Being a mother is a gift that is unimaginable to any woman who does not have a child in their life. It’s a connection that is unmatched and insurmountable in any form or other relationship. It’s a love that grows continually, a love that always wants more and better. It’s being terrified that you can’t prevent pain, injustice, heartbreak and at times even death. It’s laughing at jokes that aren’t even funny, but the way they say it makes it’s hilarious. It’s listening to stories that go on and on without a point. It’s always being available for the “Mommy watch me!” yells and “Mommy I need you” pleas. It’s drowning out the word MOM repeated over and over in attempts to get your attention. Its songs sang out of tune and settling squabbles with siblings. It’s being mean, and teaching hard lessons, that hurt you inside so deep you want to cry, but you must stand strong with resolve. It’s being strong for them when you are weak. It’s smiling when you want to cry, and crying when you’re smiling with pride.
The day our kids come into this world, we see this perfect baby boy or girl. We are overjoyed and see so much going forward. We have our expectations, and ideas all formed in our head for this perfect childhood and motherhood. We start to dream of our family vacations, of our kids future and so much more.
It’s difficult enough to know that your child is seriously suffering, but with mental illness, a parent has to deal with much more than the illness itself. There can be personal shame about having a family that is not “normal.” There is the wish to react in the “right way,” without having the vaguest idea what that “right way” is.
I don’t know the answers, but I am willing to reach out so that other parents know that they are not alone.
My son has had ADHD since he was born. We started medication when he was just 7 years old. He has a great sense of humor, a huge loving heart, so much empathy towards others and wears his feelings on his sleeve. He will also say and do the stupidest shit that will get him consequences. These consequences are what will often throw him into his black hole as I call it. It is hard as a parent because I have to teach that there are consequences yet walk on a fine line with emotions that I don’t always understand of my son.
We had a bout with lying, stealing, trying to cover up his lies with lies. It was bad. We had a bout with him trying anything, as he is impulsive. This I have to say is my worst nightmare. Will he try drugs? Will he jump off the cliff when others dear him? Will he drag race? Will he do stupid things when he gets his license? and so much more just goes through my head.
I have searched for the right doctor, the right diagnosis, the right treatment, the best everything. Often, I feel my search had no guideposts in this new, unfamiliar world. The mental health world is pretty far and few between when trying to get help.
Putting my son on depression meds scared the shit out of me. I did the research, I am in education so I have seen what these meds do to kids first hand. Some I saw positive results and sadly in my teaching career I have lost many students to suicide. It literally scared every once of me.
Accept your child’s diagnosis.
For many parents, accepting that your child has a mental illness is hard. There is a great wish to avoid and deny. On the good days, it is easy to believe your child has overcome the challenges and is okay. For a few months, my son seemed ok. Then one day it hit like a ton of bricks. He didn’t know why, he couldn’t explain it, it just happened. He was the saddest kid, yet so successful in his sports. His grades dropped, he broke up with his girlfriend and he couldn’t get out of bed. He wanted to hurt himself and was just awful to be around. It was hurtful.
The problem is that shame, guilt and fear can get in the way of getting the right help. Unless acknowledged, these personal feelings can limit your ability to reach out and maximize the help you can get for your child and for yourself.
I finally gave in and knew that my son needed more than I could give and more than the therapist could give him. He has started medication. I can’t say I am ok, but I am watching him closely along with his teachers, coaches and friends.
We are not far in, but we are in the successful lane. The other day, my son looked at me and said “I didn’t realize this was how good happiness felt”, it broke my heart to hear him say these words. He is 15, and in my eyes, kids should just be happy souls. I understand first hand that it is impossible to always be happy, but this made me truly realize that I had made the right decision. We have and will have many bumps in the road along the way.
Grades are up, he is no longer in bed all night after school, he is more active in the house with chores, helps me with dinner, eats dinner at the table and overall has found his humor again. I don’t know how long he will need meds or if this is temporary or forever, but today I have a happy kid. ( Most Days)
Being a parent is hard! Having those around you at times judging you or telling you how to parent a kid like this is even harder at times. Follow your parent gut and just know at the end of the day, you are doing the best you know how to do.
Becky Shaffer| Life Coach| Educator| Author| Speaker| firstname.lastname@example.org