How do I stop feeling overwhelmed?
April 6, 2016 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Feeling completely overwhelmed with everything makes life hard to manage.

Since January, for some reason, I've been incredibly overwhelmed with everything. I did seek treatment for my depression and she increased the med dose and I feel "better" but I still feel non-stop overwhelmed. It's with work (which I'm about to lose my job--mostly due to personality conflict with the boss), it's paying bills which lately I'm always in the negative and have to tap into savings, taking care of the house (even with my husband hiring once a week help), taking care of our son with homework (I feel like we are always rushing). We just got a new puppy so it's trying to figure out training and managing our current 2 dogs with acclimating to the new dog (and vise versa). I also have zero time to workout and I feel like a total slug. The only time I was able to was 5am but now that we have three dogs, it's managing them and a friend of ours is getting a divorce so he and his son say with us on and off in the spare room--were all of my workout equipment is.

I dread each day that I wake up but it's not a depressed feeling. It's more of a "omg there's so much to do and I don't know where to begin." I also begged my husband that I can't have every Friday, Saturday and Sunday social hour. I get zero time alone or even just family time. He's an extreme extrovert so his argument is I'm making the family suffer by not wanting people over or going out. I encourage him and our son to go out but he wants all of us to go out together (or have someone over).

I'm at my wits end especially with the job scene. Every day I'm waiting for the pink slip (and it's coming) and I am having no luck trying to get another job that I'm worried.

If I go to a therapist, it's just going to be a non-stop whinefest so I need to find other ways to manage this without just bitching about it.
posted by stormpooper to Human Relations (23 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
The therapist does help you find other ways to manage it without just bitching about it. They can help you interrupt the loop where you crunch down all your feelings just to try to function until you feel so overwhelmed that you flame out and catastrophize and dread waking up every day. A therapist can also help you communicate with your husband about your needs; you're having a tough time and the lack of alone/family time is making you feel worse. You guys need to get on the same page about that and an outside expert can help you get a handle on it.

What you're doing right now isn't working for you. I think a therapist can help you carve out the space to help you take control. Something I struggle with is the idea that going to a therapist is "failure", that if I were whatever enough I would just marshal my resources and do the thing. Guess what? Therapy is one of our resources.
posted by hollyholly at 6:49 AM on April 6, 2016 [9 favorites]

Since January, for some reason, I've been incredibly overwhelmed with everything

"For some reason" -- FOR SOME REASON? You are overwhelmed because of the insane amount of incredibly overwhelming things happening in your life right now. You are:

1. Waiting to be fired from your job.
2. Hosting an adult and a child in your spare room
3. Dealing with a brand-new puppy

Here is the thing: you need to tell your husband the extrovert-style extreme weekend socializing is a deal-breaker for you. You will end your marriage over it. To START, you need two completely empty weekends where you personally do not leave the house or have people over. Going forward you need at least two weekends a month where that happens. He can go out and socialize with your child. You are not available. You are not feeling well and you need to stay home. THIS IS TRUE. It's a non-negotiable for you. After you get some calm downtime under your belt you will be able to handle dealing with your other stressors one by one.
posted by kate blank at 7:06 AM on April 6, 2016 [66 favorites]

I'm in the same rut but don't have all the different sorts of pressures you describe here. I agree that your husband needs to fucking COOL IT for a spell. Therapy may be an important tool in validating your sense of self worth, so that you can stand up to your husband and start getting things in order.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:13 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

You are about to lose your you have sick or vacation days? Might as well use them while you can! Take one day off every two weeks (or every week - hey you are going to lose your job anyway!) just for you until you get the pink slip.
posted by Toddles at 7:20 AM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm not surprised you feel overwhelmed; this is a lot to deal with! And you sound very much like you're shouldering it all alone, which really isn't fair. I agree that talking to someone impartial about this might help, and a professional could hopefully help you with some tools to handle it all. But I would say job one is to have a proper sit-down talk with your husband about how much stress you're under, and what he needs to do to help you with that. Hiring help around the house is fine as far as it goes, but with three dogs and a kid I'm pretty sure there's plenty he could do on a daily basis to lessen your load. And he needs to know that you are suffering right now with the way things are, so forcing you to socialise for the sake of the family(!) is unkind at best.

And it's awesome of you to be helping out your friend, but I would bring that arrangement to a speedy end. You don't need other people in your space right now, still less when their presence is preventing you from doing something positive for yourself.
posted by daisysteiner at 7:21 AM on April 6, 2016

One way to broach the subject with your husband is to explain how you taking time by yourself to recharge is critical to your ability to go out sometimes. I'm an introvert too, and sometimes I want to go out. But I know that being able to do that when I want is reliant on me having had enough alone/downtime to build up the energy to do it -- my partner knows this too, and helps me pay attention to whether or not I have done enough self care to step into a situation that needs a lot of my energy. If you two are in this together, then you both need to take steps that improve the health of the family -- and part of that means he structures things so that you get the time you need and you work it out so the two of you can have fun out together sometimes. While you're under as much stress as you are now, the balance may shift toward more focus on your needs, but he's got to know that in a long term relationship things are going to shift like that sometimes and he needs to be ready to step up and take care of you when you need it. That doesn't mean that his needs get swept under the carpet, it just means that he needs to pay attention to the needs of the family and not just his own.
posted by cubby at 7:40 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do you have the means to get a hotel room for a weekend day and night and just go alone? Might not be financially feasible, but if it is, do it. You need a break.

Your husband needs to leave you alone. "I'm making the family suffer by not wanting people over or going out." Well, he's making you suffer by making you host people/go out every weekend. You are part of the family. Therefore, he's also making the family suffer, by way of making you suffer. Not cool. Try explaining it to him this way. If he won't budge? Well, he's being (excuse me) a total asshole, and that should give you pause.

Best of luck. If you can't take a weekend to yourself, try taking some time after work to have a coffee. At least once or twice a week (or every day if you can), just stop at a bookstore, or a coffee shop on your way home from work, get yourself a small tea or coffee, and sit and read for 45 minutes. Or people watch. Just be by yourself, even in public, it's some kind of peace. You'll be home late, but they will manage for 45 minutes or an hour without you. I promise. You need to do this for your own sanity and health.
posted by sockermom at 7:43 AM on April 6, 2016 [8 favorites]

May I ask - when your husband invites people over, who does the work of cleaning the house in preparation, making the food, etc.?

It strikes me that if you're the one who does all that, maybe making the deal with your husband that "okay, we can have people over this coming weekend if you do all of the cleaning and cooking and that shit," then even if he agrees to it, he'll learn right quick just how much of a heavy lift this has been for you.

(Also, i gotta confess that the thought of him running around the house with a vaccuum cleaner while you placidly sit on the couch reading a magazine is making me giggle.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on April 6, 2016 [12 favorites]

It actually occurs to me that while my coffee shop idea is still a good one, it's the same tactic I used when I was readying myself to leave a really terrible relationship. I'm not saying that your husband is terrible or that you have a bad relationship, but to have to keep your time and your activities secret from your spouse... this is not a good sign. You might have some considering of your marriage to do, and it might be wise to let your husband know that this is verging into dealbreaker territory. Because it might not seem like it is, yet? But it really likely is.
posted by sockermom at 7:53 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

He's an extreme extrovert so his argument is I'm making the family suffer by not wanting people over or going out. I encourage him and our son to go out but he wants all of us to go out together (or have someone over).

Dude no, your husband is an extreme ASS. Does he know you're dipping into savings to cover basic expenses, while he parties down three days a week? I bet he doesn't. Was each and every dog his idea? I bet it was. Does he even ever feed one of them? I bet he doesn't.

I would suggest therapy but from your question history it looks like you guys have been on that path for at least 6? years now. And no luck on that front, apparently.

If you're not ready to divorce this jackass, your best bet is just to literally stop doing all the things. Just stop. Make sure the kid is fed and clothed and schooled, but everything else? Fuck it. Give away the dogs. He wants to have friends over? Tell him to have fun with that; you'll be in your bedroom reading in your underwear. He wants to go out every night? Repeat: have fun with that, I'll be in my bedroom reading in my underwear.

Your husband has been doing everything he wants all the time with no repercussions for your whole marriage, it sounds like. Your turn. If he doesn't like it, he can always leave, and then your life will REALLY start to improve.

I mean I'm the first to say, you know, sometimes life is hard and busy and stupid and you just have to power through. But this isn't "my parent is ill and my child is demanding and my job is demanding, such is life sometimes." A lot of what you're dealing with is optional stuff that probably wasn't even your idea in the first place.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:59 AM on April 6, 2016 [20 favorites]

I'm not really convinced you have a problem. I think you might have a problem with your marriage. That is, the division of responsibility and labor within it.

Of course, that situation may have come into existence because of a problem you do have - not setting the appropriate boundaries you need to feel good and in control.

A therapist can help you work through that. Therapy isn't a "whinefest." A good therapist is aware that just venting is unproductive. They will teach you strategies for working within your marriage/job/friendships to set better boundaries and protect your own energy levels. Which you really, really need. Badly.
posted by Miko at 9:34 AM on April 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

Yeah. Everyone's basically saying the same thing.

Defend your alone time fiercely. Carve it out and make it non-negotiable. Your husband doesn't get to shame you for needing space, so explain to him that those kinds of comments "You're making the family suffer!" aren't helping and are actually making things worse. The family will benefit from having you healthy, happy and more relaxed. In order to get there, you need time to take care of yourself. If he doesn't understand this, then he's a really horrible partner, a terrible husband and a gotdamn awful friend.

Also, I would encourage you to revisit the situation with having your divorcing-friend staying over. Is this really a good time for you to do this? It seems like you've overextended yourself. And I'm sorry, but your friend's divorce crisis doesn't take precedence over your needs. It may be that you simply cannot host your friend and his son anymore. I would recommend giving them the heads up that you have a lot going on and that the current situation isn't sustainable for your health and well-being. You need your exercise equipment back -- and more breathing space in general. Give them a date by which they will need to find another place to stay.
posted by Gray Skies at 9:47 AM on April 6, 2016

I also begged my husband that I can't have every Friday, Saturday and Sunday social hour. I get zero time alone or even just family time. He's an extreme extrovert...

So not knowing your husband, I could see this happening if he's generally a good guy (but clueless about introverts), if he's just an ass, or somewhere in between. Whatever it is, I think getting some of that alone time back could at least be helpful in managing your stress right now.

If he's usually thoughtful, sometimes people think what they find helpful is universal, so your husband being an extrovert may be trying to get you around people because that's what helps him feel better, so in his mind it will help you feel better. Guilting you about it isn't great even if this is actually what's going on, but you seem like a giving person, so he may feel it's the most effective tactic he has to help you help yourself (as he is mistakenly seeing it). If this is the case, sometimes spelling out "Hey, I work differently than you, I need X not Y" will get the lightbulb to go off.

I've also noticed over the years that sometimes people who otherwise mean well don't really register "I don't feel good" or "I'm stressed right now" as meaning something significant unless its accompanied by rending of garments. You have to essentially say "Time out, sit down, and actually listen to the words coming out of my mouth." Then spell out the problem and what you need all over again. Sometimes you just have to do this once, because now they know when you say X you mean it (in this case I think it's usually a small communication mismatch that just hasn't been noticed before). And sometimes they're just people who are always wrapped up in their internal monologue and aren't naturally very good listeners, so they'll always need some kind of signal that they need to actually fully pay attention to you because you are not just spit balling here, you're being serious, and this is not up for discussion.

So if you generally think of your husband as a thoughtful person, I'd try having another conversation. Tell him you need to have his full attention (he can't be watching TV, puttering around on a hobby, etc), tell him what you need right now and work to figure out a way to get there. Even if you can't get everything settled, feeling heard and working towards some relief may be at least give you more of a sense of control.

But, if your husband is generally selfish: he always does what he wants without checking with you, argues whenever you do push back, complains that your compromises aren't good enough and he should get what he wants (which is what he may be doing re: saying you're ruining family fun)...I'd still sit him down and tell him you need to have a talk. And then tell him you're taking a well deserved break, and proceed with WPOFIBH's strategy.
posted by ghost phoneme at 9:50 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just read your question history.

You married an asshole. I'm sorry to say. But the behavior you're describing here (making plans without your input, prioritizing his friends over you, constantly having people over when you need space, disrespecting and disregarding your needs, being rude and thoughtless) -- that's the shit he was doing, by your own admission, ON YOUR WEDDING DAY.

Please disregard everything I said in my post. Carving out space and having a reasonable conversation with this MONUMENTAL IDIOT is not going to happen. The alone time you need is called a divorce.
posted by Gray Skies at 10:03 AM on April 6, 2016 [17 favorites]

I read this and thought "oh no, it's stormpooper again, it had been so long, I was under the impression that things had improved in her marriage!" Came here to say what Gray Skies said. Your problem isn't that you're overwhelmed, your problem is that your husband is at best selfish and at worse abusive.
posted by Melismata at 10:34 AM on April 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

I must unfortunately agree that your BG paints your husband as The Problem here, but here are some hopefully practical assertive things you can do in addition to/ instead of pursuing a divorce now:

- paper plates for all meals. You're overwhelmed. Dishes can slide.
- are you cooking a lot? One night a week can be frozen pizza, or mac and cheese, whatever.
- Stop doing any cooking or cleaning for "social guests" unless they are people you invited and planned for. If your husband is embarrassed at the state of your house, he can clean it.
- Tell Husband he can pick 1/3 weekend days for socializing. 1/3 is your alone time day, he can go out by himself that day. 1/3 is your Family Time day. You can swap off what days are Friday since that's a shorter day. And of course, you are allowed to occasionally beg off of Socializing Day if you just aren't feeling it. Family Time day is for JUST YOU, not all 42 cousins.
- Start putting a little money at a time into a fund for yourself. It sounds like some of the financial issues may be because he wants to go out all the time? You need either a GTFO fund or a "save husband from his own spending" fund.
-absolutely do not do any cooking, cleaning, driving, etc for the random folks staying with you. If they are crashing rent free, they can cook or get takeout for the whole family; that is a small price to pay.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:54 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I read your previous question about your husband just now, and the more I read, the more angry I got on your behalf. It's extremely relevant to what's going on here.

When I read this question today, I may have had other initial reactions, but after reading that one, I say your husband can take the puppy, take his friends, and get out. You'll feel like a completely different person, I am sure, after that.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:18 AM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

You don't need a therapist, you don't need time out, you need a lawyer and new locks on your door. Your husband is a raging selfish asshole and given that he's not likely to change anytime soon, that means you have to change the situation. Get him out or get you out, but either way, get out. (Oh, and the puppy?!?! FFS?)
posted by Jubey at 4:06 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Holy shit, I just read your previous ask, this is the same guy you caught EMAILING ESCORTS, who watched football at home while you went to to ER alone, terrified that your CHILD MIGHT HAVE DIED IN UTERO?! Run, run, RUN. And then do therapy, to find out why this is the best you think you deserve. Big hugs. We are all pulling for you.
posted by Jubey at 5:11 PM on April 6, 2016 [5 favorites]

In one of your previous questions you mentioned that divorce would be expensive because you make more. Please consider that the longer you two are together, the longer you would be expected to make support payments. I'm not qualified to judge but it sounds like a lot of your feelings of being overwhelmed may be rooted in the fact that you've stalled on making a descision about this asshole.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:14 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, this guy is terrible! I think the advice in my first answer is still good, but I think you've really started to believe the story your husband's been telling for years; you're the least important person around and if you feel bad it's because you aren't good enough. Please please know that isn't true, and you need to protect yourself.
posted by hollyholly at 7:23 AM on April 7, 2016

Forgive me; I haven't gone through all your questions but your husband seems to spend tons of money he hasn't really got, and to be obsessed with travel to the point of neglecting everything at home. I wonder if it would help you to see a financial planner and at least get on a budget so you are not getting deeper and deeper into a hole while you decide about all this stuff. Even if you are not going to get a divorce, it might be a useful exercise to get all the financials in one document so that you know where you stand and what it would look like if you did get a divorce right now vs. waiting a few more years while his crazy habits drive you deeper into a hole and you are that much closer to needing college tuition for your kid. (Well, maybe don't bring up this last thing because it may give him the idea you might as well spend all of your money and become eligible for financial aid.) But, you know, next time he wants to go on some crazy trip you can tell him he needs to show you where that is in the budget, instead of just arguing about personalities and emotional crap.
posted by BibiRose at 7:39 AM on April 7, 2016

Yeah, based on what you've written here and some of your past asks, I think you're really veering into DTMFA territory. This guy is not respecting you or your boundaries, and if he's unwilling to even discuss this in a way that isn't putting the blame squarely on you, that's real bad news.

That said, if for whatever reason(s) that getting the heck out of dodge will not be feasible for you right now, I'm firmly in support of you doing whatever it is you need to do to make yourself feel better. Whatever you can do to decrease your stress right now is top priority.

Money stress tends to be the worst, so I'm with BibiRose: checking over your finances and seeing where the sneaky money leaks are so you can plug them up is not only going to decrease the stress of having to dip into savings to pay bills, but also seems like it could be cathartic and give you a better sense of control over that particular situation, which seems like it's exacerbated by the uncertainty of your employment situation. If you get the pink slip, definitely apply for unemployment ASAP.

I know you said you weren't really into it, but I can't stress therapy enough. I know it seems like it's tough to carve out the time, but being able to give voice to your stressors and talk it out with someone with no skin in the game is all sorts of beneficial. Being able to clarify your thoughts and make sense of them and prioritize them sounds like it would be very helpful for you right now.

I'm torn on housekeeping, because on the one hand, it sounds like it's a source of stress for you to feel like you're constantly picking up, even with the additional help, but on the other hand, I know some folks find living in clutter even more unbearable. I would maybe advise making a SUPER short list of household tasks that you know makes you feel better when they're done and only worry about those few things. The rest should be either delegated to other members of the household (Is divorced guy pitching in around here? Is your husband and son?), tasked to your once-weekly housekeeping help, or banished from your mind as unimportant.

I cannot even fathom how stressful it must be to be worrying about potty training a puppy in the middle of all of this, let alone to have two other dogs to contend with. I'm normally not on team "give away your dog", but I would at least write up a pros/cons list for puppy training and the subsequent living-in-a-crowded-house-with-three-dogs part and see how you're feeling about it.

Exercise does definitely do a lot to relieve stress, and it's a real shame that you can't really get into your workout space in the early morning right now like you'd like to. Do you think workout videos in the morning would be feasible for you? There's a ton on YouTube, or there's also Daily Burn and some other services. Or maybe a brisk morning walk or jog?

Also, if you're REALLY sure you don't want to try therapy (You're allowed to whine to them! They are literally paid to listen to you!), keeping a journal might be a good way to nail down your thoughts and get a better sense of control in all of this chaos. To-do lists as well.

Good luck.
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:06 AM on April 7, 2016

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