We were driving home from my younger son’s psych appointment the other night and, on a whim, I asked him, “So, how ARE you supposed to manage anxiety? What does your psych tell you to do?” And then I nearly burst into tears, because until that moment I hadn’t realised just what a mess I really was. My eyes were burning with unshed tears as I drove on and said that I probably needed to talk to someone and he agreed because he didn’t have any answers.
They say that you’re only ever as happy as your unhappiest child and I know that both my children are not terribly happy right now. They are both struggling with depression and anxiety and I’m trying to drive the whole fucking bus on empty. I distract myself from the constant pain of anxiety and grief by watching TV and playing on my phone, often at the same time, because if I sit still and think for a minute I start to realise just how tired and anxious and sad I am.
In hindsight, if I had the means and opportunity, I wish I could have taken a month off after our move to Geelong and had a proper holiday – gone away for a couple of weeks even and regained my bearings. Instead, I was thrown right into full-time work and while I didn’t drown, I feel like I’m just treading water with my mouth barely above the water’s surface as I gasp for each breath.
Not that work is hard or bad, in fact, work is fine, if tedious. My relationships with people are going well and I’ve learnt all the work tasks. Part of me wonders what next? And part of me knows that there is no way in hell I could face another major change, like a new job, right now.
I love having a steady income and enough money so that there is “play money” every fortnight. I know that I should be saving some, but after so many years of financial stress and constant deprivation, I’m allowing myself a bit of slack. It’s only been five months, after all.
Even though work is not exhausting, having nothing to do for hours at a time some days, is. As is being out of the house for so many hours a day. And constantly worrying about my teenagers and berating myself for not doing all the things that would make me a better mum. That is probably my biggest source of anxiety, as always. I don’t do enough of the right things to make my children happy. I don’t know what the things are, but I know I’m not doing them. And empty worrying never brought anyone happiness or solved anything.
Ideally, I would work part-time, but I can’t afford the pay cut right now, or rather I don’t want the pay cut. In fact, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to make more money and am considering jumping back into copywriting on the side. I don’t want to go back to being poor and I’m afraid that that could lie in my future if I don’t have a backup plan. There is not much left in my super and the older I get, the less employable I will become, so I will need to rely on other ways to make money. But will anyone hire a copywriter in her fifties?
I celebrated my birthday the other day, but ironically the whole weekend was not about me, but about running the kids around here and there. We drove to Melbourne to have dinner with my parents, found out that my dad’s leukemia is not getting any better and that he could be dead by Christmas and had two cakes. The teenagers barely wished me a happy birthday and only when prompted. Still, the dinner was nice, but the thought that this might be the last time I see my dad kept running through my head. I don’t know how to feel about this, as we haven’t had the best relationship over the years, but I guess I do feel something.
How long before I fall apart?, I wonder. I had to have a day off today, to take some time for me, to take a breath, to do nothing. Well, at least for half a day. Then the usual life admin had to be done, stuff I don’t have time for during the workweek. Maybe I’ll do our grocery shopping online this week and have a more relaxed weekend.
I am just so very very tired.
Also published on Medium.