“Burn-out” is an understatement to what some female clients’ experience. After other severe diagnoses have been ruled out, anxiety mixed with depression might be the closest explanation. But the long term presence, the feelings of depletion, and the chronic nature of stress symptoms, is beyond anxiety.
If this sounds familiar, then they might be suffering from Exhausted Woman’s Syndrome (EWS). Check of the following symptoms with your client:
- Over-annoyed – Little things set you off like people who can’t use their debt card fast enough at the check-out isle.
- Over-apologetic – Saying, “I’m sorry” when you are not really sorry just to move past this item and on to the next one as quick as possible.
- Over-attentive – Fixation on potential problems trying to keep them from exploding into bigger ones to the exclusion of taking care of you.
- Over-burdened – Juggling too many balls in the air at one time resulting in a couple of them crashing to the ground.
- Over-committed – Taking on responsibility for things which others should do but aren’t doing to your satisfaction.
- Over-competitive – Driven to achieve in every area of life at one-time with no allowances for failure.
- Over-conscientious – Striving for perfectionism while denying that you are.
- Over-dependable – So reliable that nearly everyone around you takes it for granted that you will get the job done.
- Over-gratifying – Trying so hard to please others that sometimes the entire point of the activity is lost (especially true for vacations and other fun family events).
- Over-protective – Feeling the need to defend your decisions, actions, beliefs, and emotions to the extent that you withdraw or withhold intimacy.
- Over-thinking – Obsessing over a conversation, decision, or event over and over without coming to any new insights.
- Over-whelmed – Stressed to the point of exhaustion and feeling crushed by the weight of everyday.
Many women suffer from EWS which is brought on by the competing demands of work, marriage, kids, extended family, friends, church, and community. Unlike codependency which requires a dependency on a relationship, EWS strives to be independent of dominating relationships. However this effort is met with great resistance from every relationship and as a result each relationship pushes for dominance. This then results in exhaustion from trying to balance the conflicting requests.
There is hope for their exhaustion and it lies in repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships to healthy perimeters.