Facts + Insights

Black Women and the Burnout Epidemic: My experiences with burnout (Part 2)

November 11, 2021
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In my first blog in this series about Black women and the burnout epidemic, we covered some of the basics of what burnout is, how ACB women are uniquely impacted, and we learned about the Because She Cares initiative. In this post, I’m going to share more about my own experiences.

As a Black Canadian woman of Afro-Caribbean descent, I felt the effects of burnout long before it became this well-understood phenomenon. I feel that every child of Black immigrants has this mentality of “you have to work to get what you want because no one is going to hand it to you.” It is ingrained with every fibre of our being because our parents and grandparents tell us the stories of the hardships that they’ve suffered so that we could have a better life. It’s not something that we are to ever take for granted.

Pushing myself with education from a young age 

This often came up when my parents spoke to me about the importance of education. Many of my family members didn’t have the same academic opportunities that I did growing up in Canada. That’s why it was never a question of ‘if’ I was going to university, it was a matter of where. This is something that was at the forefront of my mind throughout my entire undergraduate career, so you know what I did? I pushed.

I pulled those all-nighters to get my assignments done, I spread myself thin with the extra-curricular activities, volunteering, and job opportunities that I thought would look amazing on my resume. On top of this, I fulfilled my supposed social responsibilities as a Black woman and made sure that those around me, my friends and family, were cared for. Why? “Because I am a girl child,” an explanation that I am almost 100% sure most ACB girls have heard growing up and the justification for why we should oftentimes neglect to care for our physical, emotional, and mental health for the sake of others and to get it all done, when others do not. Grounded in old-fashioned typical gender roles it is a cultural saying and matter. A “back home” principle that has been instilled in ACB women to view themselves as caretakers and homemakers while they were growing up, and it has been passed down to their daughters for generations because that is what they know.  

Running myself ragged and pushing through the repercussions anyway was my idea of what working hard meant. Was I alone in having this mentality? Absolutely not.  

ACB women: you are not alone in burnout

Sound familiar? To my fellow ACB women, you are not alone in feeling this way. Let’s start by acknowledging that burnout is real in our lives and making self-care mandatory. To learn more about burnout, its impacts on Black women, and moving beyond it through self-care and community, check out this article written by Essence.

You can also learn more about how Because She Cares, the previously mentioned initiative which aims to examine the experiences of HIV-positive ACB women working in the HIV sector, is addressing these issues in an episode of pozcast with the Founder of the Collaborative, Lori Chambers. The Collaborative is currently sharing the results of its study and has some exciting performances coming up, so stay in the loop by following BSC on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Want to know more?

Stay tuned for the third part to this blog series available next week on The Positive Effect. We will take a closer look at the history of caring among ACB women, with a particular focus on the response to HIV/AIDS and the most recent response to COVID-19.

This blog post was contributed by Teresa Bennett, a REACH Nexus Research Student. Teresa holds an Honours Bachelor of Science (Health Sciences) degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.

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