Being a Mother and Mentally Ill

I am a mom. I am mentally ill. When I was thinking up the title I wasn’t sure which one to put first. I’m still not sure. We want to believe that being mentally I’ll doesn’t define us. But sometimes it does.

It sucks but there are days when being a little crazy wins over being a mom. Those are the days when I come home and turn on the tv or I phone it in on dinner and get happy meals.

Other days I am supermom. Like this day! I work, I pick them up, go to activity #1, home for dinner, then activity #2. If only I could be supermom every day.

I am honest with my children. Two boys. One is six, the other is four. My six year old understand, sometimes he sees it before I do. He hugs me when I need it before I can say I need it. My four year old is largely oblivious. He has moments when he says the perfect thing. He had one tonight. He told me “You’re not a crappy mom. You’re a good mom.”

It is my belief that being honest with them is the best way to go. Then when mommy loses her cool they can know that it isn’t just them doing something wrong. So I tell them that “mommy suffers from mental illness. Sometimes it makes me really sad, sometimes I cry, things get overwhelming, I can’t always focus.” You know the list.

My mother never talked about her mental illness. She suffered for years never finding what she needed. She was so wrapped up in herself that she forgot my brother and I.

When I was 13, I planned my suicide. My parents went out for their anniversary dinner. I locked myself in the bathroom with what I needed and then my brother knocked. He asked what I was doing and I told him. He called our parents. When they got home they didn’t offer me the help I needed, there were no comforting words. They told me I ruined their night out.

I didn’t really want to die. I wanted someone to save me or hold me and tell me it would be better. My mother failed me. I didn’t get the help I needed till I was 20-21. I don’t want to do that to my children.

My littlest has ADHD. He is hyper active, has impulse control issues, and becomes physically agressive. Lately he has been heard saying things like he hates himself or he is no good. So even though I’m not a big believer in positive affirmations… Every night we repeat the same thing. “I am a good boy. Sometimes I make bad choices, but I can be better. I love myself and others(then he makes a list of who he loves.”

I am a mom with mental illness. Even though my mental illness has shaped me it does not define me completley. I am a mom, I will remember that, and I will make sure my children have me when they need me.

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11 Replies to “Being a Mother and Mentally Ill”

  1. This was touching to read, Amanda, and came at a good time for me. I’m having a down day and feel, on top of it, that everyone else needs me to affirm their value as well. I will at least show love, and will move on to Supermom after I climb back out.

  2. Thanks for sharing, your posts are honestly so great and help spread awareness. What in your opinion is one of the biggest misconceptions about mental health?

  3. How awful for your parents to say that to you, at such a difficult time.

    It’s good you are talking to your children. As someone who has grown up with a parent who has mental health difficulties, my mum probably did not discuss it on a level as you do, but thankfully I knew enough to know what was going on and lots of reassurance that mum loved me, although her showing it was very hard.
    It was only in my 30’s that mum shows it in ways she could not do before, which is hugging.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I think it would be helpful to redefine what a “good mom” or “good parent” is. Getting food out vs cooking doesn’t really equate to being a “bad” parent, in my opinion.

  5. Way to go, Momma! I love that you’re raising your children to break down the barriers of mental illness stigma by being honest with them and giving them a safe space to have those conversations without fear of judgement. <3

  6. All of this is powerful, but your arents saying you ruined their night, made me tear up instantly. I hope you are getting the love you so deserve now?!

  7. That affirmation that you repeat with your little boy is so beautiful. I’m sure it makes a huge difference to be able to talk openly about mental health with them and to ingrain the message that having mental health issues and making mistakes doesn’t make you a bad person. That’s some incredible Supermum work right there!

  8. This post was amazing and means a lot to me. I myself have twins that just turned one and a toddler who just turned three. With my husband being away a lot with the military and little to no ‘real’ interaction with an adult daily has days where it takes a toll on my sanity so I completely understand from that point and from the otherwise of the spectrum with parents who are so oblivious to mental illness, they haven’t even bothered to look within themselves for it. I do know that I want to break this cycle though for my children. I appreciate your honesty and the way you approach your babies at difficult times❤️

  9. I plan to be honest with my son too. My entire immediate family suffers from some manner of mental illness, and I know there is a chance he might as well. I never want him to feel the isolation I felt when I was young. You’re doing it right, mama!

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