What does caregiver burnout look like?

It’s a phrase that I hear quite a lot, and after a weekend where I really felt burnt out. I thought I’d look at the question, what does caregiver burnout look like? First of all, I’ve never viewed myself as a carer. I’m just a dad looking after his kids, the way any good dad would. It is safe to say I feel burnt out at times, but what do people mean when they say that? How do you know if you or someone you know is feeling this way?

Answering the question

If you google, what does caregiver burnout look like? The first answer you will see, looks like this.

What does caregiver burnout look like?

“A caregiver with burnout has become overwhelmed and is physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from the stress and burden (I don’t particularly like the word burden, but these aren’t my words) of caring for their loved one. They may feel alone, unsupported, or unappreciated. They often haven’t been taking good care of themselves and may be depressed.

I have made all the important words bold, these are the things you need to look out for. Whether it’s for yourself, because if you like me, you don’t notice the signs until they are on top of you. Until they have become a problem, and as with anything it is better to work on preventing it happening. Than to react one it has happened. Or if you know someone who is a caregiver, a family member or friend. Then look out for these signs for them. Most caregivers I’ve come across rarely ask for help, but I assure you they probably need it. Even if it’s just checking in on them for a chat, you can make a big difference to how they are feeling.

Not taking care of yourself and depression

I am diagnosed with depression, and my battles with the condition date back long before the kids arrived on the scene. There have been some difficult times, especially with Jack when his behaviour have been out of control. When we had massive problems at his old school, where quite frankly he was neglected, you can read about that in more detail by clicking here – “Our Special School Horror Story” so the situation has certainly made my depression more difficult to manage, and my self care can become non existent.

I try to remind myself that to be the best I can for my children, I need to look after myself first. It can be difficult though, there is a lot of stress involved. Different carers have different stress, for us at the moment a lot of the stress revolves around school, and not being completely sure what Jack and Lily’s capability’s will be as they grow up. It’s also about keeping anxiety and meltdowns in check, whilst for others the demands are more towards physical care. No matter what it is, the strain physically, emotionally and mentally takes it’s toll.

Feeling alone

The major thing that often affects cares, is the feeling of being alone, unsupported and unappreciated. This happens to varying degrees, in all different directions. I’ve heard stories of people having their families completely turn their back on them, or one of the parents walking out and leaving the other one to do it all alone. Thankfully this hasn’t happened to us. I don’t know that everyone in our families fully understands the situation we are in, it’s difficult too unless you’ve experienced it yourself. They have all stuck around and been supportive though.

We haven’t had any issues of people being openly “jealous”, and complain we get money just to stay at home. Which I know is something that happens a lot. As for unappreciated, the £67 a week carers allowance we get, doesn’t scratch the surface of what it would cost if the people we cared for we’re taken into care. Depending on the needs of person it can be thousands of pounds a day!

The current Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how unappreciated carers are. Suddenly all the services stop, leaving us to care 24/7, and we are pretty much the only group of people not being offered an extra help. Once again if you know a caregiver, show them a bit of appreciation, and support them if you can. It could be the little lift that keeps them going.

Feeling overwhelmed

What all the above boils down to, and what for me really answers the question, what does caregiver burnout look like? Is the feeling of being over whelmed. This past Saturday I felt completely overwhelmed, I’m not really sure where it came from, but it was a really difficult day. I struggled with everything, and to be honest I spent most of the day doing nothing but be grumpy and snappy with everyone.

Being cheered up by the kids

The only time I cheered up was when Lily got me playing what’s in the box? Thankfully I felt a bit more myself on Sunday, then Jack asked to go out for a walk and pay PokemonGo. Normally it would be a 20-30 minute walk around the block, but Jack was feeling especially adventurous. We went to a small nature reserve near us, and decided to venture as far as we could. Things got interesting when the path was cut of by a stream, which had some broken logs across it as a bridge. There was at least a 1 metre drop down to the other side.

Jack wouldn’t be deterred so we got across and kept going. Eventually the path became completely over grown and we had to turn back, much to Jack’s disappointment. It’s obviously not been used much. Getting back across the stream was a bit more interesting, but we just about managed it. We saw a frog hopping about, which Jack was fascinated with. On the way back, we saw some horses, which Jack also enjoyed.

We had a great time, and it’s the sort of thing I definitely want to do more of. I was tired when we got back, but after a 30 minute rest. I suddenly realised how much better I was feeling. And therein lies the conundrum, the people we care for may well cause us worry and stress. Plus a whole load of other emotions, but they can also be the ones that make us so happy.

Show support for carers

Right now people are showing great support to our NHS staff, carers and key workers. I just hope that when this pandemic is finally over, people don’t forget the importance of all these people. Obviously I’m looking at carers here, people who are often unappreciated and looked down on. Show these people the support they deserve.

Dad Does Autism

My name is Adam. I live with my partner Natalie, and our 2 children Jack and Lily. Both children are autistic, it is now my mission to show what life around autism is like. Spread the awareness and gain the acceptance that autistic people deserve.

48 thoughts on “What does caregiver burnout look like?

  • May 18, 2020 at 3:43 pm
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    Sending much love brother, you have my upmost respect for what you do!

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    • May 18, 2020 at 7:22 pm
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      Cheers buddy, not like you to get sentimental 😉I really appreciate it mate. Thank you

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  • May 18, 2020 at 4:34 pm
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    I’m not at all surprised you have moments of burnout. I’m not sure how I would cope in your situation but I hope I’m not reaching if I posit that perhaps Jack recognised you needed more than the usual walk and that’s why he took you for a longer ramble. To calm down and get in contact with nature. Kids are wiser than we give them credit for, I think. Take care, Lisa x

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    • May 18, 2020 at 7:25 pm
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      You could very well be right, Jack always seems to be able to sense when someone isn’t “right”, it used to lead to difficult behaviours, but he know likes to try and help people. He now says he wants to go back everyday, probably because we both enjoyed it so much.

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  • May 18, 2020 at 5:05 pm
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    I can imagine how much burnout you go through, but what you show is that you never give up and always remain positive. You’re an inspiration to all

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    • May 18, 2020 at 7:26 pm
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      Cheers mate, I really appreciate you saying that. I do my best to stay as positive as I can.

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  • May 18, 2020 at 5:53 pm
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    Carers deserve a lot more credit and respect than they are given, thank you for pointing this out.

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    • May 18, 2020 at 7:27 pm
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      Thank you for your comment, they absolutely do, you are right.

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  • May 18, 2020 at 6:36 pm
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    Really great post. It must be so difficult, but you do a great job!

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    • May 18, 2020 at 7:28 pm
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      Thank you for your comment,
      I really appreciate it. I try my best.

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  • May 18, 2020 at 7:16 pm
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    This is such an important topic. As a former social worker and teacher, I have experienced caregiver burnout myself. But being a caregiver to someone you live with is a 24 hour job. Please take the time to take care of yourself.

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    • May 18, 2020 at 7:30 pm
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      Thank you, I do my best and I certainly include those who do it as a job, when I talk about carers needing to be appreciated more, but yes when it’s someone you live with there is very rarely any clocking off, for some people there never is.

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    • May 18, 2020 at 8:45 pm
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      Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate you taking the time to read 😊

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  • May 18, 2020 at 9:13 pm
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    I have a 5 and 3 year old and this is very very real, especially while distancing from my helpers (mom and mother in law). It’s very hard, and I hope anyone reading this knows they are not alone.

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    • May 18, 2020 at 10:15 pm
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      Not being able to fall back on the people who normally help you, is certainly taking its toll at the moment.

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  • May 18, 2020 at 10:31 pm
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    I know this all too well. In addition to being sick myself, I am watching my mother getting caregiver burnout and helping as much as I can. Self-care of course is the “remedy” but when do you find the time?!

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    • May 19, 2020 at 12:25 pm
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      Self care is absolutely the remedy, but so difficult to justify taking time for yourself when someone is relying on you, but you somehow have to find little snippets of time.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 12:07 am
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    Burnout for any task is a real thing! We need to make sure that our mental state is taken care of, and of course, balance everything!! I like the differents you have shared.

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

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    • May 19, 2020 at 12:26 pm
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      Thank you for your comment, it certainly is real, and taking care of your own mental state is so important.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 12:31 am
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    I admire that you always find ways of staying positive and sharing your experiences. Really enjoy your blog posts! Burnout is definitely a real problem that many people don’t acknowledge. It’s great that you’re raising awareness to the issue. Thank you. 😊

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    • May 19, 2020 at 12:27 pm
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      Thank you, I really appreciate you saying that, I try my best 😊

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  • May 19, 2020 at 8:56 am
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    A very important message, thank you for sharing it. I do hope for carers to be recognised properly one day.

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    • May 19, 2020 at 12:32 pm
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      Thank you I try to do my bit, that’s certainly what I hope to.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 9:58 am
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    This is a really important topic to highlight. Especially given the current circumstances. Although this isn’t something I’ve personally experienced, I know when my mum used to care for my granddad last year when he was sick and nearing the end of his life, it was a huge task and although she pushed through, it was evident how burnt out she was. I really admire all caregivers – whatever their situation x

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    • May 19, 2020 at 12:37 pm
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      My sister in law passed away after a very long battle with illness and disability, the toll it took on my partner and her parents is impossible to describe, but they never stopped. What people like your mum do is incredible, and often taken for granted.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 10:03 am
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    This is such an important post, thanks so much for sharing!
    I work for a charity that makes clothes for disabled people, which means I meet a lot of carers including parents who don’t consider themselves to be carers but to look after children with varying degrees of physical or learning disabilities and burnout is very common. It’s definitely something that isn’t talked about enough, especially the toll on mental health during the pandemic.
    Hope you’re taking care!

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

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    • May 19, 2020 at 12:39 pm
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      That charity sounds great 😊 burnout is far to common and there’s not enough support out there, in fact there’s probably less support than ever.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 10:20 am
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    I hope people don’t forget what others do after this is over too. You are doing an amazing job, both you and your partner. Everyone feels burnout at some point but it is easy to forget just how much caregivers do. I always admire the way you and your partner cope. You’re very active, always doing something fun and still write a blog post daily. It is something I think about a lot. Thank you for raising awareness for caregiver burnout. I think people need to consider this more and think about just how much the NHS and carers do.

    Em x

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    • May 19, 2020 at 12:49 pm
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      Thank you, I’ve accepted burnout is just part of life now, it just irks me when people think people like us have an “easy” life. And there are people who have it much tougher than we do…single parents, more severe needs etc.. I find it reassuring when people do recognise what carers do, and if anyone isn’t recognising what the NHS does for us right now, then there is no hope for them.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 11:55 am
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    Good post. I had this kinda depression once. However, I learned a lot about self-love and care from the depression.

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    • May 19, 2020 at 12:50 pm
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      Thank you for your comment, self care is certainly the medicine that you need.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 12:29 pm
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    This is such an important topic to highight, carers definitely deserve more credit, especially those that care for someone 100% of the time. And in this time where you can’t get assistance from family members outside of the household too. You’d have to be a robot to not experience burnout sometimes. You always sound like you’re doing an incredible job!

    Sophie

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    • May 19, 2020 at 1:12 pm
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      Thank you, you’d certainly have to be a super human to never feel burnt out, we’ve been lucky that the kids have dealt with the lockdown a lot better than we thought.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 1:06 pm
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    Such an important thing to highlight at the minute, a lot of people are trying too hard to be productive and too everything they can during this lockdown so burnout becomes a real issue, thanks for sharing this!

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    • May 19, 2020 at 1:14 pm
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      Thank you, you are right I was a bit guilty of wanted to do to much, but I’ve realised that’s not the right way to be going about things right now. It’s all about balance.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 1:07 pm
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    Carers have all the respect in the world from me, making sacrifices for the people they love.

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    • May 19, 2020 at 1:13 pm
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      Thank you for your comment, you do have to make sacrifices, but they are worth it.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 1:11 pm
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    This is such an important topic and something that definitely needs to be publicised more – burnout is so real, in so many areas of life but I imagine when you’re a caregiver it’s even more vital to spot these signs and take a break and recharge when possible so you’re in the best state of mind and body to continue doing the great job you do! Thank you for sharing your personal experiences and shedding more light on it! I definitely agree that NHS workers and carers in general deserve so much more support and I really hope the praise they’re getting now for what they and you do, day in and day out, continues. Thanks for sharing!

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    • May 19, 2020 at 1:18 pm
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      Thank you, it is indeed difficult to know when to step away for your own good. Some people find it harder than other. I’ve seen people who try to take responsibility of everything 24/7 until they completely break down. Sometimes that’s what it takes for you too realise you can’t do it all unfortunately, but even then the support is often not forthcoming when you want it.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 9:22 pm
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    Love that you have shared your personal experiences with burnout! I know I have gone through moments where the smallest things feel overwhelming, yet I feel like there is nothing else to do but to keep going because doing nothing feels worse then doing something.

    It is wonderful you found some joy in your kids, and that you had such a lovely walk! There are quite a number of creeks and suspicious puddles up where I live, more so now because it is raining.

    Carers of all kinds do so much more then many of us realize, and the smallest amount of appreciation goes a long way. Thank you for sharing this!

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    • May 20, 2020 at 12:57 am
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      Thank you, feeling overwhelmed I find such a strange feeling, the kids have had be busy again, more stream and trees and horses 😂

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  • May 20, 2020 at 2:41 pm
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    This is such a great post! Burnout is real and can happen at any time especially when you are least expecting it. I am glad you went a walk with Jack though maybe he sensed that you needed a longer walk to recharge.

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    • May 20, 2020 at 4:19 pm
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      I liked read you story and about your family! Keep writing it is good share your experience!

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      • May 20, 2020 at 5:27 pm
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        Thank you for your comment and I’m glad you enjoyed reading 😊

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    • May 20, 2020 at 5:25 pm
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      Thank you, jack has a way of knowing when you are struggling and doing things to help, so you could be right.

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  • May 24, 2020 at 4:26 pm
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    This is a really important and interesting insight into the toll that being a carer takes on people. I loved the line about the people we care for causing us stress, but also making us happy.

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    • May 24, 2020 at 9:22 pm
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      Thank you 😊

      Reply

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