Welcome to part 6 of a 7 part series celebrating World Doula Week 2018!
So, y'all... burnout is real. And I'm in the muck of it. Tomorrow, I'll celebrate/humble-brag about all of the things I accomplished since I became a doula in 2015 but, for now, I have to be honest about where I'm at in my journey.
Last year, I pushed myself to my limit with trainings, teaching classes, doing births, and my full-time job. I often went on 24 hour stretches without sleep and my voice of reason/everyone (See Days 2 & 3) was telling me to slow the eff down. I was chronically stressed, getting sick almost constantly, irritable, fatigued, forgetful... the works.
I would easily tell others to slow the eff down if they were in the same position as me but, I had a huge fear of it. Slowing down meant that I had to grapple with the big lump in my throat, chest tightening, and tears welling. It is the fear that I won't be able to live out my dream of going full-time with Mama Fox Doula.
I wound up doing all this work to forget about my fear and, if birth has taught me anything, you can't run from your fears. Or work your way around them. I have to face it. Unfortunately, me facing it meant that I, first, had to knock myself on my ass with a perfect cocktail of high-functioning depression/anxiety/mental breakdown.
I'm going to therapy regularly which is helping a ton - I've been able to name the monster hiding inside me and that's given it so much less power. It's also helping to un-learn some self-bullying behaviors I developed these past few decades. I'm exercising again, journaling, eating healthier (AND treating myself to more popsicles), taking long baths, dancing tango again, being more intentional about spending time with Chuck & Jasper, and giving myself permission to come home from work, Netflix me some Gilmore Girls, and crochet the night away.
As for Mama Fox Doula, I'm taking the Spring off from births to reduce the stress of on-call life, and moving towards planning how to build a sustainable business (the kind with those pesky things like insurance and retirement savings) rather than doing business at the unsustainable rate that I was working in.
Last weekend, I attended a DONA Postpartum Doula Workshop with the ever sweet & smart Ann Grauer alongside 11 other women. I observed how open their hearts were and ready to jump in to action.
If I could give some advice to them it would be say 'no' when your body tells you to, know that there is more than enough for yourself and everyone else (so take a damn break from time to time), honor your body & vulnerabilities, and allow yourself time to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I'm happy to say that my mental landscape is changing and much happier now that I'm taking more steps towards self-care and, while the road to self-compassion is non-linear, and I'm still pushing uphill right now, I'm better prepared to take it now more than ever before.
What do you do for self-care? Have you experienced burnout? What advice would you give to new doulas? Comment below!
World Doula Week 2018 Day 1
World Doula Week 2018 Day 2
World Doula Week 2018 Day 3
World Doula Week 2018 Day 4
World Doula Week 2018 Day 5
World Doula Week 2018 Day 6
World Doula Week 2018 Day 7