As a Mother I have an important role in the overall welfare of every family member. After all, it’s my responsibility to keep the household running and be sure the needs of each person are met. I play a key role in the success of my family, pack lunches, do laundry, and make sure that everyone is ready for work, school and all those extra circular activities.
When a member of the family needs something it’s a mom’s job to make sure that need is met. When someone is hurt it’s my role to nurse the injury, put on the band aid, and kiss the boo-boo’s. When the hurt is bigger then I can handle it’s my job to decide when to take a child to a doctor. Often, this is an easy call and not very difficult to determine. A deep cut may need stitches; a high fever may mean infection or illness requiring medical treatment. It’s not hard for me to tell a stick in an eye needs more professional help then I know how to deliver.
When the hurt is due to mental illness or disability the line is far less obvious. In many cases by the time a mother realizes the situation is more then she is qualified to treat and a kiss will not fix it things may have spiraled beyond control. Without the blood, or temperature the signs and symptoms of mental illness are not always so clear. Over time things have a way of sneaking up on even the best of moms.
With any kind of serious illness there usually comes a crisis point–a moment in time where help is needed urgently. Parenting a child with mental illness is no different except that instead of showing the doctor the cut, a mother has to tell a story. Often by the time we realize the degree of the situation the story is a long one–filled with emotion and details that in hindsight indicate help should have been found sooner.
It’s not too uncommon for the mother of a mentally ill or emotionally disturbed child to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We run along doing our best not noticing things are slipping backward, things are getting out of control. Mom’s want to believe everything will be fine, and we can help our child if we just keep trying. Sometimes by the time we get help weeks and months of conditioning has taken place. When the crisis point hits a mother can be overwhelmed with a variety of feelings. Parents might need their own mental health treatment plan.
My first step to sanity is recognizing my own emotional and mental health issues and being willing to accept the fact that parenting a mentally ill child can take a toll on me. In order to help my child I must first be willing to address the impact my child has had on my own stability. As much as my child needs professional help with her mental illness, I too need help with the impact her situation has had on me. I need my own therapist, doctors, and support system willing to help me put things into perspective and keep myself healthy. After all, I can’t help my child if I am a basket case myself.
The next Blog will address denial verses hope when parenting a mentally ill child.
A Mom’s Guide to Sanity Blogs
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