What You Need to Know About Parenting with Mental Illness

black and white photo of sad mother clinging to baby with words parenting with mental illness

Parenting is Hard. It’s not You. It’s Them and Possibly Mental Illness

In general, parenting is hard. If you can’t admit that, then you haven’t been a parent for that long, or congratulations are in order because you found the mecca of a well-behaved child. And, after you read this, can we talk?

But jokes aside. It’s okay to admit that parenting is a struggle or even that your children make parenting hard. While there is an endless selection of parenting books, none have all the answers. Most parents are just figuring things out, tantrum by tantrum.

Now, let’s add mental illness into the mix. Yup. The dreaded taboo topic of mental health. If you are lucky, you might come out of pregnancy unscathed by postpartum depression. And again, congratulations are in order cause I want to be you.

Unfortunately, I am 1 out of 9 that was affected by postpartum depression. Imagine sitting on your couch, smelling your newborn baby’s delicious scent while crying because the idea of latching him to your breast makes you want to vomit, scream, and pull out your hair all at once. You haven’t even been a mom for a month, and you’re already experiencing sensory overload.

All I could think of is that poor baby won the lottery of the world’s most non-mothering mother. For a lot of mothers, that hormonal crap storm doesn’t last that long. Yet, if you have PPD, there’s no end in sight. Most women push off those emotions as the hormonal shift after giving birth because it’s easier than acknowledging the truth. Because somehow the world has decided that mothers that have any type of mental illness are BAD mothers.

Mental Illness Makes Us Feel Like Bad Moms

So, we suffer in silence which only makes matters worse for our mental health and home life. Not only are we dealing with engorged boobs but intrusive thoughts about driving off the road. Yeah, it’s not pretty. But, good news. It’s normal. And, you don’t have to have a mental illness to suffer from intrusive thoughts. However, having a mental illness (while untreated and undiagnosed) can heighten those emotions.

In the world of unsolicited parenting advice, don’t be ashamed of getting help. It does make parenting with mental illness easier to manage. You might still suck at bedtime routines or keeping up with the laundry. But, instead of feeling like a failure because you’re still figuring things out, you can see that you are in the midst of a learning process and it has no bearing on rather or not you are a good or bad mom. I’ve been a mom for thirteen years and I’m still learning. And once you think you have it figured out, they enter into a brand new phase that you know nothing about it.

And, if anyone tells you differently, spray a little breastmilk on them. That tends to shock the judgment out of them. Remember. You are amazing at parenting. And while it looks like other mothers may have it all together based on their Instagram posts, don’t forget, it’s a filtered reality. Be kind to your mind. That’s important and so are you.

Say it with Me: Parenting with Mental Illness Does Not Make You a Bad Mom

Resources for Help

GET HELP IN THE US: Maternal Mental Health Now

GET HELP IN THE UK: NHS Services Near You

GET HELP IN CANADA: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

GET HELP ONLINE: Postpartum Support International

Black and white photo of sad young mom holding baby with Parenting with Mental Illness written at the top

Sara Green
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