Mental health and wellbeing matters: stuck in the middle

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A few words about the sandwich generation, and being stuck in the middle of people who lean on you, and think you know what you’re doing.

Hello and welcome to the spot on the site where we chat about mental health, wellbeing, and the things that may be affecting you, or people around you. This is a weekly series that we’ve been running for several years now, and whilst not everything’s going to be of use to everyone, hopefully there’s something in this collection of pieces that might be a little bit of help for you.

A conversation this time around then about what’s known as the sandwich generation, but just that general feeling of being in the middle of things. In the case of the sandwich generation, it’s the epitome of being stick in the middle. That children look at a fortysomething and lean on them, giving them no shortage of headaches and assuming they know what they’re doing. Then the older generation gradually finds themselves more reliant on the younger generation, and that comes with significant challenges of acceptance too.

This is all the cliched version of course, and there’s a lot of nuance to it. But also, in the midst, there’s someone in the middle in mid-life, holding a lot on their shoulders, and perhaps without a support network of their own fully working.

It’s a tough place to be, and yet seems cyclical. Our parents did it, now we must, appears to be the thinking. Of course not everyone has the same situation: situations with regards children, parents etc may vary. But there’s an assumption that by late-30s, life has taught us enough to deflect or deal with the bulk of things that are thrown at us. It’s all nonsense of course, but here’s where many people find themselves.

I spoke to one person about this, and their answer is a regular two hour slot on a Sunday morning where they go off and just do something different. They know it’s their moment, their space. That whatever the week has held for them, they know they have a release valve. Doesn’t always work, but might for some.

The big one is to somehow find a way to share the load. To occasionally push back – lord, is that easier said than done – and declare that you’re struggling too, and just need a day. To talk to someone. To find some kind of outlet to protect your brain space a little.

No perfect answer, but acknowledging the problem is part one, and being open with the people depending on you to varying degrees can work wonders. Further suggestions, as always, welcomed in the comments.

Thanks for reading, all. You all stay safe and well, and this page will return next week.

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