50 Women Reveal Exhausting Mental Loads They Carry Without Their Family Realizing

The mental load is the invisible ‘thinking’ labor that keeps a home and family running smoothly. This means remembering to do certain chores, scheduling appointments, checking in with loved ones, and so much more. Constantly keeping track of what needs to be done can become exhausting, especially when all the juggling of stress and chaos in one’s mind goes unnoticed by others. 

Women in this online thread got candid about this issue, sharing their own draining mental burdens they carry without anyone knowing. From perceiving home as their second workplace to struggling to keep up with life, it reminds us that everyone needs a sprinkle of support, even if they don’t show it. 

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Bored Panda also reached out to psychologist, attachment specialist, and relationship coach, Dr. Lorna Otway, who kindly agreed to tell us more about women’s mental load. Keep reading on to find her valuable insights down below.


My dad has cancer. He doesnt want ANYONE to know… not even me. I get updates through my mom privately. I cant tell people because NATURALLY they will want to reach out to my parents with sympathies. I have to act like i dont know anything. I cant yalk to anyone about it.

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The double workday.
They say ‘A man’s home is his castle’.
I feel a woman’s home is her second workplace.

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They only speak to me when they need something. I’m still young and at home, 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 cos they need something, whether it’s an application, money, to make a call for them, to buy something, 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”

And I said yes and the tears just started. I work in law I worked hard and they don’t respect the graft it took whilst carrying them all.

Edit: I could move out but all my money is tied up in family business which I’ve taken over too without a choice.

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Dr. Otway tells us that she’s very passionate about raising awareness about how mental load affects women. “Society often expects women to be the organizers, the caretakers, and the ones who keep everything running smoothly.

This is often the case even if the woman/both partners work full time. I’ve also heard the mental load being referred to as a woman’s “second shift” after arriving home from her day job, which reflects just how taxing the mental load can be for women,” she says.


Major anxiety/depression and undiagnosed ADHD. Every day it just feels like I’m moving through the motions and being disconnected from everyone around me. I’m in slow motion while everyone else around me keeps moving… feels like I can’t and never will get anything done. I’m just stuck in quicksand. Some days I just want to give up. My parents will never know the inner turmoil and the battle I fight with my brain every single day.

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My kids don’t know how close we are to not being able to pay the rent each month. I work and work and work, and I barely even see them anymore but still we’re always behind.

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For whatever reason, my lot in life is to be the people that emotionally depend on, but idealize 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 some sort of way that makes them either want to f**k 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.

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She further explains that the weight of such a burden can be exhausting and overwhelming for any individual and can lead to anxiety, a low mood, or difficulties sleeping or relaxing.

It can also summon resentment in relationships, as women may feel frustrated that their needs aren’t being met while looking after everyone else. “Over time, carrying the bulk of the mental load without help or support can lead to burnout, clinical anxiety, depression, or other serious difficulties,” adds Dr. Otway. 


They don’t know I had a miscarriage.

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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 f**king audacity to make assumptions.

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How sensitive I am right now due to post partum hormones.
I dont 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 like a mf. So does thinking about childhood trauma. I’m trying to keep my mind busy to prevent that one but I’ve gone through a lot of s**t that just really disappoints me to think about. Somehow most of the food yesterday 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.

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Some signs that your partner is struggling with a mental burden may include being more impatient, snappy, irritable, overwhelmed, tired, anxious, frazzled, or avoidant of friends, family, or their loved hobbies.

Dr. Otway also mentions, “Of course, these symptoms can also be linked to other conditions, including anxiety or depression, so it is important for a woman to seek professional medical advice if she is regularly experiencing these types of difficulties.”


That even though I’m proud to have walked away from Christianity, I’m aware I disappointed my mom and aunt especially, and that 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 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 something differently.

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My partner and i separated 7 months ago. We still live together because living in Western Canada is an expensive s**t show. He refuses to tell anyone and carries on as normal, while I feel like I’m living a lie and slowly going crazy.

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I’m going through the process of being diagnosed as neurodivergent but haven’t told anyone yet 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.

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According to Dr. Otway, partners or family members can help women secretly struggling with exhausting mental loads by validating their feelings and saying something along the lines of “I’ve been learning about the “mental load” and how women often carry the bulk of household and caring responsibilities. This sounds stressful and unfair, and I wondered if you can relate to this?” Afterward, they might further inquire about the unnoticed responsibilities they’ve been taking on.


My parents had me a bit older, and they always encouraged me to study/chase my dreams and move abroad to have better opportunities (coming from a South American country). I came to Europe to study, met my current partner (who is from the country I live in), decided to stay and found a job. They were of course happy, but also a bit sad from the distance (despite we often videocalling and trying to see each other in person 2-3 times a year). However, every time I see them in person I can clearly see that they are ageing and that truly scares me. I don’t know how long we’ll still have together, how their health will be when they’re older, and I’m scared of regretting the fact that I might not be able to be with them as much during their old age. I’m a single child, we’ve always been a close family, and it really saddens me to see how they miss me.

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Trauma can cause brain damage. I suffer from ptsd and haven’t worked in a decade because of this. I experience chronic anhedonia. I remember what it’s like to feel joy, but it’s not an emotion I can create at will. I have a few hobbies that are mildly enjoyable, but I’m constantly pressured by the few people in my life to be “doing more”. When I want something, I’ll go after it. But I cannot find pleasure where it simply isn’t there. The reward centre of my brain is broken. Telling me to “think lighter thoughts!” is like telling a person in a wheelchair to “simply stand up and walk!”.

It is exhausting to live in a traumatized body. No body understands the mental gymnastics to keep myself alive every day.

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Not really sure if this counts, but im going through a break up, it was something relatively new so they didnt even really know much about it and him, but nonetheless im still pretty upset over the loss of him and anytime ive been alone i cry.

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However, she urges significant others to keep in mind that “sometimes well-meaning partners may try to lighten their partner’s mental load, but in a way that still involves the woman overseeing or managing the task. 

For example, a partner may offer to “help” with the laundry but may expect the woman to remind them when to do it, help them choose the correct fabric detergent, load the washing machine, etc.

This is usually well-meaning, but ultimately, it does not lighten the mental load for the woman involved! Ideally, it is more useful if you can completely take care of a task, without needing your partner to manage or oversee it in some way in the longer term.”


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 just 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. Like they are getting really overweight and the older they get the more troubles that will cause and I am really worried about that, but they never listen to anything I tell them about healthy eating or exercise or healthier choices and they just keep getting more overweight…

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That I still mourn the loss of my childhood everyday because I had to grow up way too early and be a parent to my parents.

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Turns out they are not aware of anything and choose to make themselves believe I am not suffering. And it’s easy to do as they are all far away. I’ve been taking care of our mother since I was 16 years old. 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 last few years it’s been even less. He rarely calls, maybe 3-4 times a year. Our mother does not have any friends and all her siblings live far away. They also rarely call. 100% of the emotional and physical work are on me. And yet, my brother talked like because he sends little amount of money to support, he is doing his part. Or I have choice to leave this situation. I have had anxiety disorder, and on-and-off agoraphobia since I was like 18. And everyone pretends like as if them not doing s**t is not a major cause of this, if not the biggest reason.

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Another strategy Dr. Otway recommends giving a whirl is sitting down together and making a list of tasks that need to be done so the household runs smoothly. Then the couple can find a way to fairly distribute them, including the mental burden that goes with them.

She concludes by saying, “Sharing the mental load and rebalancing the distribution of labor is incredibly important for women’s well-being and happy, healthy relationships.”


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.”

And 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.

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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.

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Mothering a severely autistic child.

I am not cut out for it. I’m just not. That’s cool that my mom can handle it. I can’t. I think about doing the unthinkable every single day. I had to go to bed last night immediately because the thoughts were so overwhelming. I don’t think ANYONE realizes how often I think of leaving planet earth. How much I wish I could.

My son is like a toddler. A 9 year old toddler. He gets into everything. Can’t leave food on the counter while serving a meal. Can’t leave dish soap (or any soap) out. Can’t walk away from a room he’s in, or something gets broken. He eats inedible things. Chapstick, lotions, makeup, etc aren’t safe. None can be laying out. Door have to be locked or else he’ll go into the room and eat items. On constant alert to him peeing or pooping in his pull up because he’ll either eat the wet pull up filling or smear the feces everywhere.

Have errands to run? Bring someone with you to sit in the car with him because right in the middle of a place, he’ll start punching himself in the face and screeching.

I will never be happy again.

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Knowing that I’ll have to to take care of them when they’re older (which is.. not in a very long time). Not being able to move out to a different country or to travel long term because of that. I have a sibling but they made it super clear that they’re moving to the other side of the world and not taking care of our parents, so I’ll have to be the one that stays.

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That I’m constantly trying to make sure that my trauma and corresponding behaviors don’t hurt my relationship with my partner or ruin my children’s childhoods. I feel like I’m always finding some new habit/ behavior I have to fix that I learned as a kid ?.


I’m bisexual and can’t come out to them it seems. I’ve tried multiple times and thought they got it, but no. If id felt able.to come out to them, maybe I’d have taken a chance on my (female) friend who asked me out years ago, who I have such a gut feeling I was “supposed to’ be with. Seriously, we’re so alike, sometimes it’s scary.

I’m also severely sexually repressed due to my strict purity upbringing and it’s the reason I’ve never dated, let alone had sex. I’m terrified of the whole thing.

It’s caused me to deal with a lot of negative thinking around sex and relationships that I’m currently seeking therapy to try and unlearn. I instinctively judge other people if they’re openly sexual, and I hate that I do that. It’s a knee jerk reaction in my brain, likely tied up with my OCD/Intrusive thoughts.

It hurts so much because I know they didn’t do this to hurt me, but the older I get, the more defective a loser I feel. I have developed some pretty s**t habits, such as seeking sexual validation from strangers online.

For the record, this isn’t incel-y. I 100% know the issue lies with me and my skewed perceptions. But my family know none of this. How could I tell them that by teaching me “not to act like a w**re” or to “disappoint them” by having sex before marriage, they inadvertently ruined any possibility of simple teenage puppy romances, to full blown functional adult relationships.


My mom just transferred to hospice, and I, being her only child, was the one who had to tell her just today. I have also been the one who has had to update everyone all these months, family and friends, etc. Everyone is asking how my dad is, or my grandmother, but they think because I’m so levelheaded throughout this that I must be okay.

I’m so very, deeply, not okay. My wedding is in a few months and I won’t have my mom.


The seriousness of my multiple sclerosis affecting my cognitive function & memory. The stress that it puts on me and the mental load of carrying it and the depression that also comes with chronic illness.

I’m in the middle of breaking from a friend of 25 years because I feel like she truly doesn’t even try to understand or have empathy. She was family. Yeah, she’s going through a three-month illness (anxiety attacks) and the only time I hear from her is when she needs to vent, NEVER to check on her friend. She says how hard illness is and how I will truly never understand as if I haven’t experienced it for over 10 years in a much more serious manner (brain lesions, causing me to lose function in my body and brain). I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges, but come on. She just doesn’t want to learn about it, she finally voiced that…I’m gonna have to be ok with it & let her go.


I just went through a very lengthy miscarriage and haven’t told anyone. I lost my Nan & my 14 year old dog this year. I’m beside myself with grief but can’t show it because I’ve got to hold it down for my mum, mentally ill husband and two little kids. I’m so exhausted. ?.


The entirety of the family’s children’s Christmas happiness. No one else cares and puts in 1/10 effort because what’s the point.


My mom fractured her spine and she’s out of work until Christmas. Not only am I the only one who can take care of her but we have no money to keep going, I barely make enough to pay off my student loans and spend a couple of hours every day applying to new jobs but no one will give me an interview. I can’t even think about buying Christmas presents.

I literally don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve lost all hope.


I had to have an abortion a month ago and can’t tell anyone about it.


Currently, I’m staying with Mom(76) and my brother(52). Been here a year.

Either one doesn’t know/realize/care what I’ve been through and going through in my marriage. I don’t talk about it because Mom then feels my life is up for conversation with extended family and her friends. So I stay quiet.

Because of the c**p going on in my marriage, my adult children barely speak to me. I cry about this all.the.time. Yesterday, was especially difficult. I miss them and my grandkids.

I am always worried about the what ifs. My parents situation is teetering on the brink and even though I have POA it gives me very little comfort.

My health – physical and mental health – is not good.

All of this combined and I’m exhausted. Never would I have thought my life would be this way. Not ever.

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I think my own family tends to be my biggest worry, but i blame that on spending too much time with them. I love them very much, but i also want to send all of them on a 2 year spa retreat, they are the most stressed out humans i’ve ever met. And i get very uneasy around them.

But you know , they are doing their thing, they went through things i don’t know about. And i’m trying to learn to make more space for me and for what i want to do, i don’t have to be there with them always.

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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.

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That I am struggling to keep up with day to day activities and life, working ridiculous hours, not getting any time to myself or being able to do things that I want because I’m expected to work the equivalent of a full and part time job, and be the sole person who looks after the home, constantly fighting and arguing with my SO, and that I have been trying to leave him for such a long time.

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The two toxic ones that refuse to admit they are the problem or change their ways and everyone else who justifiably don’t want to deal with their toxic behavior. None want anything to do with the others but all still talk to me. I get to hear about the crappy things the toxic ones do, commiserate, and continue to keep all of these relationships compartmentalized because two people refuse to act like semi-decent people.

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Being chronically ill. my family is a “just buck up and get through every day even if you’re dying” kind of family. if i mention anything about pain or being sick they always say someone has it worse.

the only time they didn’t do this is when i had cancer. ?.

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Every single member of my family (including husbands family) is a moving piece that I have a ten year plan for. The parents getting more elderly and needing more check ins and living support. The kids growing up and getting into trade or post secondary. My siblings moving off from leeching our parents to arguing over the will or asking me for a loan. All of this affects investments now, conversations now, planning for my job now so I can navigate us all into a better situation well ahead of time.

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My mom passed away when I was like 13 or 14. My brother’s wasn’t much help nor my aunts//uncle. I am now 23 and everyday all I can think about how different my life would be if I had a good support system. I’m happy my brother took me in but he failed me too and the other brother just calls and say “oh that’s crazy” lol. Even when I was homeless they (my aunts/uncle) barely helped, trying to kick me out after a month of living.

I’m in a better place but I always have issues and such or even just need a ride somewhere and it feels like they don’t understand I’m struggling and I really don’t have the support I would like and that they think they giving me by texting me out of the blue once a year. I also feel like they don’t know how badly my mom’s death affected me, I was a literal child in middle school…

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Being immunocompromised and trying desperately not to get covid.


Husband and I are approaching year 4 of infertilty. We have unexplained infertility. We were married before our siblings and started trying for baby before our siblings were even in relationships. All siblings now have babies. I’m so sick of explaining over and over again that we are doing everything we can and that unexplained infertilty is a real diagnosis.


They don’t know the stress and amount of nights I’ve cried myself to sleep over my health issue and trying to figure out how the heck I’ll be ready to move out for university this winter.


A conversation I had with my mother a few months ago where I accidentally let something slip that I never meant to ever tell her, but was a major life changing event. She had the blandest of responses to that information, then promptly changed the subject. I have been crushed and upset ever since. I can’t talk to her about it, because it would lead to a blow up that she cannot handle due to her illness that I am stuck taking care of. It’s been months, and the resentment I feel chokes me daily.


Being the black sheep. I do plan to go low contact to no contact when I move out.


Chronic illness.


Almost everything about me and my life. No one calls.


My family of origin doesn’t know that I’ve been carrying the load for my husband getting an autism dx and learning to unmask and manage. My son is also going through the ax stage of this process and we are not sharing that information until we have more concrete information and carrying this load is huge.


I lost my job.


Probably lots of things. i was the first in my family to graduate college with a degree and i make more than either one of my parents a month (they’re divorced), which sounds good but i have this constant pressure that i am going to fail at my job somehow. i’m also the first diagnosed person in my family with bipolar and ADHD. but of course i carry genomes that make it hard for me to metabolize psychotropic medications like stimulants or mood stabilizers, both of which i probably need. i also work in a very taxing field and involves seen children sometimes severely injured or dying/dead. i can talk about those cases lightheartedly but often times i think of those families or patients.

sorry rant over friends.


Just about every part of my life is a mess right now, has taken such a toll I want to give up, and when I told them all I got yelling 🙁 That doesn’t help me at all.


I really only have 2 members of family in my life, my SO and my mom. And I do not talk to them about anything real, anything that’s seriously affecting my mental health, any deep secrets or hidden thoughts or memories. Nothing. I carry everything on my own. It’s not because they’re untrustworthy or don’t want to listen. It’s just that I’m embarrassed. So my entire life is my mental load that I carry on my own.
Source: boredpanda.com

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