It is extremely difficult to remove the guise that we can do it all. Even if we sometimes express how tired we are or unappreciated, we just keep going. But then one day we don't. We burn out. However it manifests itself...through mood fluctuations, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, overeating, under eating, all of the above. Or sometimes it's simple that you can no longer smile a real smile.
How often I see posts (or post something myself) about how I can not do this anymore. I am waving the white flag. I am done. DONE. And the responses are kind...."I hear you", "I'm having a hard time too", "It get's better, hang in there." and let me add, these are wonderful things to say. I am not considering this wrong. It's just all we really know. Unless its your closest friend and they know exactly what you need, most people just do not know how to help someone.
I have been experiencing one of my worst bipolar fluctuations since being post-partum years ago. So I have felt like a failure as a mother. I have had days I couldn't even pretend to like my children's drawings they so eagerly wanted to share. I couldn't go to the store because I would have to interact with someone even for a minute. I yell, I cry...and I cry some more. I feel such embarrassment and I just wish someone, anyone could help. But you know what, I don't want to ask you. I am past that point. And even if someone says, "Hey let me know if you ever need some help" well where do I begin. First off can you talk to my children, maybe give them some positive energy because I am out. Can you bring me dinner because making kraft dinner is beyond exhausting. Can you not call me to 'talk' so I have to make you feel better that I am sad? Again, this isn't saying that offering help is wrong, its just that it's so hard to ask, really.
So here are things I wish people would do for me when I need help but can't find the courage to ask:
Text and ask what time dinner is and that you will bring something by. Don't knock, just drop it off.
Text what time they can come grab a kid, or two, or three.
Offer that you can chat but if a bottle of wine is better, it will be waiting at their doorstep. If they say they are too tired to chat and don't worry about the wine, bring the wine anyways.
See what time school is out, just pick up and drop off a kid.
Tell them you love them.
Text them you can come by and give a back massage.
Tell them you are at the store and what do they need.
Leave a flower, or note, or cookies at the door.
Send a note you love them.
Offer them a girls getaway, even for a night, or afternoon, or a pretend one once kids go to bed.
Offer to whisk them off to yoga (totally impartial here).
Bring them to bootcamp. Sometimes we need a kick out the door!
Check in on them, just a note you are thinking about them.
Do you see what I am saying. Its the proactive approach. Because when you are so exhausted and without joy it can be painful to have to face someone...because they might see your pain. And some people want to talk while others don't. What I need is not what others need, but this is food for thought. In the society we live in, we are left so alone in a sea of people. But once you begin to accept the help, and offer it in return, the more supported you are. And when you feel supported and have the tools to maneuver this daunting task of motherhood, the more likely you can move away from burn outs. We all need so much love.
I am thankful to say that recently I have found more and more support through my willingness to open up even during the darkness. But when you feel good you forget how hard it all can be sometimes. So today as I enjoy the hours of happiness and relief, I wanted to help others understand maybe just a little.
I am leaving space here. To the mothers, or struggling souls who have other suggestions I will add anything you like. Say what you need. It will come to you when you need it.
Space for you.