Single Mothers, Working Mothers Depression and Anxiety Disorders

It is no wonder that single mothers and working mothers become depressed. We are doing the jobs of too many people. We usually do not have enough help. The help that is offered is often more of a burden that it is helpful. People guess at what will be helpful rather than asking us.

It is hard for other women to understand the stress on single mothers. This is also true for working mothers that do not get enough support from their husbands.  

We cannot go out and spend time doing social things that other women do. They ask us to come along with them and they are offended when we keep telling them no. It becomes a burden on the relationship and we end up losing the friendships with our female friends. We become more alienated.

Our families may try to help but they do not know what would be helpful. If their effort to help us, they often create more anxiety for us. The teachers at the school expect us to be able to all the things that other mothers do, but we cannot keep up.

Our boss is demanding when we are at work. Being a single mother is no excuse for not living up to all the obligations of our job. We are exhausted when we get home from work, but there is no rest.

We are still working until  we drop from exhaustion.We fall into bed and have thoughts running through our heads about all the things we did not get done today and have to add onto tomorrow’s schedule, which was already overloaded.

We have little time to do anything for ourselves. We have little or no time to rest. There is no end to the endless responsibility and endless stream of chores, errands, workload, and unexpected problems.

On top of that, people are always complaining to us that we “should” be doing things in a different or “better” way.What they mean of course is that we should be doing things their way. But they have no concept of how our brains are suffering in torment.

Everyone had suggestions and criticism about how we should be doing things differently. My ex mother in law once told me that I should spend all Sunday afternoon making casseroles to freeze so that I would not have to cook during the week. “Then you just pop them out of the freezer and microwave them”, she said. She had decided that this was the answer for me because my “perfect” sister in law did that.

First of all, I tried to explain to her that my  kids and my husband (her son) hated casseroles and would never eat them. Then I tried to explain to her that I was entirely too exhausted by the weekend, from work, to stand in the kitchen and cook for five hours every Sunday. Nevertheless, the bought me the casserole book that my sister in law used and insisted that I try it.

My sister in law did not work and was maintained in a rich fashion be her husband. He ability and desire to make casseroles was completely different than mine. Come to think of it, I had no desire to eat frozen microwaved casseroles every night for dinner either!

Speaking of crying, we don’t even have time or any private space to do that. We don’t want to break down in front of the kids. We have no time for therapists or to go out with friends to vent. We cannot cry at work without  appearing incompetent. So that leaves us to cry in our car for 5 minutes when we get home from work, before we go into the house.

We worry about the kids while we are at work. We worry about work when we are home. We feel guilty about leaving the kids to go to work.If we cut back our hours to spend more time with the kids, then we feel guilty that we are not making enough money to take care of them.

No matter what we are doing or where we are, we feel like we should be doing or worrying about something else. We are happy we have children but at the same time we feel guilty that we have ended up in a position of being so overworked that we do not have enough energy for them.

The guilt leads to a lowering of our self esteem and we become depressed. The constant worrying turns into a severe anxiety condition that interferes with our ability to function as well as we used to.

We feel behind all the time. We have trouble keeping up with the kids doctor appointments and their homework. We feel more and more like we are getting sucked into a pit of quicksand.

Our own minds begin to work against us. Our brains begin to fill with obsessive thoughts that are fearful about the future and regretful about the past. Why did we end up here? How can we keep going like this? Who are we anymore?

We begin to lose touch with our own identity. We are not a whole person anymore. We are fragments of different people who wear different hats at different parts of the day.We keep changing hats from work, to mom, to nurse to the kids, to the person that has to talk to the teacher, to the bad friend who has said “NO” the last 5 times our girlfriend has asked us out for lunch.

We have little time to talk on the phone to a friend and even then we are interrupted. We crave a moment to ourselves, a moment of rest and peace. We feel guilty that we want to do something for ourselves. We want to be beautiful again and desirable to men. We want to be a woman who is allowed to have needs and desires.

But there is no time and if we make the time, we feel guilty the entire time we are out. Men have trouble understanding that we want to check in with out kids while we are on a date. They feel slighted because after all, men want our attention as much as the kids do.

We are more and more and more drug along by life and the schedule that we are not able to keep up with. We cannot continue without something having to give somewhere. We are headed for a breakdown.

We can become very depressed to the point where we have clinical depression. At this point we need help but we are still in the same boat of not having time to do anything for ourselves. We have no space during our week to schedule a therapy session or even a doctor appointment.

We put it off, We become filled with more and more anxiety and depression. We cannot continue.

This happens. It happened to me. We have to find a way to reach out and get help from someone, somewhere.We cannot just keep ignoring the feelings that our mental health is in jeopardy. Our feelings are trying to tell us something.

It does not get better without reaching out for help. Reach out to someone, whether is be a friend, a  paid service for chores and errands, a therapist for counseling, the church, or anyone who will be compassionate. You need to talk to someone who will listen.

Look through your schedule and find something that can wait, even if for a few weeks, so that you can use the time to help yourself. You have become conditioned to feel that all of those things you do for others are life and death. You might be surprised when you take a second look at your routine.   If you change your perspective, to seeing the situation as a personal mental health emergency, you might find something that can be put aside for a time.

Behavior that repeats over and over becomes imbedded in the brain. It feels like there is no other possible way to do things. Find someone else to take your kids to church for you every other week  and take a yoga class or sleep in. Have a niece help help you around the house and pay them by a barter. They may be glad just to get out of their own house for a change and spend time with you.

Think of anyplace that might have free counseling and also might offer assistance to you for a short time, like the church or a community organization. Be creative and barter for services, like laundry and making dinner.

Another parent from the school may be in the same boat as you are.  They may be happy to trade days driving the kids to school, so they can have a few mornings to themselves also. Or maybe to take turns one night per week, making the dinner for all of the kids.  This way each of you has one night off.

Seek out other single working mothers who might feel like they are drowning just like you are. Get ideas and help each other. Think outside the box a little and do not stay locked into your same schedule.

Every tiny difference you make, could make a difference to your mental health. Being locked into the same exact routine for too long is devastating to your mental well being. Humans are built for some variation in routine. It stimulates the creative centers of the brain and will help you to think of more ideas and to be less depressed.

The longer we go without help, the worse it gets. Make the time for yourself. Do not feel guilty. If you crash then what will happen? You are not superhuman, even though  other people may be relentless in their efforts to demand the world from you.

All the adults that are making demands of your time are only looking out for their own agenda. It is your turn to look out for yourself and your family.

Your kids will probably not mind a change in the routine, because they are probably stressed over the same day to day routine as well. Get help and be creative. The more you think outside the box, the better you will be able to make small alterations in order to preserve your sanity.

Take care of yourself.

Blessings,

Annie

Bullying from Your Boss

narcissistic bosses

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Working Mothers / Single Mothers … Depression and Severe Anxiety , Who Is Listening to you ?

One of the problems with being a single mother or a working mother is that there is no time. There is no time to sit in silence. Especially, if there is no one helping you, so that you can get a break sometimes.

Some of us have no husband … Others have a husband but he does not help with the kids. He does not take over for a little while so you can get a break, from the continuous doing, doing and more doing.

The problem with having no silence or quiet time, is that there is no way to evaluate your inner self. There is no space to identify with yourself, your pain, your personal problems or your mental state. Many people will tell you that you are just overwhelmed by being a working mother and that it will all be okay. People will tell you that you are not really depressed, you are just having a bad day.

Everyone pushes you to keep moving, keep going, keep pushing, harder and harder…until what? For how long?

When we mention to someone that we think we need some time to ourselves they laugh and make a joke like “Yeah, you will have a day to yourself when the kids are grown!”

I have seen posts on Mommy blogs that appear to be pleading desperately for help. When I read them, the Moms sound desperate for someone to hear them. Not just to listen…but to hear. The posts I have read sound desperate and depressed. They are full of anxiety as well as physical and mental exhaustion.

The mothers talk about not being able to have friends because they do not have time and are too exhausted by the end of the day to chat. They are so tired of dealing with everything. Tired of solving other people’s problems. Tired of one crisis after another, Crisis at work. Crisis at home. Crisis at the kids’ school. Crisis with the husband.

The crisis that the friend calls about on the phone just sounds ridiculous when the friend is saying “I am so upset, My good shoes got chewed by the dog, I have NOTHING to wear out to dinner with Dan on Friday. Can I borrow your red ones?”

This becomes a break in communication of the friendship. Mary has been taking care of crisis after crisis. Real Ones. Her daughter has the chicken pox. Her husband is working late and no one is available to pick up Timmy at practice, because the husband was supposed to do it.

Now she has a sick kid that she has to drag into the car to get the other child. In the mean time her boss is calling and asking if she can come in an hour early tomorrow. She has not even gotten a babysitter for tomorrow yet for the sick child that has to stay home from school.

The husband now calls again and asks her to pick up dinner, since she has to go out to get Timmy anyway. She tries to tell him that the little girl is sick and she can’t drag her around to pick up dinner in addition to picking up Timmy at practice. This starts an argument because the husband says “I worked all day. The least you can do is pick up dinner.”

She is now wondering how that can be counted as the “least she can do” while the little sick girl is now crying because she has to get out of her sick bed to get into the car…the boss calls again and threatens her job if she does not come in early…the coach from the basketball team now calls and tells her she is late to pick up the boy…

This is the life of a working mother. There is constant turmoil and too much to do. There is often threat of her losing her job because she is trying to take care of the family too. Kids get sick. Husbands work late and cannot stay home with sick kids or go pick up Timmy at basketball.

Or  maybe there is no husband at all… and we don’t let Timmy play basketball because there is no way to coordinate getting him to games and still keep our job. The boss could give a crap about what goes on with your kids. It is not a good excuse to call out when your kids is depressed and you are worried about their mental state. You have to go to work anyway.

You worry about the kids while you are at work. Sometimes the anxiety is so severe that your work performance and  coworker interactions are affected.

If you cut back your work hours to spend more time with the kids, then you worry about the money. You are now not a good mother because the kids are going without things. But if you work too much then your preteen kid might become depressed and anxious. The next thing that happens is the guidance office is calling you from school and telling you that you should spend more time with your children.

Everyone demands. Everyone judges. Your mother in law, your sister, the teacher, the guidance counselor, the pediatrician, other mothers who are not in your situation.

The supervisors at work want more and more. You should come in when your coworker calls out because she stayed out too late partying last night. You should stay late at work and leave your kids to eat alone again, because someone else did not get work done and now you are the one to finish it for them.

If you are still reading then this might be you. The problem is that people will blow off your feelings, when you say that you need a break. You can’t keep up. You feel depressed, and overwhelmed. You are having severe anxiety and no one is listening.

No one seems to be listening …not even to the well written blog posts…

You only get  “yes, I get depressed sometimes too” …or “You will be fine, You are a strong woman”…or “This made me laugh! It sounded like you were actually serious at first but I saw the humor in all of the turmoil of the day you were describing.”

Even if you have never had a mental illness before, this level of chronic stress can cause it.

There has to be a breaking point. You need to find some relief from the anxiety before you become too mentally damaged. It is not for anyone to know but yourself.  Only you know when you cannot take anymore. Only you know when you need help.

It is not for other people to tell you that you will be okay. It is not for other people to tell you that it is really not that bad. They are not inside of your head. They are observing you from the outside and they have no idea what thoughts go around in your head. Only you really know what your brain is telling you and whether or not it can tolerate any more, without getting help.

If you need mental help, then reach out somehow. This life of a working mother, single mother can be overwhelming even to the strongest and bravest of women. You do not have to prove anything to anyone.

I felt moved to write this post after reading a few single mother  and working mother blogs. The people who commented on the posts just did not see the true mental suffering that I saw. People are crying out for help and not being heard.

It is a matter of finding the right place for help. If you keep trying you will find a way to get mental help and find and outlet for some of your suffering. You need to be heard and validated, about how you are feeling.

My thoughts are with the single mothers and the working mothers this evening. Many of you had past trauma, abuse and mental damage even before you ended up here.

Those things are still there and now they are being buried under this work, work, work, do, do, do, lifestyle.  No one can sustain it forever.

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