Burnout, depression, anxiety. These are not happy words. They are pretty darn scary. Throw in career stress, a special needs child, money worries, and well, you have a recipe for disaster. Or maybe not? You see, as an anxious child, anxious teenager, then later anxious adult, I had been building up to my burnouts all my life. The first one occurred in my early thirties with a major move away, a job loss, and being thrown off balance of all I knew. I recovered. It was an isolated incident or so I thought. Then I realized what I had learned in that burnout. I need to take better care of my health, mental and physical. I need to pace myself, go out and have fun with friends, stop being so critical.
I did all right for a while, then came motherhood with all its beauty and glory. I was thrown into caring 24/7 for another human being and lost a lot of what I learned. Add to this that said little person has autism and anxiety, and I was trying to hold it together for him. This would be challenging to any parent, but a worrier like me who tries to be all things to all people, (can someone say superwoman complex?), and well, burnout number two hit in my early forties with no surprise.
It was even scarier than burnout number one.
But you know what else. It was the freakin’ best thing that ever happened to me. My eyes were opened so wide climbing up from the darkness and moving into the light. I needed to do a complete personality makeover to be there to enjoy the next leg of my life. First to go was my all- consuming need to control everything. I learned a new word: delegation. I learned how to say no. That was hard because then guilt crept in. I worked on myself, I went for massages, I went underwear shopping for real sexy pretty underwear. I did a massive career change. Why? Because all of this scared the heck out of me and it was time I got scared. My burnout did the equivalent of throwing cold water in my face. When I came to, I was rattled and picking up the pieces I rebuilt and became stronger.
I learned at 41 years old how to take care of myself, really take care of myself – body, mind and spirit. I stopped taking crap from everybody, most importantly myself, and I learned that meditation, yoga, exercise are not luxuries for a special needs moms. They are survival necessities. I also learned that I need to write all the time. No excuses. This is my therapy, my salvation, my spirit, as is the air I breathe. And yeah, I’m a little on the anxious side still, but have done a 360 from the yes woman, push down your frustration super woman I was.
Now I’m Joanne. Perfectly imperfect.
Learning each day how to be stronger, better, healthier and helping other moms to do the same. You see, as a parent coach to other moms, when I say I know what you are going through, I mean it 100%. My forties have turned into the best time of my life. The personal makeover I’ve given myself is the best gift there is. And I’m hoping to show my son that you don’t have to wait until your forties to do your own thing. You can and should be yourself now. I feel like I’ve finally come into myself, beautiful inside and out, accepting my flaws, my strengths, and loving me anyway as it should be. So I am grateful for that deep dark time, and I am the first person to agree with a good friend who told me “at forty your life begins.” So it does.