Ok. I’m about to get extremely open and honest with you.
I’ve gone back and forth between being public about this and not, and after the last few minutes I’ve decided it’s time I talk for my own mental health.
My husband made a conscious decision to go to grad school and live as far away from his parents as possible. Me? I chose a school and bought a house within 30 minutes of my parents because of my innate guilt and apparent self-hate. Since my husband’s parents are so far away, he only sees them about once every 3-4 years. (You see who the idiot is here.) My family traveled to meet his family in 2014, so you can guess whose turn and what time it is now.
We invited my in-laws to stay with us this summer; and due to guilt and the amount of time that has passed since we saw them last, we decided that it should be a lengthy trip. Well, the magic number we ended up deciding on is two and a half MONTHS – the entire summer. I knew we had made a mistake when my husband had not even an inkling of excitement leading up to their arrival, and when we laid in bed that first night staring at the ceiling together in silence and regret.
Fortunately they’re great people and I really am lucky to have married into the family that I have. But that does not mean that living with other people doesn’t come with its challenges. I really do enjoy their company; they’re very simple and easy to please, and they don’t complain about anything. Quite honestly, it’s not them – it’s me.
Truth be told, they’re practically strangers to me as I’ve only spent three weeks with them previous to this. Living with ‘strangers’ is difficult because you have different eating demands and schedules, preferences, hobbies, etc. to get to know and accommodate – and there’s also a lot of pressure. Being the ‘traditional woman of the house,’ even more pressure is placed upon me that is practically invisible.
It is my unspoken duty to clean the house, do the dishes, plan meals, do the laundry, vacuum, pack for trips, change the linens, etc. – things that are necessary but not everyone thinks to do. That’s disregarding that I also own a business, run a blog with multiple social media platforms, write for other blogs, and more.
Uh, plus I also have really fucking debilitating depression.
I could barely keep my head above water before they arrived when there were only two of us to worry about, but now I must admit that I’m struggling. (I can’t even imagine what parents go through on a daily basis.) Every single day is a challenge for me, and my morale is not improving.
As an empath, being around so many people all the time is constantly draining me. I have truthfully felt a difference in my exhaustion. Even at times when I don’t necessarily feel like talking to anyone, I can’t be rude to my guests and must engage with them. I feel terrible because it’s not that I don’t like them – my depression makes me feel most comfortable alone and I sometimes have to force myself to speak to people. Times that I just can’t engage, I guiltily work in our bedroom and hope no one notices me gone. I constantly feel as if I’m in a play. Like I’m an actor going through the motions and hiding in my green room until it’s time for my next scene. What’s worse is I have to hide my medicine from them – they don’t know that I use cannabis.
So I’m just not comfortable in my own home.
The pressures of being a wife are challenging enough, but the added depression is really weighing on me. Even on days that I can’t possibly imagine getting out of bed, I still have to force myself. Not only that, but I have to look presentable by putting a bra on, getting dressed, doing my hair, and brushing my teeth before I greet them every morning. For some people with depression, that’s about as easy as solving world peace. But somehow I’ve done it every single day for the past 37 days.
I keep an orderly house, there’s no junk – but there’s usually dust on picture frames, cat hair in a corner or two, and probably a sticky juice droplet somewhere in the kitchen that someone failed to clean up. However, before they arrived, the house got a complete makeover and was thoroughly cleaned top to bottom – I have to make a good impression on my in-laws their first time at our house, right? I even had the couches steam-cleaned. But even as prepared as I was, unfortunately, I’ve pretty much failed at everything I’ve tried to do since.
I totally had a plan to dust, mop, change linens, etc. once a week, vacuum every other day, and keep the place spotless every day. Well, we can dream, right? That plan fell flat on its face after about two weeks. My husband even helps with cooking and other tasks, but I just mentally can’t do it all along with everything else.
The pressure has become so immense that I’m instantly in a bad mood the second my husband asks me about our next meal. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to leave. I feel like I’m not in control of my own life anymore. Everything I do is dictated by making the next meal, keeping things clean, and making sure everyone is happy. I’ve got too much going on. I am overwhelmed.
And when I am overwhelmed, I am depressed, and I do nothing.
What prompted this post, however, was me crying on my closet floor before 10am this morning. My poor husband asked something simple of me, I got overwhelmed, so he did it himself which caused me to feel useless and guilty. I immediately had this overwhelming feeling to close myself in our walk-in closet and cry in complete darkness. So I did.
I can’t explain it, but it is immensely comforting to me to sit in the dark. The last time this happened I was sitting on my husband’s side of the closet and remember clinging to his pants on hangers above my head as I cried. Today I wept clutching the chiffon and satin of my low-hanging dresses. I sat there in complete darkness sobbing with my eyes closed and ruminating on my failures; frustrated from being paralyzed by simple, everyday tasks.
I’ve slacked on my Big Cleaning Plan, I make it downstairs later and later each day, dinner sometimes isn’t served until 11pm, I snap at my husband for asking for breakfast pizza, I struggle to make conversation, I spend too much time isolated in our bedroom, and I’m no longer my cheerful self.
But I swear to you, I am sorry.
I want to be an amazing wife.
I want my in-laws to be proud that he chose me.
I want to keep a house that I’m proud of.
I want the strength to handle my responsibilities.
I want to be happy.
I’ll get there.