Women got super candid about the hardships they've dealt with in their lives, and how it's impacted their relationships with their families.
So, here are some draining mental loads women secretly carry around with them:
Note: Some stories include topics of mental illness and sexual abuse. Please proceed with caution.
1."Turns out my family isn't aware of anything, and chooses to make themselves believe I am not suffering (and it's easy to do because they live far away). I've been taking care of our mother since I was 16 years old (it's been 22 years now). My brother has been living in another country for over a decade now, and at most visits twice a year (for the past few years it's been even less). He rarely calls. Our mother does not have any friends, and all of her siblings live far away (they also rarely call). 100% of the emotional and physical work falls on me, and yet my brother talks like he's a big part of her life because he sends small amounts of money for support. He says 'I have a choice to leave this situation.' I've had an anxiety disorder and on-and-off agoraphobia since I was 18, and everyone pretends like their absence isn't a major cause of this (if not the biggest reason)."
"I also cared for my parents while my siblings lived far away and suffer from agoraphobia. The load got so bad that I became completely housebound through COVID, and had no choice but to stop caring mentally and physically for my parents.
It turned out my parents could actually do many of those things for themselves. Now I'm stuck digging myself out of this hole with no one to care for me like I cared for them. That level of care apparently just doesn't exist, likely because it causes people to become so burdened they get anxiety disorders."
2."I had a miscarriage earlier this year. My aunt proceeded to wonder why my husband and I 'weren't pregnant yet,' and how we must 'not be trying' and so on. She did this on Thanksgiving — the fucking audacity to make assumptions."
3."That even though I’m proud to have walked away from Christianity, I’m aware I disappointed my mom (and aunt especially). Even though my mom loves me, I know she’s 'worried for my soul' and relentlessly prays for 'my return to the faith.' I’ve had strict boundaries to never speak to her about that topic until I’m ready or choose to, but I’m not as heartless or cold as she might think. I’m very aware of the factors, and just as sad that they can’t accept me just because I believe in something different."
4."Most of my family doesn't know that I was sexually abused as a child. I am 28 now, and only came forward to my parents about four years ago. The rest know nothing about it."
"I'm so sorry you went through that. I also went through sexual abuse as a child, and I told my parents when I was 12 years old (three years after the abuse). They did absolutely nothing about it and just swept it under the rug.
At 13 I went to counseling, and then as the years went by I was in and out of therapy because I was sexually assaulted by my ex-brother-in-law. And just like with my childhood sexual abuse, nothing was done. I regret not pressing charges, and my family wasn't encouraging me to do so, either."
5."The double workday. They say, 'A man’s home is his castle.' I feel like a woman’s home is her second workplace."
"I feel this very much, and I wish I had done things differently (mainly validate my feelings and not wait to be validated and make changes even if it meant divorce).
Now I am very resentful and feel very lost. Now my teenage kid is distant and doesn't understand why I am not happily cooking and cleaning, and feels my spouse is the victim. At the end of the day no one gives you a reward for doing it all, and they will not be supportive when you try to reset the balance."
6."My family only speaks to me when they need something. I’m still young and at home and I do all the life admin for my family since I’m the most educated and capable. I don’t enjoy speaking to them because any time they speak to me it’s because they need something (whether it’s an application, money, to make a call for them, to buy something, or to even complain). Bro, nobody asks me how I am and if I’m okay. One time I snapped and my dad sarcastically asked, 'Had a tough day at work?' I said yes and the tears just started streaming. I work in law and I work hard, and they don’t respect the graft it took whilst carrying them all."
"Same with my family. No one says an 'I love you' or 'how are you doing?' or 'do you want to go with us to [insert event]?' They only hit me up when they need something or beef a favor."
7."I grew up as the designated peace keeper. Every family conflict meant I was the only one who could talk to both sides and try to make things okay. 'Go tell your father this. He will get mad if I try to tell him.' 'Convince your mother/sister about this. They don’t listen to me.' Now I can’t leave other people's problems alone without feeling like I need to be fixing it or it is going to blow up. I absorb the negative moods of those around me because I had to be so aware of those things growing up. I’m exhausted, and rarely get to feel my own happiness."
"Imagery helps me. I envision myself as a rock in a stream, and let other people's emotions flow around me."
8."I struggle with my gender identity. I don't feel like I can talk about this with my mother, although she's a relatively progressive and very much left-leaning person. She's also a second-wave feminist and really (I mean REALLY) dislikes men."
9."For whatever reason, my lot in life is to be the person who people emotionally depend on. I'm idealized so much that I’m 'not allowed to be a flawed person who goes through hard times.' The people I want to rely on often drop off the map or victim-blame me when I need them most. I am incredibly lonely, since at least half of my friendships are superficial and only benefit the other person. People view me in some sort of way that makes them either want to fuck me, keep me around for social clout, or bully me. The pressure I live under day-to-day is unbearable, and I can’t get anyone to understand it or show me genuine empathy."
"I feel so seen. I’ve never been able to articulate it like this (I usually just call myself a 'side character'). I have never met anyone else that feels this way — you are not alone. I see you, and I hear you."
10."My parents still treat me like a child even though I am 35 years old. We never talk about anything serious — it's always just laughs, silly 'dad jokes,' and superficial conversations where everyone pretends everything is fine (even when there's something wrong). No matter how much I try to talk to them about anything serious or give them any sort of advice, they never listen. They're getting pretty overweight and the older they get the more troubles it will cause them, and I am really worried about that. But they never listen to anything I tell them about healthy eating or exercise or healthier choices."
11."I'm going through the process of being diagnosed as neurodivergent, but haven't told anyone yet. This is mainly because one time I told my mom I thought I was on the spectrum, and she said something like, 'Stop that — get that idea out of your head.' It's been a lonely process."
12."The mental load I'm carrying by not having energy to do literally anything. If I go to school, I cannot physically manage to do anything else for the rest of the day (not even study). I lay in bed and cry because I feel so stupid, helpless, and useless. It's the worst feeling when I don't have the energy to go to school and see my attendance worsen because I have no idea what to do about it. I believe my lack of energy is due to bouts of sickness since I got COVID in the fall of 2021, and my horrible experience with menstruation and birth control."
13."My dad has cancer. He doesn't want ANYONE to know... not even me. I get updates through my mom privately. I can't tell people because naturally they will want to reach out to my parents with sympathies. I have to act like I don't know anything — I can't talk to anyone about it."
14."My partner and I separated seven months ago, but we still live together because living in Western Canada is an expensive shit-show. He refuses to tell anyone and carries on as 'normal,' while I feel like I'm living a lie and slowly going 'crazy.'"
15.And: "How sensitive I am right now due to postpartum hormones. I don't feel depressed, but stuff has a stronger propensity to make me happy and sad. So while having a baby makes me happy AF, little things like my husband not listening as carefully as he usually does and me realizing he didn’t listen hurts a lot. This also happens when thinking about childhood trauma. I’m trying to keep my mind busy to prevent that one, but I’ve gone through a lot of shit that just really disappoints me to think about. Somehow most of the food at Thanksgiving was just bad in one way or another, and I wanted to just lay in bed and sulk. I wanted yummy food and we cooked all dang day, man."
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.