It’s common to hear about burnout in the medical profession — from caregiver burnout to nurses who feel overwhelmed by their workload, but have you heard about chronic illness burnout? Many people don’t realize that chronic illness burnout is real and can happen to those suffering from a chronic condition. Managing your chronic illness is a full-time job and is one that is demanding and all-time consuming. Eventually, trying to juggle your medical appointments, social life, job, and other life responsibilities becomes too overwhelming.
It’s important to recognize the signs of burnout so that you can make time for yourself and practice self-care when you need it most. If you’re questioning whether you have chronic illness burnout, this article is for you. Here are 6 signs of chronic illness burnout to look out for.
1. Lack of motivation
Do you feel a sudden lack of motivation when it comes to attending medical appointments, physical therapy, or staying on top of your prescriptions? When you feel unmotivated and a lack interest in your care plan, it could be time to check in with yourself about how you’re doing. Feeling too drained to keep up with your daily tasks is a major sign that you’re experiencing burnout.
Fatigue is more than just feeling tired after a long, busy day. It’s a consistent exhaustion that you can’t seem to shake and continue to feel even after getting a good night’s sleep. You may notice yourself making more mistakes than usual or missing appointments. If you are constantly feeling drained, exhausted, and overwhelmed, keeping up with your daily responsibilities can start to feel unmanageable.
3. Turning down social invitations
Another sign that you could be burned out is if you’re constantly turning down social invitations. Whether you are too overwhelmed to deal with your chronic illness in a social situation or simply don’t have the energy to socialize with others, you could be dealing with burnout. It’s common for people who suffer from a chronic condition to feel that others don’t understand them and their illness, but isolation isn’t the answer. Isolating yourself may seem like the better alternative at the time, but it can leave you feeling even more alone and hopeless.
Dealing with highs and lows while managing a chronic illness is normal, but if you’re experiencing more lows than usual, it could be a sign you’re burned out. Spending hours on the phone to get referrals or appointments along with managing your symptoms and care plan can be demoralizing when you’re burned out. If you feel hopeless, it could be time to speak to a professional or lean on your friends and family for support.
Do you feel cynicism towards doctors and other medical professionals? Those who suffer from a chronic illness often have to advocate for themselves to get care, and can even experience gaslighting by doctors, friends, and strangers. If you’ve ever had to explain your condition to someone who has questioned its validity, you know just how demoralizing it can be. Cynicism is a major sign of chronic illness burnout that you shouldn’t ignore.
When you have chronic illness burnout, your fuse is a lot shorter than normal and it can seem like your patience has taken the backseat. If you get frustrated or react easily, you could be overwhelmed by your responsibilities and in need of a break. Frustration is a normal emotion to feel when living with a chronic illness, but if it feels too common or unmanageable, you’re most likely experiencing burnout.
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s very likely that you have chronic illness burnout. Make it a priority to put yourself first and to practice self-care to give yourself the space to heal and recharge. Reach out to your social circle, family, or a professional for support.