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What is my problem?


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Here is a little background on me - I am 36, I live in Australia but I was born in the US. I have 4 girls ages 13, 10, 8, 3. My husband is Australian.

When I was little my father did bad things to me. My parents were divorced and my mother abused me physically and mentally. When I was 14 the only stable influence in my life - my grandfather, died. My brother was killed when I was 19, and there were some other traumas around that, e.g. my father and my mother both behaving in an unbelievable manner (even making allowances for their grief). I had several years of therapy to try and recover. I have never been into drugs or alcohol.

After a few failed relationships I married my husband and we have been together for over 11 years. He is genuinely supportive and tries to be as helpful as possible.

Now for my problem - I hate it here and I am unhappy. The kids stress me out and sometimes I feel like just walking away. I try to make time for myself and go to the gym but I am tired and unmotivated. The things that inspire me and motivate me have been placed on the back burner.

I feel like I am constantly running around doing all this stuff to manage the lives of my kids and husband (grocery store, helping with homework, etc.) Two of my kids have Autism and I am always taking them to specialised therapy or meeting with their teachers at school.

I don't know if it is winter blues or just a phase but I can't seem to find my focus. I am not suicidal but I am down. I don't want to hurt anyone or myself I just want a break. I feel like I would be letting everyone down but I really just want to leave. It's not so much the house or the kids its just every little thing adds up.

I am so tired of all the people in my life (friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc.) who are rude or mean because they can't see past the nose on the end of their face. They have made it much harder too because people like my "best friend" are going through job losses, etc. and are wrapped up in themselves.

I really need someone to talk to. I feel lonely, isolated, and I have no one to share all my stressors with except my husband and he is too busy picking up all the balls that I am dropping to really stop and listen. I sometimes just yell at the kids and can't stay calm. I lock myself in my room when I can't deal with them or need a break for a minute. Now I want to move out of the house. I know running away isn't the answer. People tell me its all part of life and I should be thankful. But you know what? I am but some of it I can't be thankful for. How am I supposed to be thankful for Autistic children? How am I supposed to be thankful for being constantly stressed? How am I supposed to be thankful for not being able to do the things that I want to do?

I don't know if I am suffering from some sort of depressive episode or if I am checking out mentally the way my parents did (my mother is Borderline Personality and although my father never had a formal diagnosis he was very mentally ill as well). The doctors here won't listen to me. My regular doctor was away and I saw a different one in the same practice and he told me I should wait to see the other doctor when she is back! I am stressed out, tired, and afraid to leave my house because there is stress every time I leave the door. Here is this doctor telling me to come back when it took me a week to work up the courage to go to into the office!

The doctor I saw asked me "so what's your problem?" When I told him everything he shrugged and said "you sound fine to me, it sounds like you are a mum with 4 kids who is trying to cope". But am I? I don't know, I don't think I am coping so well.

Suggestions, ideas, anything would be of help.


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There's no telling what might actually be wrong with you :( but from so far as you've describe it here, you sound like a pretty normal person to me (and I mean that in a good way). Certainly in the midst of stress and some depressive-esque issues, but what could be more normal than that?

The main problem seems to be that you are in a phase of your life and a set of circumstances that requires you to be a support for others around you and to do so in a very reliable way, but no one is really supporting you. So there is a duty vs. passion thing happening. You feel trapped in your role as mom and unable to be the person with interests you know yourself to be. Pretty normal dynamic for a parent to experience, but if you are truly on the verge of up and leaving, then you are experiencing it with much greater force than some other parents.

It seems to me that you could benefit greatly from a vacation or sabatical. For at least a few weeks. By yourself or perhaps with your husband. Definitely not with the kids. Is there *any* way you can arrange for that sort of thing to happen? If you can get a little release from your duties for enough time to really relax back into yourself, you might see things more clearly.

More generally, what do you do as a means of regular stress relief? Are there yoga classes near you or anything like that? Do you paint or garden? You would likely benefit from doing something you enjoy on a regular basis that provides stress relief and/or a creative expression.

Dutiful people often feel selfish in taking such things for themselves. But there are two kinds of selfish - there is the narcissistic immature jerky selfish and then there is the mature self-nurturing selfish. Only the former is a bad thing in an adult. When you make time to nurture yourself, you recharge your ability to nurture others.


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Good morning,

Do you have enough money to schedule a helper for maybe 1/2 day once a week? Well, not a helper--a person to take over and let you just meander through your own life--a way to get out of the house on your own doing just something YOU want to do. You sound like an incredibly strong person and a real survivor---but it sounds as if you need to do more than survive. An afternoon strolling through an art museum, window shopping, day dreaming, getting a massage, and then knowing that at a scheduled time next week you can do it again would be a wonderful break from all the stresses life has handed you. It also sounds as if you have some guilt because you want to be relieved of all this burden. Let go of any feelings of guilt. You are doing more than most of us could do. And no reasonable person would want to have to do what has been handed to you by life. Also, people may tend to overlook your needs and see all your strength. And you may do the same.

I have noticed that many who have whatever health care that is available in UK, and possibly Aus, do not get help unless they are almost beyond help. I don't know the system there, so suggestions for where to get help would not be relevant.

Again, I urge you to find a scheduled time just for yourself each week somehow, some way and DO NOT give that time up unless there is an extreme emergency. Wish I lived closer and we could chat, but not sure of costs on the phone for that. Let your unemployed friend be employed a few hours until she returns to work by giving you a break.


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