Parenting With Mental Illness
Hey There, I am a proud mother of five children children of various ages. We aren't what you would call the average, traditional, nuclear family but we make this work the best we can.
We have had many ups throughout the years, but have also experienced many lows, which makes my job as a parent quite hard. Despite this, I know that we are strong and we have each other no matter what.
I'm Kristy and I have PTSD which is very hard to talk about. It's not something you exactly want to be open about for a lot of reasons, especially as a mother, but this is me.
There are days when I feel as if I’m running on auto pilot. Where I don't feel like getting out of bed and that I am only capable of doing the bare minimum. There are some days where I completely neglect myself. That being said, the kids are always fed and clean.
While suffering with mental illness, the nights are long. I should be fast asleep but instead, I lay there awake beating myself up emotionally, lamenting over every single horrible event that has ever happened to me. When I do finally fall asleep my dreams are plagued with memories of past life terrors and I even sometimes wake up, gasping for air like it's happening all over again.
Every morning I wake up exhausted because of how draining this all is. It feel as though most days, any energy I have is brought to you by 12 cups of coffee. As a mother, it is important to keep up appearances, especially for your children. I am smiling on the outside and laughing like nothing is wrong for the children's sake, but inside I’m very tense, jumping outside of my skin and clenching my jaw like there is a someone waiting to attack at all times.
You would think at this point in my life that I would be a pro at talking about my struggle with depression and anxiety but oddly enough it isn't as easy at it sounds but I'll give it my best shot here.
Even just admitting that you suffer is quite a challenge these days. It's never easy admitting that your life is being ruled by the beast of anxiety. Doing so leaves you feeling vulnerable, which isn't something that comes easy to me.
As mental health is starting to be discussed freely by celebrities and in the media, there has been a bit of a break through, but at the end of the day it's still so very heavily stigmatized. To me it leaves me feeling like I am being judged. It is a fear of mine that people will start to see me as as ”crazy”, or less than, due to my mental illness, and that is the last thing I want.
This is not exactly a label that you want branded with when you’re a mother.
I guess now that I am older I have come to except the situation for what it is and I take it one day at a time. These are some of my tips I would like to share that have helped me cope through the highs and lows of parenting through my mental health issues.
Set Small, Achievable Goals.
Nothing says overwhelming like biting off more then you can handle. It can be so easy to want to be super mom, but it's also just as easy to become so overwhelmed that you actually achieve less then you wanted. All that does is make you feel worse. If you set smaller goals that are realistic to your situation than you start to feel more accomplished at the end of the day, instead of a failure.
Know When to Say HELP
Unfortunately this has to be one of the hardest things to do sometimes, but it is important to understand that everyone needs help sometimes, and that is completely okay! Whether it's a spouse, friend, or a family member, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in asking, as the kids will be better for it.
Be Kind to Yourself
It's easy to fall into the dark trap of blame and guilt and emotionally beat yourself up for your mental illness. I am certainly guilty of this one. If you ever find yourself in this particular scenario, try refocusing all that energy into praise for yourself. Instead of ruminating and beating yourself up, try focusing on the positives in your everyday life. For example, instead of emotionally beating yourself up over unfolded laundry, try praising yourself for just having clean laundry in the first place.
Take a Break
Whether it's a hot bath or an hour out for coffee, sometimes just getting out into the sunshine can boost your mood and make you feel a lot better. Don’t feel bad for needing a break either, it’s completely normal to need some me time.
Talk to Your Doctor
Even if you have spoken to your Doctor about your depression, it’s always a good idea to keep your Doctor up to date on your moods and feelings. If you find yourself in a rough spot, there could be something else that can be done for you that you haven’t tried yet.
Take it One Day at a time
Stressing about yesterday is a waste, it's done and in the past and you cannot change it. Preemptively worrying about tomorrow is just as bad. Instead of worrying try Practicing mindfulness and live in the now. Just take it as it comes.
Every day may be a challenge and despite my mental illness, I still find so much joy and happiness in my life. These amazing children of mine give me purpose and a reason to want to get up and fight the battle everyday. I’m pretty sure I would be completely lost without them. They are all amazingly well adjusted children. They are all happy and doing well in school and I am so proud of everything they have done. My children are proof that I am doing a good job regardless of how I feel, and that miracles can and do happen so hang in there, things will get better.