Living with a ‘Messy’ Home Life
I live with what I would call a ‘messy’ home life. Lots of people do. I want to take a moment to explain what I mean when I call my home life messy, however, because it may differ from what other people mean.
But first I want to explain why this is important.
Firstly, its important because its something that most people do not talk about – but we will get to that when I explain more about what I mean. Secondly, its important because its going to be the theme of the vlog that I am hoping to launch very soon. I will say a little bit more about that at the end, however.
What do I mean by ‘Messy’?
Its a little bit hard to explain. What I do not mean is physical mess, although anyone who knows me knows that my home is not always as tidy as it could be! And I do not mean complex relationship structures such as separated and re-married parents, blended households or anything like that.
Rather, I am talking about all the extra complications that my home life has. My home life is different from most dads on account of various health and well-being issues that we face. To give you an idea of what I mean, let me drop some of the headline issues here (there are more)
- My eldest daughter has autism
- I have been diagnosed with heart failure
- I have severe anxiety and depression
- my wife has a formally diagnosed personality disorder and also suffers with depression
- Through ill health, our income has dropped massively. We are currently living on a fraction of the income we previously enjoyed. If we are not below the UK poverty line, we are pretty close to it.
I could go on, but that’s enough to give you a taste of what is happening in our lives. But why do I call this messy? Any families out there with two or more children over the age of three or four will deeply understand the analogy I am about to drop on you…
The Two Children Analogy.
Remember when you had your first child? When you went from a zero child family to a one child family? That was a tough learning experience. Your home life work load grew massively (unless you are the kind of man who lets his partner carry the load – shame on you!). You start to realize how hard it is to have a child.
But then you have a second child. And by the time the second child is walking and getting curious about life, you start to realize how much harder life is with two children. You remember back to the ‘easy life’ when you only had one child. How much more
Perhaps once in a while a relative will take one of your children overnight, and for those hours of only having one child you find that suddenly you have such a feeling of freedom – that you have time to yourself, to do what you want in peace. Its not a feeling you easily find with two young children to look after, but on those occasions when you only have one child to care for, you wonder how you ever came to find it hard work with one, because now it feels like a walk in the park.
That’s what it is life living with all these extra complications in our life. Most families maybe have one of those issues (many, of course, have none of them). Living with any one of those issues is hard – really hard. I don’t want to take away from that truth in any way.
But living with two of them takes the hardship to a new level.
Living with all of them is like a quantum leap in terms of difficulty. Take depression, for example.
Depression is a horrible condition that sucks the life out of… well… life. Thankfully with treatment and medication and some significant alterations to your home life (depending on the severity of the condition) you are able to minimize the impact of depression on your life. It is still there, but with hard work and support you can hopefully get to a point of being able to function on a day to day basis again.
As I implied, in order to get to that successful state of depression management, you need to orient your life towards specifically tackling this issue. In practice that could look like changing your career, or perhaps ensuring that you get 12 hours sleep each night, or stopping from drinking alcohol, or taking time out from every day to meditate or go to the gym. Typically, you would need to employ a whole range of these changes in order to manage a serious case of depression. So if your only life complication were to be depression, you can see that it would be possible to cope with such changes.
But when you add to the mix, even just one other issue that I listed – lets add a child with autism to this hypothetical example, then things get much more complicated.
Many of the changes you need to implement in order to cope with the depression are now not possible as they conflict with the multiple additional needs of the child with autism. It is simply not possible, for example, to get 12 hours
Now add to this already complex situation a whole range of issues, each of which with their own set of requirements for a relatively normal life.
In juggling four or five issues like this, you find yourself needing to make the choice of which issue do you purposely allow to collapse around you, in order to give you the time and space to manage the other subconscious. But then you need to drop another issue temporarily, in order so that you can rescue the first one before it breaks.
Its like that old fashioned act of plate spinning – in order to keep the majority spinning properly, you need to disregard one or two plates, right up until the point where they are close to falling, At that point the others are spinning well enough for you to turn your attention on the struggling plates. But as you save them from disaster, the other plates all start to struggle being left unattended. Its a never ending process to keep things running.
You are constantly making subconscious decisions about which area of your life you are going to let come to the brink of falling apart so that you have enough attention to function for a while and maintain the other areas. But then you need to let go of something else in order to catch that initially dropped issue before it becomes so much more.
This may all sound melodramatic, and of course my life does not always feel as though its balanced on a knife edge. There are periods where everything feels much more relaxed. But even in those periods there is an underlying truth that the balancing act continues.
Enter the Vlog.
We have planned a podcast show and a video show. But in addition to all of that I am really keen to produce a vlog – a behind the scenes look into building this project and being a dad at the same time.
The vlog will fit around all the other content that I produce for Dads Eye View.
It will be on YouTube, but you can also find it here, and no doubt also embedded onto this site and on social media. I hope that you will show your support for it by following and liking the posts when they are published.