Question: Mental health?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-23-2009
Question: Mental health?
47
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 1:11pm

I know that different women have different strengths and weaknesses, and what works for one woman may not work for another. And this board has devoted lots of energy to what's best for the children. But what about what's best for the mother?


I'm asking this because it's been a major concern in our family lately. Our children will be fine regardless of where they end up, and it's always been my opinion that happy parents = happy children. That said, have there been any studies done on depression and mental illness in SAHMs vs. WOHMs? My DH says that when I was WOH, I was always WAY more stressed out than I am as a SAHM, but that I really seemed to greatly enjoy my work. So that made me wonder... which group is more prone to depression and so forth? The bored SAHM or the over-stressed WOHM? (Yes, I know those are stereotypes!)


And on a side note, would you rather be calm and relaxed (if a bit bored at times) or would you rather be always on-the-go (even if it led to more stress)?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 1:33pm

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I think it has more to do with whether or not the person is SAH/WOH by choice or against their preference. I think that anyone that is living a lifestyle contrary to what they want is going to be more prone to depression than someone who finds satisfaction and joy in their lifestyle.

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I think I would rather always be on-the-go. I would rather go through the stress of toting my kids to the mall play area than be calm but bored at home in front of the TV watching "Elmo's World" for the millionth time. I would rather have a job running around waiting tables than sitting at a desk entering items in a spreadsheet.














iVillage Member
Registered: 02-07-2009
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 1:39pm

Avatar for mom34101
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 1:55pm

I don't think you'd find any real correlation between depression and sah or woh.

I'd rather be calm and relaxed (even if a bit bored) than on-the-go to the point that it leads to stress. I'm a better parent (and a happier person) that way. But I'm not easily bored, and and I've also learned to manage the schedule so that it's not too much for me or the kids.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2009
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 3:06pm

I consider myself an on-the-go mom, with lots of periods of time to relax - evenings, weekends, holidays & vacations. I do not consider myself "stressed out" as a wohm.


I did a 1.5 year stint on prozac after being diagnosed with situational depression. I went on it 1.5 years after my dd was diagnosed with her genetic degenerative brain disorder. I 've not been on it since.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 4:27pm

well written.


wouldn't the ideal be to be the best parent,the best wife,friend and/or employee without one bit of effort?

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 4:30pm

i don't know that calm,relaxed is something only attached to SAH nor do i think stress is something only attached to WOH.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-23-2009
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 4:36pm

I think I have a rare mental condition: I am constitutionally incapable of doing anything "good enough". If I take on a project or a job, I will do it to EXCESS. I just don't know how to do anything else. If my boss orders me to go home at the end of the day, I'll take home work and do it after the kids go to bed. If my husband asks me nicely to wash his work shirts, I'll do all the laundry (including sheets and towels) before he gets home. If my son asks me to make something for a bake sale, I can't just be happy with chocolate chip cookies--I have to make some esoteric French pastry or something. If my daughter asks me to make her a new skirt, I can't just put together a nice, simple skirt--I have to do some complicated seven-gore skirt with all of these embellishments and flat-felled seams rather than serged ones. If we decide to replace the flooring in the hallway, I'm also going to make sure we rip off the wallpaper and replace it with a brand new paint scheme.


I think it drives my DH nuts sometimes! He's learned not to tell me to "just quit worrying about that," because it won't work. I'll set my work aside and join the family, but I'm going to be thinking about the work constantly until I finally get to go back and do it some more. So I do enjoy the more frantic pace of WOH--there's always something to do! But unfortunately, I just have a very hard time STOPPING. When I SAH, I don't go overboard quite so much, but I also don't get that lovely obsession that I get when I'm working on a project at work. I'm trying to decide whether it's better for me to SAH and be calmer and more laid-back, or whether it's better to WOH and be more stressed out but also be having more fun.


My DH has pointed out that I could easily find a nice, quiet, CALM job that wouldn't be so crazy. But if I did that, I wouldn't be interested in it and I wouldn't really enjoy it. If I'm going to WOH, I want it to be interesting work. To me, interesting = stressful. It's not that I'm unhappy being a SAHM--I really do enjoy it! But I don't get quite so excited about things as a SAHM. It's not quite as interesting to me. I guess I'm just trying to decide which is better: to be stressed out or to be bored. I've read Friedan and Steinem, and I understand the feminist emphasis on women working--for a highly intelligent, ambitious, and capable woman, work provides intellectual stimulation that is hard to find when you're a housewife. But on the other hand, work also provides a lot of stress that you don't get as a housewife. I lurk (and occassionaly post) on some of the working mom boards here at iVillage, and I hate to say that when I lurk on those boards, it makes me much happier to be a SAHM! The amount of stress and bull that we women put up with at work is ridiculous! So which is worse: boredom or stress?


(as an aside:)Reading those working mom boards makes me very, very angry. Women should not HAVE to choose between their careers and their families. We should not be expected to work 70+ hours a week or else be accused of "not caring about the job". We should not have to struggle with substandard and/or spotty childcare when we choose to work. We should not be subject to discrimination, either based upon our gender, our fertility status, or our family situation. The reason that so many of us have to choose between WOH and SAH is because so few employers are willing to accommodate those who might be excellent employees but have no desire to marry their company. Some of us actually LIKE our family members and want to spend time with them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 4:46pm
In other words, I would rather be self-fulfilled, interested, engaged and more stressed than to be unfulfilled, bored, tuned-out and calm, regardless of work status.













iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 6:37pm

Your condition isn't rare. You have a type A personality, and possibly a little obsessive-compulsive disorder. But if you are happy and this works for your family, I don't see any reason to change a thing.


I do take issue with your statement that it is hard to find intellectual stimulation when you're a "housewife." Not everyone gets their stimulation solely through their work, even if that also happens to be challenging. Most of the women I know, whether working or not, read a great deal.


I'm guessing you're an extravert and probably need more external stimulation than more introverted people, but everyone requires it from somewhere.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-23-2009
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 7:15pm

I'm actually pretty introverted. I do read a LOT, and I'm always teased because I always have a "new" project. In actuality, they're usually not "new" projects--it's an attempt to re-try something I've done before. Like sewing and quilting... When I have my machine out, I'll be positively obssessed with sewing and I'll start on twenty-seven new projects. Then eventually, I'll get bored with it and decide it's time to plant a garden instead. Unfortunately, after a month or so, I tend to forget to water it because I get obssessed with learning how to draw. When that obssession wears off, I start researching some strange esoteric topic until I have a three-inch binder filled with my reports on it. When that's done, I go back to quilting for a little while. Then I realize that I could do gardening instead and I try to plant a fall garden (that's one of the things I've been doing this week). Who knows how long my interest in that will last? Probably until the homeschool year begins again. I've been trying for six years to get a garden to grow. The only thing that ever survives my green thumb is dill!

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