I agree with PP who have pointed out that mental illness =/= laziness.
I have been in your shoes. I struggled SO much to just put one foot in front of the other – for YEARS starting in college. Life felt like slogging uphill through mud, while it seemed everyone else was breezily walking by on even, firm ground.
In that mindset, YOU are not to blame for the fact that you can’t get as much done as others. It’s a problem with executive function.
It seems from your post that you’ve come a long way, and you SHOULD be proud of that! Your mental health has improved to the point that you can actually DO things and be productive. Speaking from experience I understand just how gratifying that feels.
So, first thing’s first. You 100% need to put your own mental health first in this situation. It’s easy to get lost in a great relationship, especially when a lot of kids are involved. The tendency, for women, is to put ourselves last. Don’t do that.
You are stressing over HIS expectations and criticisms of YOU. Don’t do that. Focus on whether or not HE’S being a good partner to YOU. Is he holding up his end of the relationship? Is he the same guy you fell in love with, or has he been slowly changing into a more critical, negative partner?
Next, you need to take his critical focus off yourself for a while, since that seem to be where a lot of your confusion is coming from. Have a serious talk with your SO about his parenting, what he expects from you, how that translates to real-world situations, etc. You two clearly need to get on the same page.
This should be a conversation that you have prepared for. You should already have decided on some expectations YOU have of children you will be helping to raise (speak of “children” generally, not HIS children – he will be less likely to take offense if you point out bad habits “children” can get into.)
For instance, you may decide that one of your expectations for ANY child you help to raise is that that child will have daily chores that will need to be completed after they are home from school before they can access the internet via phone/computer/ipad.
Another expectation may be that the child(ren) help with cleaning up after dinner before being allowed to leave the kitchen EVERY night.
These are normal expectations to have of teenaged children. It teaches them how to adult – it shows them how much effort goes into the household things they may be taking for granted, it teaches them appreciation.
So, entirely separate from how much work YOU are or are not doing, you need to get on the same page regarding the children. And you need HIM to have YOUR back when the children try to talk back or break rules.
In your shoes, I would also ask for a brief reprieve from his “contructive criticism.” He is being a nag, plain and simple. A supportive partner should try to help you come up with a plan to be more proactive and productive, not tear you down for the things they feel you could be doing better. This may be a “small” part of the relationship right NOW, but definitely do not think for one minute that it will STAY small. Nagging is one of the biggest relationship killers.
You struggle with depression and anxiety. You seem to be in a type of remission right now, which is great. But an unhealthy relationship can bring those issues back to front and center in a moment’s notice.
He needs to recognize and admit that YOUR mental health is more important than you being Suzy Homemaker. He needs to be supportive. He needs to 100% NOT tear you down.
And please don’t be hard on yourself for the time you spend watching tv. It’s an escape from our own minds, and that is much more appealing to people with depression and anxiety than to other people. So other people don’t understand, really, the allure of something that gives us a break from the whirling thoughts in our heads. They don’t have whirling thoughts they feel the need to escape from. “Checking out” is a form of self-medication. It slows down our brains.
But what you CAN do is make a schedule for yourself for the time the children are at school. You can schedule out blocks of time for chores and for tv. When I was a nanny, this was particularly helpful for me. I would run around the house gathering all the laundry, put in a load, then plop on the couch to watch tv. Pause to switch over laundry and put another load in. Then back to the tv.
Another thing that MIGHT help you get more chores done is an Audible account. It’s about $17/mo and you get one audiobook a month. Audible was a LIFESAVER to me when I was a nanny. I would pop in my earbuds, put my phone in my back pocket, and spend HOURS just walking around the house doing all my chores, lost in the world of the book. Audiobooks don’t require you to stare at them, so they give you the escape of TV, but still enable you to do chores.