I’m outwardly very successful, but I can’t cope with my life | Dear Mariella

Stop and work out what you want from your short time on the planet, says Mariella Frostrup. It’s time to put your incredible energy into your own wellbeing

The dilemma I have a lovely husband, two gorgeous girls, a lovely home and a high-flying job. However, I cry every night because I hate myself. My inability to cope with pressure – financial, intellectual and emotional – horrifies me. I see others dealing with genuine problems and don’t understand why, with my myriad advantages, I cannot manage mine. My husband thinks I was over-praised as a child and am always chasing an unattainable A grade. My work is high-stress, involving huge budgets. Separately, five years ago I lost a baby in utero – a hugely painful experience. I fear stopping work would damage my daughters and place a large burden on my husband. But seeing our girls for less than an hour a day is miserable. I think I may be depressed, but admitting it may mean my children are taken away and I’ll lose my job and ruin my family.

Mariella replies You’ve got a lively imagination. I can assure you that depression, if that’s part of the issue, would not mean your children being taken away. It’s a diagnosis in expectation of a cure, not a condition from which, once identified, all will unravel. As parents, if we were to be deemed inadequate the moment life started getting us down, there would be few if any children not being swept into care. You might be surprised to hear how many people there are, in every walk of life, struggling with issues of self-esteem and depression. A happy life is not necessarily made up of the ingredients we’re told are imperative, and that disappointment lies at the heart of many a current malaise.

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