RelaxDamit! Nobody ever said this was going to be easy….
I saw a commercial on TV last night and the subject was parents don’t get to call in sick. this is true of all parents. You get sick but the kids still need to get fed, go to school etc… If you are lucky you have a spouse that can pick up some of the slack but it’s true parents don’t get to call in sick.
This is even more true of parents who are coping with Mental Illness or have children with mental illness. In my case my wife gets to deal with a trifecta, a spouse with and 2 children all with various forms of mental illness.
So I owe it to my family to be as prepared to manage my mental illness as possible. What you are dealing with may explain your behavior but it does not excuse the behavior. Sounds like tough love but they need to be prepared for a world that will not just give them a blank check for bad behavior because they have a mental illness.
In our case, I have to lead by example. First, I do not keep secrets about my condition from my children. They know what struggles I am facing and can see what I am doing to manage my life. They can also see that it is okay to fail. I make lots of mistakes but I get up, learn from them and move on. I hold myself accountable and I remind them we are all a work in progress.
Second, I have taken charge of my own treatment. I am responsible for managing Dr appts, medication management, and personal responsibilities.
Third, I need to keep a structured lifestyle. My smartphone calendar is chock full of reminder alerts. Some of them might seem silly but they are all there for a reason. IN the morning I have about a dozen alarms alone just to remind me of things that need to happen to get the kids up and out to school. Managing structure is more difficult than managing medications…
Last I need to remind myself to let go of the guilt. What they are dealing with is not the result of something I did or did not do. It is an illness just like mine. I am trying to be the best parent I can be. I am trying to be the best role model I can be.
A huge advantage of being a parent with mental illness raising children with mental illness is that I can empathize with them better than most parents can. I remind them that what they are feeling and experiencing is real and the pain hurts. This seems callous but it is treating them with respect. It doesn’t mean I don’t comfort them. This is something that might be lost on someone who does not have a form of mental illness. Being able to listen and not just hear is the most important lesson I have had to learn.