unheard of now for me. But the next day, I did it. The extra 40 minutes of no one looking for me, needing me or doing anything but giving myself time to take a break really did the trick.

So as May is Mental Health Awareness Month, take stock of your own feelings of exhaustion. Don't let yourself break. If you're at the point, find a professional. They really do listen and it makes a difference!

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