Today is World Mental Health Day. There are many articles online, or on your television, which are intended to raise our awareness of mental illness.
I raised three kids while suffering from depression and anxiety. I accomplished it! They were great students, and are well adjusted. Our oldest struggles with depression and we are helping as much as he allows. He is also an extremely smart introvert who has struggled to relate with his peers his entire life. I found it hard as a person with a mental illness help another through mental illness—and that has created enormous Mom Guilt. On the upside, he knows he can turn to me because he knows exactly how difficult it is to maneuver through life with a stigmatized, misunderstood illness.
You know what isn’t fair, even if a person has health insurance which adequately covers mental health issues, how do they get time off work for therapy. The decision to tell your employer that you need such and such time off for therapy, can be daunting due to the stigma. When I was working, I didn’t receive help for just that reason.
A little motherhood background for some of you:
Our oldest son is 25. He finally graduated from college a year ago, and has lived with us since. It took us 7 months of encouragement for him to find a job. He has a good job in his field of study, and I think he can afford to live on his own. Of course, he has to give up some of his hoity toity food/beverage preferences.
Our second is our daughter. She left home (not as a run away) at 17. She graduated early from high school and returned to our home state to start her college studies. She graduated in record time – magna cum laude – and at the age of 23, is now in Montana earning a second degree through an accelerated registered nursing program. She has only returned home for vacations.
Our youngest is 20. Academia has never interested him much. He made it through high school, but is kind of floundering with college. He sees it as a waste of time since he doesn’t know what field of study interests him. He has a part-time job, and may have to go to full-time until he figures out what he wants to be when he grows up. We helped the other two through college, we will help him when he decides. We just don’t want to throw out our money if he isn’t going to his classes—which apparently, he isn’t. He lived on his own for his first year of college, but has returned home.
If I could, I would keep all my children at home—as their little human selves. You know, small, cute, and inquisitive. Frozen in time, no growth into manipulative, rebellious teens.
If you’re lucky, like we are, they will return home. Unfortunately, they will have transformed into large versions of their cute little selves, with bad habits.
Maybe I’m not mean enough. My husband and I have this good cop/bad cop thing going on. Yes, I’m the good cop. You know what? Good cops get taken advantage of.
Obviously, the days of spelling things we don’t want our kids to understand what we’re saying, has long past. It doesn’t matter—apparently, they aren’t listening anyway.
They don’t understand blatant passive-aggressive hints, such as, What is the exact day you are moving out? Can I help you find an apartment? I’ve looked online and found some apartments you can check out–they even allow pets. We have the truck and trailer ready as soon as you find your new home.
No, as teens they were excellent students learning how to tune us out. Guilt isn’t even working, and I’m a master at that skill. Tears aren’t appropriate, but even leaking one out while giving them the speech that mooching off of us won’t help them move on with their lives, isn’t working.
I hear that the boomerang effect is very common these days. It’s nice to know that I’m part of the norm.
Our daughter gets it….what is it with the boys?
Anyway, there are many forms of mental illness. Postpartum depression was the worst form for me. After we decided we weren’t going to have anymore kids, I went on anti-depressants. It wasn’t ideal, and my mood was mostly flat, but along with my husband, we raised three well adjusted kids. Well – two, and I can only do so much for our oldest, which is the source of some of my current anxiety/depression. I can’t kiss his boo-boos away. However, as my therapist points out, he is succeeding in life in spite of my perceived weakness of parenting skills.
So…to any mother reading this, feeling as if they are ruining their kids, they need your love most. Get help, and love them to pieces.