Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Mom Living with Mental Illness

 My daughter makes me sad some days. She has a mood disorder, though has been stable for much of the last 6 weeks. Recently she’s more depressed and irritable. She tends to catastrophize or think the worst. “Everyone hates me” “No one likes me” “I’m just going to fail” blah, blah, blah.  I am not dismissing what she says, or making light. I know that she hurts. She’s been bullied, she’s lost her best friend, and she feels pretty lonely most days. She has ADHD and finds it hard to focus at school or get homework done. It can be stressful - I know she feels overwhelmed at times.

When she’s tired, when she’s stressed she lashes out at her family – particularly me. Last night it started with some swearing… When I told her it wasn’t OK to speak that way, she responds “I don’t care. I don’t even want to live here… Why can’t I move?  Why can’t I go to boarding school?  You’re getting a new kitchen – why can’t you send me to school? You care about kitchens more than you care about me!” blah, blah, blah…

She can’t be reasoned with when she gets worked up… In fact there is no talking at all... I know she’s sad.  She wants to be popular; she wants people to like her; she wants to be normal… She thinks if she goes somewhere else all of her problems will be solved.  She still doesn’t get it…  THERE IS NO NORMAL. Everyone has challenges; everyone has problems. Most are able to hide them and function. She can’t always do that. I hope one day she will embrace her differences. Until then, I will continue to support her, talk her down. I’ll rub her back; convince her to go to bed. She needs sleep to clear her mind, start fresh. I am done giving into her demands to avoid a fit. I am ready to accept the challenge of making her face her problems instead of trying to solve them. I will not enable.

After several years of allowing her to get me amped up over the “crisis du jour” I have stopped. I am trying to focus on being the adult, dictating my own reactions. I know she doesn’t choose to swear, or make unattainable demands of me. I know she loves her family. I know she wants a good life. I will support her through this. I love her. I see many parallels with recent teen events in the news and I am scared and sad, but empowered. I will not let this happen to my daughter. I will not be the one who didn’t know, didn’t care, and didn’t do something out of fear of embarrassment or money or repercussion. 

It is hard to live with mental illness. 

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