Feel useless

I am normally a strong person who works hard and always tries to see the positive side of life. However lots of things have gone wrong in my life including being married to a violent man who nearly killed me, losing my dad to cancer and most recently living with an aggressive alcoholic who sadly died last year and left me in a great deal of debt.

I am a single mum to 3 teenagers and have a very demanding job as a teacher. I often work about 70 hours a week then do the housework etc. Recently though i was rushed to hospital with a mild stroke and they also found degenerative arthritis which means at the moment my left side is very weak and I am suffering from severe pain in my head, neck and shoulders. I have been signed off work for two weeks. However lately I have been feeling very low, weepy and just cant be bothered. This hasn't been helped by my teenage daughter who understandably is grieving over the loss of her dad. She tells me everyday that she hates me, wishes i was dead instead of her father and that I am useless.

I was with her dad for 15 years before deciding 2 years ago that I could no longer put up with his aggression, violent outbursts and drinking every night. I tried everything to make it work but nothing I did was any good and it was affecting our children. Now I feel guilty that he died and that he went into a downward spiral. I really believe that if I had died instead of him then maybe my daughter would be happy. I have always tried to please people all my life but they just end up walking all over me.

I love my kids dearly and I know I need to be strong for them. I have also met a really lovely man and we have been dating for 6 months. He is so kind and caring and treats me with respect. I am taking things slowly though because the kids need me so much and my job takes over my life too. I just wished I could afford to work part time or have a job that was 40 hours a week instead of 70 because I am just so exhausted all the time.

I realise that on the surface my life seems okay so why do I feel so useless and sad?


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9 Replies

  • Hi zuko,

    First of all, huge respect to you for everything you've gone through and for working so hard to support your family. Is it normal that a job could demand 70 hours per week, or do you need extra hours for the money?

    From what you are saying, there is hope in this situation. You say you've found a lovely man - that is so great to hear. Of course it's a good idea to take it slow, especially to find out if he's right for you and your family.

    It's common for teenagers to be very angry with the parent who is left to support them.. you hear this often, and I truly believe it is a phase. I know it's a very difficult phase to get through, but I think with time she will come to realise the situation and why you made the decision you made to leave her father. It's annoying, but give it some time. And do NOT blame yourself!!!!!!

    Hope things look up soon enough. It's okay to feel sad... it helps you learn what happiness really means.

    Best wishes to you x

  • Thank you so much for your lovely reply.

    It meant a lot. I have so much to be grateful for and understand that people have far worse problems than me. I have a lovely family but my mum suffers from Bipolar and my sister is very ill with anorexia. I have always been the strong one. I have learned though that it's okay to be sad but I want to make steps to be happy.

    Most teachers work the amount of hours that do for no extra money it's just expected. I think the stress of my job has contributed to how I feel though. I realise that long term I need to cutback somehow and dream of running my own craft business because then the long hours I put in will be for myself and my family.

    I think I just need to be less hard on myself and realise that my daughter is just angry about the loss of her dad. I have arranged some counselling for her so hopefully that will help.

    Once again a big thank you for replying it has really helped x

  • Hi,

    I feel amazed and then quite angry and sad that you are wondering WHY you feel useless and sad! You are coping with such a lot physically, emotionally and in purely practical terms. It is hardly suprising that you are struggling and my heart goes out to you.

    I admire your strength in being able to see the positives in other people despite the negatives and I admire your ability to cope at all. It is good that you are taking things slowly with your new man, it does take time to know whether someone is really good for us. You say you let yourselves be walked over and there will be understandable reasons that have led to your having that attitude towards yourself, probably going back to the way you were treated by your parents or the way you saw one of your parents treating the other - perhaps your father mistrreated your mother. emotionally if not physically?

    However you learned to be a doormat I do think that is causing you a lot of difficulty at present. OK, so your daughter is grieving the loss of her father but that does not mean she has the right to tell you repeatedly that she hates you - once or twice, yes, but not continually. I wonder whether your daughter is angry that you don't stand up for yourself and whether she wouldn't prefer you to be more assertive as a mum. You have done your best to meet her needs and deserve her respect and love. I recall the time when my daughter hated me for leaving her with her father when we divorced and it took a lot of honest sharing of MY feelings with her before she was able to come to terms with the fact that I am in imperfect mum and not the ideal she continued to expect.

    As a former teacher within further education I do know the feeling of working all the hours god sent and actually being walked over in terms of the continual demands upon me and my time (70 hours a week IS unjust!). There is no easy answer, but I do think it's important that you feel you have a right to assert yourself. Teaching will always be demanding and attitudes in society at the moment infer that it is right to expect more from workers than is humanly reasonable, and of course you also have to earn in order to provide for your family. There is no way of solving that situation apart from your thinking seriously about whether there is any less demanding work that you could do even if it paid less. Your health is clearly suffering, as mine did from the stress of teaching and other stress in my life. Perhaps in the end you have to stop being so understanding and forgiving towards everyone else and find a way to have your own needs met. Perhaps you need to allow yourself to be sick and things to collapse a little, even if that does result in other problems. You need time and space for YOU and you certainly could do with the support of someone understanding to talk with, a counsellor or therapist. Your GP will be able to refer you. Do seek the support you need, Suexx

  • Thank you Sue for your good advice. A lot of what you have said makes a lot of sense. I think the reason I am afraid of confrontation stems from my childhood. My mum sufferers from Bipolar and schizophrenia and her moods changed all the time. She used to scream and swear and it made me very scared because obviously I didn't understand why. I would just go to my room and block out all the pain. I have always hated confrontation and will do anything for a quiet life.

    I went to the doctors on Tuesday because I just felt at the end of my tether and just wanted the pain to end. I can't sleep, hold things without dropping them in my left hand or walk far. The pain in my neck is constant. He has signed me off work for another week because physically and mentally I just don't feel ready. He has also prescribed anti-depressants to help me sleep. Although I haven't taken them yet as I have always believed in trying to tackle the problems rather than mask them.

    I am usually such a positive and sociable person but at the moment I just want to hide away from the world and seem afraid of everything. My family can't really understand because they don't know the pressure that I am under. My mum or sister don't work and don't have the responsibilities that I have. The only positive thing is that my daughter has been a lot nicer and trying to help.

    I do think I need to try and stop being Superwoman and slow down. Once I have cleared the debts and feel better emotionally and physically I will make steps to come out of teaching and look for something less stressful. As long as I can earn enough to pay the bills and mortgage then I will be happy. No job is worth getting ill for. The death of my dad and my ex has made me realise that life is too short to be unhappy and stressed.

    A big thank you for your good advice x

  • Hello again Zuko

    I'm so glad you are letting yourself 'be' and no longer trying to be someone you can never be - superwoman! It does sound as though you have a lot of things to deal with in your life, both practically and emotionally. I find even a simple thing like both my close friends being on holiday at the same time can be enough sometimes for me to feel low. We all need the feeling of support around us, the feeling there is someone to turn to when we're feeling low or struggling in life. This website is great for providing that kind of immediate help in the short term, but ongoing relationships are so much better than support from people we don't actually know.

    Do you have any supportive relationships? Do come back on the website again, I find it invaluable when things become too much.


  • Hi Sue

    I agree with what you say about having a good network of friends etc I am lucky in that I do have good support of friends. I feel a bit confused though because u have just had a conversation with my boss and reading between the lines I think she is concerned that I am not able to do my job properly due to the arthritis. I do work with very young children and yes it is physical but I have been told by my physio that with good pain relief and exercises than I should be okay. The doctor at the hospital said that my arthritis will get worse and maybe in 15 years I might have to think of a less physical job. I am not ready to leave teaching yet due to my financial reasons and am now scared that I will somehow be forced out which will just add to my problems. I am realistic and know in my heart that I need to make career change plans long term for my health and sanity but I can't do that until I am in a better financial position. Can I ask you said you left teaching what are you doing now career wise. I hope you don't mind me asking that.

    Best wishes x

  • hi i think you should tell your boss that you are capable of doing your job but not at the moment because you are too ill.i also think you should take the anti depressants to help you through a difficult time, regards redroseart

  • Hi Zuko , I don't know how you do it but you need to think of yourself and at least work less. I know the role of being a helper for everybody but sometimes you just need to think more about yourself . I know how 3 teenagers can be . They probably go through their own grief.

    I hope you feel better after all you are a strong person . Good luck to you !!!

  • Hi

    Sorry, I've only just read your response from 5th October! No, of course I don't mind you asking. I took voluntary redundancy from teaching within Further Education and then trained in the NHS as a psychotherapist, I was lucky someone gave me the opportunity to work unpaid with patients. However after qualifying for national registration I discovered that I wasn't eligible to apply for paid work within the NHS because I don't have a health qualification such as nursing or clinical psychology (it's madness - it was ok for me to work unpaid for 10 years but not to apply for doing the same work but being paid...!!). I became very deeply depressed after that, it all seems so unfair, the long training and battle to get accepted as healthy but even that got me nowhere. I did look for other places to work as a therapist but without luck. Eventually after being very depressed for some years I did an art degree and technically I'm now self-employed as a freelance artist, but after a bad fall 3 years ago I haven't been able to find the motivation to get painting again. I just feel stuck in a kind of limbo state of doing nothing except buying and selling on e-bay, writing on websites such as this one, and watching dvds. I feel like I've opted out of life because I found the repeated struggle and disappointments too much. Now I'm 63 and have no idea what to do with the rest of my life. I sometimes think about voluntary work but feel so angry about the idea of not being paid because I am so very well qualified and experienced. It's a bit of a viscious circle!


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