9 Caregivers Share What Burnout Felt Like for Them
Burnout is real and real caregivers experience it. Caregiver burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that impacts every aspect of a person’s life. It can feel like constant tiredness that you can’t shake off, changes in your behavior, loss of interest in things you once loved, or continuously feeling down.
Because everyone is different, everyone can experience caregiver burnout in various ways. But unfortunately, many don’t realize that they’re burning out until they’ve reached the final stage: habitual burnout, which is ongoing mental, physical, and emotional problems that embed themselves into daily life.
Since burnout can happen to anyone, we spoke with caregivers to share how burnout felt for them. We hope their experience can shine a light on the many ways caregiver burnout can manifest itself.
1. “It felt stressful and overwhelming. I felt sad and frustrated, and anger. I lose my patience with my mom. I lose my patience with myself and my friends and other family members.” - Patti La Fleur
2. “I was burned out well before I realized that that was what I was experiencing. I looked in the mirror, and I didn't recognize myself. I no longer had compassion for myself, for my dad, who I was caring for, or for anyone.” - Theresa Wilbanks
3. “For me, I felt overwhelmed. Sometimes I can start to feel burnout happening before I actually hit rock bottom. You can feel the tension and stress. I notice that I don’t breathe enough when I’m feeling burnout.” - Kris McCabe
4. “I would not be able to complete tasks at a normal pace. I would get agitated at people for asking simple questions.” - Jacquelyn Revere
5. “Everything felt so impossible and stressful. And I didn't know what to do because I had so many things I had to do for others. I didn't feel like I had any time for myself, and so it created this negative space of emotions and feelings and stress that was really challenging to navigate as a caregiver.” - Patti La Fleur
6. “My physical self was exhausted, my emotional self was weakened, and my spiritual self was tested. This was my ‘Aha’ moment that I was burnt out.” - Alma Valencia
7. “I would say some of the signs were being short-tempered. I would say not being able to think great, so having foggy or cloudy thoughts. Not being able to be succinct. Since I’m a person who stutters, I would stutter a lot more when my burnout came.” - Jacquelyn Revere
8. “I felt anger, so much anger, and frustration, and my ability to cope just was diminished. Like, my coping skills were no longer there, no longer effective.” - Thersea Wilbanks
9. “I eventually felt apathy. Which is not like me. I’m usually very ‘go, go, go,’ excited about life, I’m passionate. I love meeting people, and I’m excited to hear their stories. But when I got to a place where I felt nothing, I had used all of my emotions on everyone else but me. That was another sign to me of caregiver burnout.” - Michelle Seitzer
10. “I just remember feeling anxious and stressed out and angry and frustrated. I was like, ‘Whoa, what is this?’” - Ty Lewis
11. “My bout with caregiver burnout started one night when I was feeling distressed. I wanted to give up. I fell into this depression. I felt isolated and alone. I didn’t want to [be a caregiver] anymore.” - Carlos Olivas
12. “My emotional and physical health had taken such a toll, I would just easily cry. I didn’t find interest in things I used to love to do. I craved time to feel myself, and I never felt like I was doing enough.” - Elizabeth Miller
13. “I first noticed that I felt like I could snap at the residents that I normally enjoyed talking to and having conversations with. I found myself being very short with them.” - Michelle Seitzer
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