anxiety, depression, mental health, mental illness, single mom, single mother, working mom, working mother

Taking Care of Yourself…For Single Moms (mothers) with Anxiety and Depression

Self-care means allowing yourself to make choices about what makes you feel good,  even if others don’t agree.Other people are not inside of your head. They only can see you from the outside. People make suggestions about what they think will help you and oftentimes following  their suggestions would just make you feel worse.

It is amazing to me, how insistent some people can be about being so sure what is good for you. They have no ideas what it feels like to be you. They do not know what things cause you anxiety or what things depress you. What might be calming for one person, may be extremely anxiety provoking for you. What is relaxing to someone else, might cause you to spiral into a depression.

Only you really know what your triggers are and how bad it feels when feelings of anxiety or depression overwhelm you. You cannot just follow people’s advice because they are pushy about it. I feel that sometimes people act like you are hurting their feelings by not “even being willing to try” their suggestions. Some people will try to make you feel like you are lazy, or do not even want to try something to help you to feel better.

It is not a matter of us not wanting to feel better. We are not being big babies, like some people think. Sometimes they offer suggestions that will do us more harm than good, Other times they offer suggestions that we have already tried or that we know will not work.

This kind of insistent, pushy “help” does us more harm than good. I hate to feel like I am being perceived as uncooperative or lazy. Drinking herbal tea does not help with severe insomnia anymore than “trying to relax” at bedtime. If we are not sleeping due to extreme anxiety and obsessive thoughts , then we can’t sleep. There is no brand of herbal tea that is going to help.

Some people will tell me to go outside and take a walk for reducing anxiety. I do not find that walking in my neighborhood is de-stressing at all. There are too many triggers I see walking around here.

They do not know how I feel about walking outside or being reminded that I live here. For one thing, I am always afraid I will see my ex drive by and that he will follow me.The cars all begin to look like his van and I go into  post traumatic state.

I am happier inside and in my bed, than I am outside. That is what I know about myself. No one can understand how it feels to be inside of someone else’s trauma. If they have never experienced trauma, severe anxiety or depression, then they really cannot tell you what will help.

If someone offer an idea that you think might be helpful then go ahead and try it. But do not feel guilty saying “thanks but no thanks” to any suggestions that cause you anxiety just thinking about them.

The other thing that happens is that people try to get you to do things that they want you to do, just because they have some reason of their won to want you to do it. Sometimes certain things are too much for us and we need to say “NO”. I have always had a problem saying no, when people are persistent or they try to make me feel guilty. My ex mother in law is the Queen of the guilt trip.

She ends up wanting me to do things that are way too anxiety provoking for me. She tried to manipulate me into doing things that are harmful to me or detrimental to me in some way. She lays extreme guilt trips on me and implies that I will be a “bad daughter in law” or a “bad mother to my kids” if i do do what she wants.

I used to have to drive my daughter to school early in the morning, after getting home late from work. I had only 4 hours of sleep and could barely drive and get home again. I then had to go right back to bed to try to recover a few more hours sleep, in order to get back up and be ready to go back to work and stay up late again and then get up to drive her again.

On my way back into the house from driving my daughter in the morning, my mother in law would stop me at the door. She had things for me to do and things she wanted to talk to me about. I told her I was very tired and had to go back to sleep so that I could get back up in a few hours to work until midnight.

She did not care that I was so sleep deprived already. She insisted on talking to me. She would say it was only going to take a few minutes but she would talk for a half an hour anyway. When I finally said “no” she tried to lay a guilt trip on me about not even being willing to take a few minutes to care about my daughter’s school or whatever she had on her mind to talk to me about. It always was something that could easily have waited until my day off.

If I had continued to stay up and not sleep, I would have surely overslept and lost my job or had an accident with the car, because I was driving sleep deprived. It would have been worse for my kids to have a car accident. Anyway the things my mother in law wanted to talk to me about were just things that she thought I should be doing differently with my kids. The way I was doing things was fine and her ideas were not any more valid than mine were.

We have to know when and how to take care of ourselves. We have to get enough sleep. When we have difficult schedules, then other people will have to understand that we have to sleep at odd times. If they can;t deal with that,then they will just have to be disappointed. If they really cared about us, then they would hear us when we tell them that what they are asking is just too much for us or even hurtful to us.

We have to eat the best we can, We have to rest as much as we need to. Sometimes that means saying “NO” when your sister, mother in law or neighbor asks you to do something. We cannot keep going like we are superheroes. We do not have superpowers that allow us to keep going without a break,

If we need to stay in bed all day on our day off, then that is the way it is. If we give in to these persistent people that do not want to accept no for an answer, we will become more and more exhausted. We will become more anxious and more depressed. It is not fair to us.

People that have never been a single mother, have no idea how hard it is to work and take care of the kids by ourselves. They have no idea about the stress, the depression and the exhaustion. If they cared about us, they would listen. They would understand that we have to take care of ourselves.

No one is taking care of us. Other women have help from husbands (the ones that are lucky enough to have husbands that help) and some of them do not have to juggle work and childcare. They do not comprehend how the life of a single mother can wear you down.

Sooner or later it is likely that we end up with depression, severe anxiety or both. We cannot let these people in  our lives keep pushing and pushing us. We have to say no and just let them feel how they feel. Let them say what they want to say about us. That is their problem.

People that are like that, are never going to be happy with us anyway. Some people will keep demanding more and more until we are broken down from stress. We are the mothers of our children We are also responsible for self care. We have to maintain our mental health and our physical health.

We are the responsible party for our kids and for ourselves. The people that say they are helping by trying to be in charge of us, are not helpful. We have every right to decide when we need to sleep, when we need to rest and when we need to take a day and stay in bed.

Our mental health is in constant danger from overwork, exhaustion, lack of sleep and anxiety. Draw your lines and let them go whine about it somewhere else.

Protect yourself and your mind / body connection and health. No one else is going to do it. No one else knows what we can and cannot handle. We know when something is too much or if we just don’t feel like doing it. We have so many responsibilities all the time. We have so much to juggle.

We are trying to maintain or strength to go on and our state of mental health. If we crash, then who will take care of the kids? Who will take care of us?

Being a single mother is a job of taking care of your kids and taking care of yourself. Make your boundaries and do not feel guilty keeping them. Tell the ones trying to give you more to do (or to undermine you) that part of your job as a single mom is to take care of yourself.

The same is true for working mothers, even if you are married. Some husbands are not helpful and do not pick up the slack for you. I know this because I was married to one. He was not any more helpful to me when we were married than he is now.

Blessings,

Annie

8 thoughts on “Taking Care of Yourself…For Single Moms (mothers) with Anxiety and Depression”

    1. Yes, it happens to me. I am at the point of mental breakdown and now I am beginning to stand fast on my boundaries. If people feel like their agenda is disrupted by that then that is too bad. I am not rude. I just say that it is not something that I am able to do . It is not helpful to me at this time. Thank you for offering but no thank you.
      No matter what you do, some people are going to be disappointed. The important thing is that we are able to maintain our mental health and our physical health. They go hand in hand.
      Blessing to you
      Annie

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ugh I had the mother in law from hell with my ex and her intrusions were always meant to make me feel inadequate. Again, a very good post about the plight of single mothers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have so much respect for single parents. As a school administrator, I’ve seen what single parents have to struggle with just in trying to raise their children, let alone, trying to take care of themselves. This one particular mother I truly admire, has 2 children both with Autism. She works full-time at a McDonalds, and has a decent enough support system in her parents to be doing a great job with her kids. She has no partner. Dealing with anxiety and depression is hard enough, but doing so on your own while trying to raise children must almost feel unbearable at times. Do know that I have the utmost respect for you and others who are trying to keep it together when it feels like everything is falling a part. Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Some days are harder than others. I appreciate your comments. I did home care with 2 autistic brothers once, who lived with their grandmother because the mother had given up. The grandmother was 77 years old and disabled. It was not ideal. to say the least.
      I enjoyed working with the boys, though.
      Annie

      Like

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