Mothering and Mental illness

Originally posted on Psych Central

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/triple-winner/2017/03/parenting-and-mental-illness/

It is natural to wonder if you are a “good enough” mother. This can be amplified with mental illness.

My children were ages 2 and 4 when I had a psychotic break. I was hospitalized twice that year After that, I needed help doing basic tasks for a while. Even when I got back on my feet, I was not 100%.

I was too tired to take my son to the park and too anxious to make play dates. My daughter didn’t have the “supermom” some of her friends seemed to have. She has me. And, I try. But, I feel like they got a raw deal.

And there was more. I would get paranoid they were going to get harmed and not want them to see certain people. I was almost constantly distracted by voices and delusions of messages and not nearly as attentive as I could have been.

They didn’t understand that I had a mental illness called schizoaffective disorder. I had planned to answer questions as they asked, but they didn’t ask much. My daughter once questioned why I was making a sign for a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) class. I told her it was because I had a mental illness. She just said “I didn’t know that “and went back to playing.

They know I take medication and I am tired often. I didn’t want them to worry it was something else, and it seemed time we talked about it, so one day I told them. My son did not know, my daughter knew already. Neither of them wanted to hear any more.

I worried my behavior would affect them. That they would have some problems because of me. But, they are the best kids. They have friends, do well in school, are active. I need to give credit to the other people in their lives: my husband, their grandma, teachers, other parents. They picked up where I couldn’t.

I was fortunate. I had my children before I was diagnosed, so I didn’t have to worry about medications and pregnancy. That can get complicated and needs involvement with your psychiatrist and obstetrician.

Schizoaffective disorder has a genetic component. Not everyone has a relative with a psychotic disorder, but it isn’t unusual. That is another of my worries. Will I pass this illness on to my children? So far, that hasn’t been an issue.

I have a lot of “what if’s” about my mental illness. If I had known I had it before I had a psychotic break would we have had children? Would my husband have married me? I don’t know. I like my life and I can’t imagine it any differently than the way it is now

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