Raising kids when you have mental illness
20-something miseries, baby, mental health

Mental Health Monday: Raising Kids When You Have a Mental Illness

I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was a little kid. It’s always been a part of my plan, but when mental illness came into my life, I was filled with doubts. How could I be a good mom when there were days I simply couldn’t stop sobbing? What if my kids inherit my illnesses? Am I being selfish by having kids, knowing there are all these risks to their wellbeing due to my own lack of wellbeing?

Now that I am a mom, I still have a lot of these fears, but honestly, they’re not so debilitating anymore. Mostly because being a mom has actually been good for my mental health. I still have plenty of days where I feel like getting out of bed will literally strip my atoms apart quark by quark, but then I hear my son babbling to himself in his crib, and even if I can’t muster a smile, I can get out of bed to change his diaper and feed him and hold him. He brings me a comfort I’ve honestly never understood before, despite a truly amazing husband and wonderfully loving friends.

So all is well, right? Well…I’m not so sure.

Usually I would be utterly thrilled by anything that can lessen the effects of my mental illness, but I have a few worries about how much my son helps with my mental illness. Kids are very intuitive; what if he starts to realize how much he helps me, and starts to feel responsible for “keeping Mommy happy”? Then, inevitably, there will be days where even my unbelievable love for my son won’t be able to mitigate my depression and anxiety, and he might see them as his fault somehow, or like he isn’t enough anymore.

I never want my son to feel these things, never ever. I’m not sure how to prevent it exactly, but it’s something I’m trying to be very aware of. Maybe pointing out other things that make me happy and getting excited about them too will help him see that he is not responsible for my feelings. Once he’s old enough to understand, I hope to have a conversation with him about all this, but I want to nip this potential problem in the bud before then if possible. I want to make sure he doesn’t subconsciously feel responsible for me from a very young age because of how much better he clearly makes me feel.

I just love him so much, and I know no one can parent perfectly, but I want so badly to avoid passing on any lasting negative effects. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but it feels like a worthy endeavor to strive for anyway.

If you can relate, you can also check out my video on HealthyPlace: My Baby Helps My Depression, But I’m Wary.

2 thoughts on “Mental Health Monday: Raising Kids When You Have a Mental Illness”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, as I am someone that suffers from major depression disorder. My husband and I are in the process of adopting and I know one day, I will be faced with these concerns as well. It is such a refreshing thing to know that I am not alone with this condition. Depression is so very isolating. The best thing you can do in my opinion is just always being open & honest when your son when he is ready to understand about the illness. He can grow up watching you do coping strategies like journaling, art, or anything that brings your soul peace. You can show him how important self care is, which so few kids understand today. Keep going girl! I just started a blog about reselling & mental illness. Feel free to stop over 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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