Q I have very low energy levels and feel exhausted almost all of the time. My doctor says there’s no physical cause that she can find, and that I should see if there’s a psychological reason. I’ve felt like this for as long as I can remember. As a kid I had to look after my younger brother and sister since I was about 9 years old because my mum was often depressed and she was a drinker too. I was more like her parent! Everything was so serious and tiring, there was no time for playing with friends. All this put me off having kids of my own – I just couldn’t cope. I feel old before my time, and wish someone would just take care of me for a change. Do you think my childhood could be linked to my low energy levels nowadays?
A Yes, it certainly could be. What you describe from your childhood is called ‘parentification’ when a child has to take on the role and responsibilities of being like the parent. This deprives the child of their own childhood, and some natural developmental stages can be weakened or even missed.
The consequences may be that as an adult that person then continues to take on the role of looking after everyone else – at the expense of their own well being. They can seem ‘old for their years’ as they wipe themselves out in the service of others. [Read more…]