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Confessions of a Burnt Cookie

Hi all. My name is Laura McDowell, and I'm a burnt cookie.

I'm not exactly sure how I got here. I have stress. We all have stress. Maybe I can blame it on my job. Or maybe it's my family. Who knows, the world is a crazy place right now. It doesn't really make a difference anyway, because no matter what the actual cause is, I'm still a cranky, irritable wench.

I'd like to think I'm a good person. I've wanted to take care of people for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my mother sewed me a nurse's uniform, and my father got me a real stethescope. Eventually I became a physician assistant, and I've been working in pediatrics for 23 years.

I loved my career. I loved the kids, and I loved supporting the families raising them. I guided them through the overwhelming infant stage, the sleepless nights, the calls with fever or illness after hours and in the middle of the night. I was able to be there for them through childhood and adolescence, discussing illness, behavior, development, vaccine worries, the full gamut. But what I seemed to do most was reassure. Yes, we will find a way to treat that. Or yes, that is normal. Yes, that's okay. Yes, I'm overwhelmed and frustrated with the whole work/life/parenting balance too. To be honest, it was reassuring to me that most moms seemed to feel exactly the same sense of overload I did.

The concept of burnout started sneaking up on me at multiple times in my career. We all have a lot of growing pains at each stage in our lives, and I just accepted it as the norm. I did the best I could at juggling a full time job, raising a family, keeping food on the table, laundry clean, and dealing with the typical life "stuff" as it was thrown at me, lather/rinse/repeat. Feeling like I was being pulled in a billion directions at once was just the status quo, and I could usually handle it. I had my many coping mechanisms, of course. For some, it was exercise, a hobby, or wine. For me, the main one was definitely sugar.

I have alway reached for sweets for a little boost when I needed it. Bad day? Buy a candy bar at lunch. Really bad day? Screw it, I'm having ice cream for dinner.

During quarantine, I felt fully justified eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's.


But when I found myself running to Baskin Robbins for ice cream at work one day...for breakfast, mind you...I knew something was seriously wrong. Of course everyone else in my life saw it way before I did. I had become a nasty, cynical, short-tempered bitch to my family (well, at least my husband) and coworkers, and I rarely talked to friends at that point because it was too exhausting to socialize. I couldn't sleep. I hated my job. I hated the world. I hated people.

That's when I started googling "what is burnout." Lo and behold, I found my answer. I'm not a nasty bitch. I'm just a Burnt cookie. Apparently its a common phenomenon these days, especially with those of us who are caregivers (hello, fellow moms!) or work in certain high-stress fields like healthcare (check, check!). Sadly many, many more of us are feeling the "burn" these days because the entire world has gone bat-shit crazy.

Now, among other things, I am an obsessive researcher (I'm actually a master-Googler, it's one of my super powers). Once I'd effectively "diagnosed" myself, I needed to find out how to fix it. Unfortunately, I've learned that my current state didn't happen overnight, and it isn't going to resolve overnight either. However, I also discovered that nearly every woman I spoke to seemed to relate to exactly how I was feeling.

That got the gears spinning in my head. It felt good to know that I wasn't the only one crisis mode. It felt even better to talk to others who could really identify with what I was going through. So I had an idea.

What if there was a place to connect with others who were working through the same issues, to support each other, share tips, or just vent and talk smack? I'm sure they are out there, but I decided I want my own sandbox.

So here it is, fellow Cookies. Welcome to my playground. Bring your toys and snacks. I want to hear from you. Let's discuss this whole self-care and healing thing. I want to share things I've found that make me a little happier, but a community can come up with even more solutions. Talk to me! Comment below, start a topic in the forum, and get the conversation started. I want to know what pisses you off, what you are struggling with and what seems to work for you. Your words may just help someone else. Grab some tea/coffee/wine, whatever your pleasure, have a look around here, and let's figure our crap out together!

Oh, and just an FYI...I have a wee bit of potty mouth. I really don't want to offend anyone, and I'm not gratuitous about it, but sometimes other words just don't fit or feel right So, since I am trying to be as real and authentic as possible here, please forgive me if I occasionally sound like a truck driver. I promise you, I'm a really nice one.😊


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