Parental Burnout: Getting Help to Get better

Parental Burnout: Getting Help to Get better

“I can’t do it anymore!”

I said it. It was not easy but I needed to let emotions go and tell the truth. I didn’t know it but I had hit parental burnout. It did not come out of nowhere but I had kept the situation at a distance for some time. I did not want to show my weaknesses. I did not want people to see this side of me. 

For months and months I kept repeating to myself that I could manage, that some other women had more than one kid, some had more issues, illness, parents to deal with and they could make it work at the end of the day. Therefore, I could too. 

The breaking point

Then, one day, I found myself locked in the bathroom, crying. Tears were heavy and on the other side of the door was my kid but I could not come out; I could not find the strength to make a step towards him; I could not get past my anger and pain—like I had many times in the past—and give him a hug.

I was not myself anymore. In addition, after every crisis, I hated myself. I was afraid of my violence, of the words, of what my own body and mind were able to do towards the most precious person of my life. I even asked myself at some stage if I really loved my son and if it would not be better to let him go live with other people. Home wasn’t safe. Family life felt like hell. 

Mama Burnout


I was so ashamed I could not tell other mums or even family or friends. How can one say “I don’t like being with my child?” I was thinking that if I tell, Social Services would take my child away from me; or worse, give him to his dad. I could not imagine this.

I kept smiling outside, and the worst is that people told me I was a good mum. They didn’t know how awful these words made me feel, even guiltier than I felt already! 

I kept crying indoors. I thought about my son, the one who helped me get away from an abusive marriage. And, here I was, making a mess of his life. 

I cried for a long time this day and when I got out, I made myself only one promise: ask for help.

Asking for help

A week later, I was spilling my guts in front of a psychologist. I told her all the things I could not tell myself. I said out loud that I was scared to go home, that I was scared to cause harm to my son, that I could not go on like this, exhausted, feeling empty and mentally absent. I told her I was just surviving, doing the things that needed to be done.

Week after week I let go, I told her the chaos, my violent outbursts that I could not control, the fear in my son’s eyes when I was shouting and knocking on the walls, my wish, many times, to kill myself as it was becoming too hard and harmful for both of us. I was losing confidence as a mother, as a woman, as an individual. My life was slipping out of control. 

Naming it

This is called parental burnout. It refers to a prolonged situation of emotional imbalance, where the burdens of stress overcome personal resources to deal with life as it is. It can be compared to post-partum depression but it’s mostly linked to one’s parenting role and tasks. 

Asking for help saved my family. I started writing at the same time, sharing my story with others, as guilt and shame were slowly fading. It’s not something I like to remember but I know that personal experiences can be of help. When facing such hardships in one’s life, loneliness is a killer.

We should all be strong together, being able to listen, without judgement, but with an attitude that will help women to open up before it’s too late. Parental burnout is a real and scary reality for many parents, especially single moms.

Have you heard about parental burnout before? Have you been there or do you know someone living such an experience?

Marie Kléber

Marie is from France and is living near Paris, after spending 6 years in Irlande. She is a single mum of one, sharing her time between work, family life and writing, her passion. She already wrote 6 books in her native langage. She loves reading, photography, meeting friends and sharing life experiences. She blogs about domestic abuse, parenting and poetry @

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NETHERLANDS: The shape of a mother

mirjam_texgramMy mother used to say the same thing whenever I was sick: “Well, your hands are not sick.”

She expected me to do my chores and not to make a big deal about being sick. It was a motto she lived by. When I think of her in those days, I cannot picture her sitting down or lying in bed. She was always busy taking care of us and taking care of the house. I can almost imagine her feeling sick in the morning and saying to herself: “Well your hands are not sick,” and getting on with business as usual. I have tried to live up to this motto as long as I can remember.

This image of a mother that takes care of her family regardless the circumstances, was printed in the core of my being.

When I got diagnosed with depression, I was deeply conflicted within myself. Every moment that I needed for myself, every day that I couldn’t go on as usual, troubled me. I judged myself. There is always something the matter with you. Are you sick again? I felt like a sad excuse for a mother. I pitied my children and husband for having to live with me. Being sick has always been a powerful trigger for me to sink deep into depression.

In 2011 I got diagnosed with depression, which led to a long struggle with dealing with my depression and undergoing extensive therapy. Just as I started to feel a little bit better in 2013, I broke my right shoulder and as it started to heal, I had to have my gallbladder removed. After that, a long period of feeling sick and dealing with throat problems, led to a tonsillectomy in 2015. In 2016 my doctor referred me to a rheumatologist. The word rheumatoid arthritis was mentioned. I’m still in the process of finding a diagnosis and proper treatment.

But I am doing fine. In a sense, I am grateful. It is easy to find joy when you’re healthy and pain free. When you’re walking in the sunshine it isn’t as hard to be hopeful. I have learned to enjoy every single ray of light when walking in the shadows. I do have my occasional pity parties, and I indulge in them, because I allow myself to feel, to grieve, to be sad when I need to. But my pity parties end and when they end, I pick up positivity and make the most of what I have.

Depression always lurks in the shadows. But it is more a kind of melancholy that accompanies me, reminding me of its existence. It doesn’t bother me as much, nor does it scare me the way it used to.

I feel fine, I feel happy. We’re almost in the 11th month of 2016 and I have had approximately two days this year without physical pain. The other days have fluctuated between noticeable pain, manageable pain and excruciating pain. All things considered I still feel blessed. It could have been so much worse. I still feel privileged and grateful.

I have reshaped my image of what a mother is supposed to look like. No longer is she shaped like a rock, a bulldozer, a mechanical machine. She is covered in flesh, imperfect, she bleeds, she falls, she lifts, she cries, she smiles. She is shaped like a human.

How has your concept of motherhood changed since you had children?

This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Mirjam in the Netherlands.


Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands.
She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life.
Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home.
She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera.
Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it.
She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways.
But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself.
You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.

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CANADA: Let’s Talk About Teen Depression

CANADA: Let’s Talk About Teen Depression

bell_lets_talk2About a week before Halloween last year, a teenage boy named Joshua committed suicide. He had graduated Grade 8 at my son’s school just four months previously, and in September he had started attending the local high school across the road. Everything was going well. He was adjusting to high school and making new friends, and he was happy.

Except he wasn’t.

About six weeks after the start of the new school year, Joshua’s younger brother Tommy needed help with his homework. He knocked on Joshua’s bedroom door and went in, expecting to see Joshua hard at work on his own homework. Instead, Tommy saw the body of his brother hanging from the curtain rail by a belt.

Nobody knows what drove Joshua to such a tragic extreme. He never spoke of any crises, there was no bullying that anyone was aware of, and he seemed to be fitting in well at his new school. In the absence of any other answers, Joshua’s family are slowly arriving at the conclusion that this was a case of teen depression that was never detected.

What makes teen depression so hard to identify is that so many of the symptoms and warning signs are seen as just a part of being an adolescent. As young people experience the firestorm of pubescent hormones, they start to speak and act differently. They become self-conscious about their bodies, they display the infamous “teenage attitude”, they fight all kinds of internal battles as they try to figure out who they are. Self-esteem takes a knock, they may become withdrawn, aggressive or both, and they start to guard their privacy more closely than before.

Yes, all of these things are typical teenage behaviours. But they are also typical behaviours of people experiencing depression.

It creates a minefield for parents, who have to balance respect for their child’s growing need for privacy with enough vigilance to know when something is wrong.

The Canadian statistics surrounding youth and mental illness are deeply troubling:

  • Up to 20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness
  • Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world
  • Suicide accounts for 24% of teen deaths in Canada – the second leading cause of death in this age group

(Source: Centre for Addiction & Mental Health)

So what can we as parents do to keep our children safe from the ravages of mental illness? How do we tell if a teen is just being a teen or if there is something else going on? I did an informal survey of parents, teachers and mental health practitioners, and this is the advice they had to offer:

  • Create open lines of communication with your children from as early an age as possible. If they grow up knowing they can talk to you about anything, they will be more likely to approach you if something is wrong.
  • Make mental health a topic of conversation in your household, just as you talk about physical health. You encourage your kids to tell you if they are not feeling physically well – the same should happen if they are not feeling mentally well.
  • Allow your teen to have privacy, but establish an understanding that his or her privacy only goes so far. Social media accounts should be set up under your supervision, and you should know the passwords.
  • Ensure that your teen has access to a trusted adult apart from you. Every adolescent has things that they are not comfortable talking to their own parents about, but they still need guidance on those things. It could be an aunt or uncle, a teacher, or a family friend.
  • Watch out for changes in behaviour patterns. It is normal for teens to go through periods of being irritable or emotional. If it lasts for a longer time than usual, or if it is accompanied by changes to eating or sleeping patterns, there might be something going on.
  • If your teen starts to wear clothing that doesn’t make sense – such as long sleeves in summer – they may be hiding the marks of self-injury.
  • When in doubt, simply ask. Many teens struggle alone with depression or anxiety because they simply don’t know how to talk about it. All they need is for the conversation to be opened.

Teen depression – or any mental illness – is very frightening for the teenager, and for the loved ones. The bad news is that right now, mental health services are only being provided to one in five Canadian kids who need them – mostly because the need is not being identified. The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, getting help can make a huge positive difference in the lives of these kids.

How do you approach discussions of mental illness in your family? Have you ever had to seek treatment for a child or a teenager suffering from a mental illness?

Today, January 27th, is Bell Let’s Talk day in Canada. For every tweet using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, and for every Facebook share of the image in this post, Bell Canada will donate five cents to mental health initiatives.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle. Image courtesy of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign for mental health awareness.


Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny).

Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels.

When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum.

Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world.

Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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USA: The Mirror

USA: The Mirror


I don’t ever remember not feeling this way. I just know from an early age that I felt things a little deeper than my other friends or family. My feelings could be hurt so easily, and when I was little, I remember crying for days after my Grandma would leave from a visit because I missed her so much.

As I got older and went into high school, I still felt things very deeply, but didn’t want others to know if something bothered me. I would cover it up in front of others and cry when I would get home. Which sounds like most teen age girls, I know. But, this was a little different. I would try to cover up my feelings of inadequacy and then my feelings turned to anxiety over whether other people would know how sensitive I really was.

Something would happen during the day and it would stay with me for days afterward. I would think about it over and over and then the anxiety led to feelings of such sadness and it seemed like a pit I could never get out of. My parents noticed that I was sad a lot, and they did talk to me. I know they cared, but it was like nothing could take away the anxiety and sadness. They thought I was just a teenage girl with overactive hormones.

In college, I studied hard and tried to be the “good girl”. I knew I wasn’t perfect, and I tried so hard to cover up my imperfections. By this point, I was really good at covering up my true feelings of how I felt inside. I worried obsessively about almost everything and doubted myself in the process. I could go for days without eating because my stomach was in knots. Exam time was the worst. I would go over and over in my head what I put for answers. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and that obsessive worrying led to such sadness that it was hard to even get out of bed some days.

I remember my first job out of college and coming home so exhausted that it was all I could do to wash my face and roll into bed at night.

I remember looking in the mirror and wondering what people would think of me if they saw me just like I was…red eyes, bags underneath them, my complexion broken out…would people really want to see the real me…or the “me” I show to them everyday.

I worried so much about everything being perfect in my classroom that some evenings, I would have to force myself to go home because I probably could have stayed all night to make everything just right. Right about that time, a new song came out on the radio by P!ink called “Don’t Let me Get Me”. I remember some of the lyrics to that song, “Don’t let me get me…I’m my own worst enemy.” I had never heard a song describe so perfectly how I had always been feeling inside.

Why was I so critical of myself? Why could I never cut myself a break?

At about the same time, I remember talking with my mother on the phone and pouring my heart out to her. She suggested that I should go and talk to someone and maybe I would feel better about things.

I did go ahead and talk with someone and discovered that I did suffer and probably had been suffering from anxiety and depression for most of my life. I remember feeling so ashamed of hearing her tell me that. Wasn’t that a sign of weakness if I couldn’t just will myself to be happy?

To make a VERY long story a bit shorter, I fought the idea that I had anything wrong with me for a few years until one day when my husband came home from work, I just cried in his arms for almost an hour and I could see in his eyes he didn’t know what to do. I knew it was time for me to really try to take control of this thing that seemed to be taking control of me. After coming to that point, I decided that it was time to face what I had been running away from for so long. With some help, I learned how I could manage my anxiety better which also helped with my depression.

When I stayed home with my children and stopped teaching, I poured my all into being a mother. I was and still am so very happy that I was able to become a mother to two amazing human beings. But, it is still a struggle with myself each and everyday to keep my nagging anxious thoughts at bay and not let them overwhelm my mind. Now that I know what it is, it is so much easier to face it.

Then, a few weeks ago, my seven year old daughter came home from school and we were talking about her day and she told me that she thought she hadn’t done well on a test at school. I asked her why and then she started to cry and told me it was because she wasn’t as smart as the other children in her class. I told her that of course she was just as smart or smarter than those other students and that she should know that.

She said, “No, I don’t. I always feel like I am not as good as them.”

OUCH!!!! That struck a chord with me. How had this happened? I was supposed to be the “good” mom. I had never once told my daughter that she wasn’t good enough. In fact, we had done just the opposite. My husband and I have actually always been both her and my son’s personal cheerleaders. Where did this come from? I gave her a big hug and told her not to worry about her test and that it would all be fine. She had her snack and went to change her clothes. As she walked away, I got tears in my eyes. I know part of growing up is having feelings of not being good enough, but I also know how it feels to carry that feeling with you your whole life. That was not what I wanted for my daughter.

That night after the kids went to bed, I told my husband what she had said and other things I had noticed that made me worry that she was feeling low about herself. He said, “Have you looked in the mirror? She is a little you.” My husband has always been my cheerleader, and can always see the good in me even if I don’t see it. And, I know he always tells me the truth even when I may not be ready to hear it.

Over the next few days, I thought about what he had said and how I had felt growing up. I was determined that I would do everything in my power to help my daughter to not feel that way. When I was young, no one really ever talked about feelings of depression or anxiety. It was just attributed to people being too soft or high spirited.

Today, even though it isn’t always openly talked about, we can now talk about anxiety and depression without as much stigma being attached to it. My hope is that my daughter and my son do not have to struggle for years because people are too embarrassed to talk about it. I hope that my children do not have to go through what I went through.

I know this post may be a little too personal for some, but I am hoping that we, as mothers, take notice of our children if we think they are exhibiting signs of increased anxiety or depression. It can start young or later on and maybe not all for some. But, if your child had a heart condition or broke a limb, you would do whatever you could to help your child. Talking about depression or any other mental illness needs to be the same thing.

My hope is that by writing about this, it will help keep the dialogue going that seems to be starting to rumble in recent years about mental health. People who are suffering from mental illness are truly suffering inside and they need to know that is okay to reach out to someone without feeling embarrassed or scared.

These days, I have a new favorite song by Mary Lambert entitled “Secrets”. It is such a liberating song (but don’t listen to it around your kids…it does have a little bad language). It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly, I have become a friend to myself. I am seeing that it is okay to be kind and give myself a break. I am consciously choosing to be positive to myself and in the process, I am finding out I am really not so bad.

My hope is that my own positive outlook and self talk will emanate to my daughter. When she looks in her own mirror, I want her to see someone who is strong, beautiful and good. And, if we need to get a little extra help along the way, then so be it. Life is a journey and we are all a work in progress.

Have you or your children struggled with anxiety or depression? How have you handled it?

This is an original post to world Moms Blog by Meredith. you can check out her adventures as living as an expat in Nigeria and her transition back on her blog at

The photo in this post has a creative commons attribute license.

Meredith (USA)

Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.

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FRANCE: Late Encounter With Life

FRANCE: Late Encounter With Life

marie life encounterI don’t know how your pregnancy went. I can tell you that mine was far from perfect, far from the dream I once had of what my life as a pregnant woman would be. I had it all planned, but nothing went according to plan. I was not sick but I was overly tired. And what made it all wrong was that something was missing in my marriage: there was a lack of communication and real love.

Many women say that the first meeting with their baby is the first ultrasound. Ultrasound technology has improved so much over the past decades. You can already see life inside you, before even feeling it. The second ultrasound was the worst for me, the one I went to, alone once again. When I was done, I stepped outside under the rain and cried. I was lost, not knowing whether I had made the right choice, keeping the baby. I was dealing with painful emotions on my own.

Pregnancy can be a fabulous experience. And it can be a terrific time too. It’s something we ought to remember, because if we don’t, it can cause much damage. We can quickly feel guilty for not feeling good. We can quickly feel that we are not good enough.

Society keeps telling us that we should only rejoice and be in the best mood, that carrying a baby in our womb is amazing, that many don’t have this chance, that the baby inside feels everything.

Morning sickness, depression, rising hormone levels, pelvic pain. We can all relate to this, at one stage or another. That does not make us bad mothers. It just reminds us that we are human beings, dealing with many thoughts and ideas, dealing with struggles which often show up again after many years of survival.

By the third ultrasound, my life was all upside down. I had already created a lake with all my tears. I had left my husband and the country I was living in. At the last ultrasound, I decided to ask whether it was a boy or a girl. I thought maybe this would help me to connect with my child, to reconnect.

But there was no miracle. I was still afraid of the life growing inside me. I lived through more downs than ups. I thought about giving my baby away when I was not thinking about taking my own life.

I could say that delivery changed it all, but it wouldn’t be true. I had a beautiful time. One of my best friends was with me. She cried with me, she suffered with me, she enjoyed this special time with me. I think I was on another planet.

Babies have the power to erase all things around them. You listen to their breath. You can watch them sleep for hours. And the world stops turning around. You feel safe for a while. I can say it was love at first sight. I loved this baby boy,  as I started loving him the day I spotted the signs on the pregnancy test. But it felt quite unreal. Something was missing. I could not stop thinking about how this baby could love me back.

It lasted for two years. We were together and yet I could not put words on what we were living together. I was afraid of my baby boy. I was afraid of what I could miss with him. I was scared to hold him in my arms, to give him his bath. I could not stop thinking “it’s going to be easier when he’ll start walking, or talking”. I could not stop the flow of negative thinking “not good enough”. He was alive and I was almost dead.

It took me two years to realize that I was alive too.

One day I spotted both of us laughing, in front of the mirror in the living room. Life burst out of the room, out of our bodies, out of our hearts beating together again. I realized that we were both alive, that I was the best mum for him. By taking away everything that I believed in, life gave me a second chance, a chance I was willing to take care of.

How did it go for you? Did you suffer from depression after birth? Or did you enjoy the happiness of motherhood from the beginning?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kleber from France. Photo credit to the author.

Marie Kléber

Marie is from France and is living near Paris, after spending 6 years in Irlande. She is a single mum of one, sharing her time between work, family life and writing, her passion. She already wrote 6 books in her native langage.
She loves reading, photography, meeting friends and sharing life experiences. She blogs about domestic abuse, parenting and poetry @

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