I am a mother and I have a mental illness..

Being a parent is hard, and having a mental illness is hard. But when you are a parent with a mental illness, it almost seems impossible.

It has been a long road for me to be finally be able to admit I have a mental illness, and the one thought that always held me back was, ‘I’ll have my kids taken off me’.

I mean I can’t tell the doctor what I really feel and how I really act when I am depressed and/or manic. They will think I’m a bad mother, they will chuck me in a padded room and my kids will go into care. Those thoughts, though irrational, are extremely real for those parents who suffer.

The guilt that I feel is unfathomable. Guilt is a huge part of depression and it’s also a huge part of being a parent. So imagine how guilty I feel on a daily basis, I’m forever feeling like I don’t do enough for my kids.

Because as parents, were judged anyway. Our choices are picked apart and our decisions are ridiculed at some point or other. Especially if you’re a new parent. Or a young parent. Or a parent with a mental illness. I was all of the above once upon a time.

There have been sunny days I’ve spent curled up in bed, whilst the kids are playing in their rooms and the sun is shining through the windows and I know I should take them out to play, but I just can’t face the day.

They have seen me cry, and wiped my tears and my eldest boy has shown tremendous strength and a maturity beyond his years. Although I have never deliberately put them in danger, there have been times where there emotionally wellbeing hasn’t been met. The days I can’t look after myself, and I have struggled to look after them too. I always meet their basic needs but I just never feel like it’s enough.

That’s why I am working with a few agencies at the moment to help support me. They reassure me that I’m doing great and who knows, maybe I am. I’ve managed to keep myself and three children alive and that to me, is an accomplishment.

But no matter what they say, and how much they try to reassure me I will always feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not being well over the years. For being the fun parent one moment, and depressed the next. For not building those relationships with other parents in the playground because I’m too socially awkward, for not always completing their homework projects, for getting them to class late. I constantly feel like I’m letting them down.

The painful truth is that I was before, when I was in denial, hiding things from doctors and refusing to accept my situation. But I am taking my medication, I am engaging with health professionals, and I am trying my best every god damn day to be here for them.

In an ideal world it would be wonderful to be the perfect parent every day wouldn’t it? Healthy home cooked nutritious meals, perfectly neat uniforms, never snapping or shouting, an immaculate home and the best of the best of everything.

Though the reality is far from the above for a lot of parents, and you know what? it’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to be a parent and lose your shit from time to time, it’s okay to cry in the shower, to moan about the monotony of parenting, to want a break. To be a human being. It’s okay.

And for all those imperfect parents out there who don’t feel you’re doing enough, as long as you love your children – you are doing enough and you are enough. Hiding how we feel, mental illness or not, is when parenting becomes stressful and problematic.

So don’t be afraid to say it. Don’t suffer in silence.

I am a mother, and I have a mental illness. I am a mother and I have struggled. I am a mother and I love my children.

At the end of the day, that’s all the should matter.

Love, Laura xo

18 Comments

  1. Sarah L Drury Reply

    Hi Laura,
    I am a single mother to an autistic son, and I have a mental illness. I almost lost my son, after a mania five years ago. Every day I feel I have to prove myself. Its a big responsibility. I feel like we are constantly judged for being ill. You are doing a fab job, you are right, its ok not to be ok. Thanks for sharing your story, its very touching.

    1. picturethepositive Reply

      Thank you so much Sarah! Reading comments like these make me want to continue to be honest and open about my recovery. It just shows how many of us are out here fighting. Keep fighting lovely you’re doing great ❤️

  2. familyfurore Reply

    I loved reading this, thank you so much for sharing. I related to all that you said and I completely agree that we are still good parents. I think it gives us an added dimension to parenting and we have experience and understanding that our kids benefit from. <3

    1. picturethepositive Reply

      Thank you so much! I completely agree. It’s so refreshing to hear from other parents who understand and don’t judge. I hope you have a lovely Christmas ☺️💕

      1. familyfurore Reply

        You’re welcome! There’s something so comforting about knowing we’re not alone! No amount of counselling can give us that. I hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas too, thank you <3

  3. unbreakableyetfragile Reply

    You are a great mother because you are taken the necessary steps you feel is best for your children! Many do not have the strength to do what you have. Before anything else you put your children first and that makes you a remarkable mother!❤

  4. Lauren Reply

    Such an honest and well written post! You are definitely showing your children the importance of courage and perseverance! You are showing them a true reflection of life and of course you are doing your best. You are right, you love your children and you are enough.
    Lauren ❤️

  5. Ethan Ross Reply

    One of the biggest reasons I think so highly of you is because of your situation. My Mum raised 3 boys, battled her own hellish mental illnesses and overcame insurmountable difficulties every single day. Naturally, when I read this, I’m reminded of all the stuff I’ve seen her go through over the years.

    I’m also optimistic. My Mum is my best friend. That’s no exaggeration. I speak to her every day, visit her at least 4 times a week and we laugh like hell every time. Haven’t had a crossed word since I was a kid.

    I say all this because I hope you realise how lucky your boys are. I couldn’t have survived any of the things I’ve survived had it not been for the strength shown by my Mum. Your boys have the most amazing example in you, and when they’re older you’ll no doubt find that you’re their best friend as well.

    Yes, you’re a mother with a mental illness. But by definition, you’re also a mother with tremendous mental fortitude; even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Your children are so much luckier than you will ever give yourself credit for.

    Having been on their side of the fence, I promise you that you’re doing something incredible, and I’m proud to call you a friend because of it.

  6. Len Ross (@Leonard11981074) Reply

    Beautifully written, Laura! … All of your fears and concerns just go to show what a caring mother you are. All of us with children, with or without a MI, ask ourselves from time to time whether we are good parents – That’s because we love our children and always feel we can do more for them.
    If in doubt, ask your children, “Who is the best mother in the world?” … I think I know who they’ll pick!
    Thank you so much for sharing so honestly!

    Len

  7. Richard French Reply

    A unique view of your experience of day to day life and mental health. Your on the road to recovery after admiting you had a condition. I think you are a fantastic mum, the boys are lucky to have you as their mum. Theres no txt books on bringing up children with mental health issues. Stand tall be proud. Your voice and experience helps others.xx

  8. Lavrax Rinc Reply

    This was so powerful and so beautifully written, Laura. You are such a wonderful human being and friend! You already hold so much love just for your friends, that I can’t imagine how much you love your children. They are very lucky to have you, mental illness or not. You’re doing amazing! Love you lots. Lav x

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