This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I wanted to open up and talk to you about something that is deeply personal and close to my heart – mental health.
In my family, our mental health has a profound affect on us all in some way. My Dad struggled with hypochondria, my mother suffers with generalised anxiety and depression, my brother struggles with depression and even Wolfie struggles with anxiety and depression. In one way or another, it is important to me in many, many ways.
From about 12 years old, anxiety became a part of my everyday life. For 8 years, following a panic attack, I myself became a hypochondriac. After that, it became OCD and a fear of sharp knives. I was so afraid that I would stab someone that I threw all of my sharp knives away. On my wedding day, I cried because I was sure I’d kill the man I’d just married (he’s still very much alive!) and I thought I’d go on a killing spree with the cake knife. The power of the mind, hey?
For the past 5 years, I’ve struggled regular bouts of suicidal ideation. It always comes from a place of feeling out of control, as though I have more work to do than I have hours in the day and no time to look after myself. I look at myself in the mirror, 8 dress sizes bigger than I used to be, hair disshevelled and dry and acne and dark rings decorating my face, and I sigh. I used to be so slim, so pretty, whatever happened to me?
Trying to get myself back on track is a lot harder than it should be, no, it’s impossible. By the time I’ve walked the dog, washed the dishes, made my husband’s lunch for the next day, cleaned the kitchen, tidied the lounge and bedroom, run the laundry and given the toilet a quick scrub, the very last thing I want to do is to work out! Self care might stretch to brushing my hair and clipping my fingernails, if we’re lucky. Sadly, very few people understand how much I try to achieve, and that can leave me feeling like a worthless failure as a result.
Because of chronic pain that flares up and settles down almost as often as the weather, a lot of managers and employment agencies find me too ‘unstable’ to be employable. After a gruelling two years of trying, I gave up and resigned myself to the fate of a housewife.
For a long time, I’ve loved being a housewife. My husband goes off to work and I maintain the home, it has a cute, traditional vibe about it. Over time though, I found that the pressure mounts up and a woman really is expected to have it all in order, so I’d get stressed when-
- I’d steam mopped the floor, and 10 minutes later it was covered in muddy pawprints and boot prints
- I’d wash up, and by the evening most of the dishes were back on the side, dirty, to be cleaned again.
- I’d walk the dog, and by 2pm he’d recovered and wanted to play as soon as I sat down
- There are birthdays and Christmasses to prepare for, and guess who normally shoulders that responsibility? Moi!
- I order the groceries online, and time spent making sure I remember 5 types on sandwich filler and what week we’re on (we have a rolling 2-week plan), I’ve lost at least two hours of my day
Being a housewife is tiring and it’s thankless, and on top of that you’re supposed to be pretty and picture perfect, too. It’s no wonder women rebelled 60 years ago!
Being a housewife is also incredibly lonely. For some women, their only companionship is a young, babbling child. For me, he’s a 4-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, who cares more about the gulls he can hear outside than he does about whether or not I’m feeling cold. When your partner is full of conversations with colleagues and you’re left grateful for a visit from the postman, it can leave you feeling rather left out. People who don’t know how much you give expect yet more from you. Quite often, loneliness can make you tired,
Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people, it affects stay-at-home parents and disabled and unemployable people, too. If you know someone who is home alone for a lot of the time, please, please give them a knock and talk to them for a few moments. You never know what dark and isolating thoughts they maybe having.
Keep smiling, folks.
Hugs & kinky cuddles,