Do you ever feel like your life might not quite be your own?

flea anxiety

Last Friday I had a bit of a day. I don’t know quite what it was exactly, but I was overwhelmed and anxious and couldn’t seem to calm my brain down. On Friday evening I spewed out this post, of all the things that had happened, but I didn’t publish it because I didn’t want to seem moany. I felt much better even the next day, but perhaps it’s still useful to share this as a lot of what I share, especially on Instagram, is sunny pictures of the garden or the dog doing something adorable.

I think too that when I wrote about life not being my own, I meant not just the physical act of doing things for pets or the house or for other people, but also the feeling of your brain not behaving quite how you want it to.

Do you ever feel like this?

Here’s what Friday looked like and what I wrote at the time:

6.30am – Woken by noise of dog whining at the cats trying to tunnel into my bedroom via the carpet.

6.35am – Give up pretending I can’t hear the dog and get up. Feed the cats, take the dog for a walk. She’s in season so she can’t come off the lead for a proper run, so it was a lot of pulling as she tried to ‘make friends’ with some ducks in the park. I make a mental note to avoid the park but know I will forget this in a couple of days, imagine the park will be delightful and go again.

8am – Get home, drink coffee, fail at Wordle. Get nagged by the dog for breakfast. Wash yesterday’s dishes. Hang out some washing. Put some more washing on.

9am – Spend some time combing the dog for fleas, then Googling ‘flea anxiety’ and browsing flea shampoos on Amazon before making myself stop and go in the shower.

9.45am – Go and pick up Joey to take him to nursery.

10.30am – Come home and drive Belle to work.

11.30am – Go to Starbucks and write 1,200 words about how to get a no deposit commercial mortgage. Google fleas some more and panic more and more as every article begins, in a weirdly upbeat tone, ‘whatever you find on your dog is just 5% of the problem!’ Read about why the emotional labour of flea management is an feminist issue. Tell myself not to feel guilty about two hours away from home as the dog is fine and not an actual baby.

1.30pm – Get home to find the dog has eaten a box of six chocolate brownies that were posted through the letterbox while I was at Starbucks.

1.32pm – Drive dog to vets. Sit in waiting room waiting for dog to finish being sick.

3pm – Come home, £271.37 lighter.

3.05pm – Make dog insurance claim.

3.20pm – Bring in the washing and hang out some more. Hose down the lawn when the dog is sick again and then get her to eat a small amount of food with 50ml of disgusting charcoal liquid mixed in.

3.40pm – Write 800 words about TV licencing.

5pm – Dog has perked up and keeps staring at me so I take her for a walk. Pick up one poop.

5.40pm – Home again. Finish writing about TV licensing.

6.30pm – Prep wholesome dinner involving sweet potato, feta and peanuts from library recipe book.

7pm – Go and pick Belle up from work.

7.40pm – Home. Eat dinner. Remember I always like sweet potatoes much less than I think I’m going to.








  1. Tiff
    22 September, 2022 / 1:48 pm

    Gosh I can relate! I work full time for a big telco and I dream of just being able to do things in my own bloody time! I also once cried in the office because I thought we had bedbugs in the house – luckily it was a false alarm.
    Get some frontline for the dog to save some hassle there as well!
    Look after yourself!
    (Used to work with Flora and we also worked together on a house builder campaign once as well I think)

    • Jo Middleton
      22 September, 2022 / 3:04 pm

      Well… she has Frontline every month but it’s clearly not cutting the mustard. I’ve heard it’s a bit like antibiotics – the fleas have evolved into beasts!!

  2. Sam
    22 September, 2022 / 7:14 pm

    Every dang day, lately, I feel like life is not of my own direction. I’m just a cig. I want to be the lead again but everyone’s needs must be met.

    • Jo Middleton
      23 September, 2022 / 8:37 am

      Yup, exactly this, like you’re just a stagehand or admin assistant!

  3. Lisbeth
    23 September, 2022 / 10:54 am

    I definitely 100% felt like that when the children were younger, but I think since their mid-teens I feel like me again TBH and I’ve definitely got that fucking marvellous feeling of agency back. There are some things I feel I’d like to have the option of doing – sometimes I’d like to move across the country for an interesting job that I see, or something crazy like that – and I probably can’t do that again… but for the every day, I feel that time is much more my own now. I’m massively grateful for it, because I remember the years when it was not. But maybe what you’ve expressed here is more about being a carer – and then your time is really not your own any more because you are pulled every which way (and pets really do tie you down too, to the house and everything else: I guess that’s the payoff for the company and cuddles!)

  4. john smith
    26 September, 2022 / 3:16 pm

    was useful to read, I often feel the same

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