Does Mental Health Affect Parenting? Yes, it does, let me explain more ….
I don’t remember when my three youngest children began to crawl or walk; I missed out on so many of the most wonderful milestones that I am consumed with guilt.
I look at my children and have felt sorry for them; they didn’t ask to have a mentally ill mother.
The negative intrusive voices will tell me that they deserve better than me, yet they are stuck with me so we make the most of it.
I am not a perfect mum yet I am a good one.
It has taken me almost 4 years to be able to say those few words and actually mean them.
I have thrown more tantrums and cried and scream more than them all of the 6 children put together, yet when they kiss me and say “Goodnight, love you mum” I know I am trying my best.
I love my children and they love me. That aspect of my parenting with mental health has never changed.
When those voices of doubt creep in or I am reminded of how useless I am, I look into their eyes and I know I have done something right, 6 things right.
How does mental health affect parenting?
It leaves a vulnerable and frightened women feeling even more useless and worthless.
I wish I could tell you that my mental health has had no effect upon my children and many times I would argue that I hide my mental illness well and my kids see and hear nothing.
I was a liar and I was deceitful when it came to admitting how much I have screwed up their lives at times, but as any loving mother does, she makes mistakes and hopefully learns from them.
There were times I wanted them as far away as possible from me, not because I didn’t love or want them but because I believed they were better off without me.
On the verge of suicide I would push them all away, if I could make them stop loving and needing me then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty if I took my own life.
I reasoned it would be easier for them to cope without me if I distanced myself from their lives.
Our circumstances are far from perfect but we have had to learn to make the most out of a bad situation.
Don’t get me wrong my children are very stable, happy and thriving and that is mainly down to me. I accepted I needed help, that I struggled and I put in place safety measures for them, I did that.
The mental health team remind me constantly what an amazing job I am doing and that I should be proud of all I have done to ensure my children are given the best start in life and a happy and stable childhood.
I wish I could have given them more, but I give them all I can
It is me who protected them, ensured they were safe and loved and always had someone to talk too, I provided other people instead of me when I couldn’t do it.
On the days, I locked myself away or was so far out of this world that I was not functioning I knew they were being taken care of.
I love my children yet have resented them. When I have felt there was no way forward and I wanted to my end my life, they prevented me from doing that and I would resent them being here, they were forcing me to live when I wanted to die.
I care for my children to the best of my abilities but I need regular help, I no longer feel ashamed asking for help.
If you were to ask my children who their main carer was it would be me, in hindsight it’s their stepfather. We are masters of covering my tracks and hiding the devastation I cause around them.
I don’t wake to take the children to school, if I have taken my medications I am zombified in bed, yet we use excuses; the younger children had me up all night, I have a headache or mums poorly head is playing up again.
My children don’t ask me to take them to school, they accept I can’t. The same goes for many things when it comes down to my anxiety.
On the rare days that I do it breaks my heart to see the shock on their faces when I wake them and then watch how their eyes sparkle with delight. It’s a real treat for mum to be up and about and functioning well first thing on a morning.
I can’t cook for my children, of course, they would not starve I am more than capable of making a sandwich or raiding the biscuit tin but the cooker and hobs are off limits to me. They have a dad who does all that for them.
While most mothers would be concentrating on stirring the casserole bubbling away, I would be holding my forearm as close to the oven rack or ring hob as I could before natural instinct would make me pull it away.
Our lives are not like most others but as a family we manage and this is our life.
We have great support from the mental health team, friends and family members who are all aware of our situation and who go that extra mile to help us.
At the end of the day we are an everyday normal family just trying to survive in a world that throws many twists and turns in our paths, like many families, nothing ever goes to plan.
How does mental health affect parenting?
It screws you up, spits you out then leaves you to pick up the many broken pieces and then it’s your job as a mother to put them back together again.