MDAO Forum

Support for People with Mood Disorders => General Discussion => Topic started by: Lysta on March 11, 2015, 02:56:25 pm

Title: Children of a parent with mental illness
Post by: Lysta on March 11, 2015, 02:56:25 pm
I often have a lot of guilt over the life my children have as a result of my disabilities. Even though I know in my head that I have no control over having mental illnesses, my heart mourns for the life they are missing by being stuck with me as a Mom. That being said, my ex-husband is absentee so at least I'm here.

I talk to my kids about mental illness, what it means to have it and how I deal with it. My son has OCD and GAD and my daughter has severe ADHD so I do think they understand better than some children would. They've assured me that they don't feel ripped off having me as their mom but I always thought they were pacifying me.

My son spends a lot of time at a local bike shop and confides in the owner there. Anyway, I called the owner today to try and work out a deal for my son's 17th birthday next month. By the time I got off the phone I was bawling my eyes out. He told me he was so glad to speak to the wonderful woman who is Josh's mom. This kind of caught me off guard so I asked him what he meant. He went on to tell me that Josh had spoken to him about me and our family situation. Josh told him that he never felt like he was missing out because I was a great mom and put everything into being a great dad too. It meant so much to me that he thinks of me this way. It validates what I'm doing and makes me realize that I might not be everything I want to be, but I do seem to be enough.

I thanked him for sharing that and I guess he heard my voice wavering. What he said to me after that I think will stick with me forever. He said, "Elizabeth, what you need to realize is that in time, it won't be the things that you couldn't do that stick in people's minds; it's all the things you did and tried to do that make the difference."

It's nice that my tear ducts are getting a workout today for reasons other than sadness  :)
Title: Re: Children of a parent with mental illness
Post by: Dragonfly on March 11, 2015, 08:54:44 pm
Welcome Lysta,

I am so glad that you shared this post with us. I too have felt guilty about being very sick from my mental illness and putting my kids through a hard time. I also feel very guilty about what I put my late husband through.

You are to be commended for what you have done and are doing for your children.

That man that said those very positive things to you shows how he likes the way you have brought up your son. He has such respect for you as a Mother.

I think it is great that you talk to your kids about your mental illness. It should not be hidden from them.

You have a very good relationship with your children. As I have already mentioned other people notice this.

So glad you are on this forum. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

Title: Re: Children of a parent with mental illness
Post by: Soozan on March 12, 2015, 10:26:19 pm
Hi Lysta and Dragonfly!

What great posts! I am so glad you brought this up!

The guilt that i have been carrying too has been overwhelming at times. Until 2012 I was a single mom and have a beautiful daughter. She also says that I was a good mom and knows I did my best. In 2010 I had the worst breakdown I have ever had and lost her for the better part of a year as Children's aid got involved as I was hospitalized and couldn't look after her. Luckily my sister was able to look after her but it was the worst hell I ever went through. People said to me "well she will always be your daughter" but until she was back under my roof, and my responsibility again, it felt like she wasn't ... I just kept thinking.. Yeah .. you lose your child to children's aid and then see how it feels!  It tore me up hearing her on the phone crying to me, asking me when this would all go back to the way it was... Eventually, I worked so hard getting better, going to counselling and meeting all of CA's requirements, and by the Grace of God met Rich and got her back again. She is now 18 and I am so grateful for her in my life. I also made sure that she had counselling as well, although I must admit that I think her counselor had her own prejudices against those with mental illnesses from some of the things my daughter would tell me... that made me angry but my daughter would just say ... its ok mom .. she just doesn't understand AND she doesn't know you...

After many long talks about my illness, she says that she really developed a level of compassion from having a mom with a mental illness, and I agree, she is so empathetic and has a beautiful heart. Her biggest complaint is that now that I am medicated, I am not the "fun mom" like I was when I was hypomanic. We used to just up and go on weekend trips.. go out to dinners, go shopping, move residences whenever it struck my fancy, of course she never realized I was living off of credit and went about 30,000 in the hole .... (luckily I was able to do a consumer proposal and got rid of the debt.) But that is what she has to live with now ... she also forgets the bad times when I would scream at her when my moods got the better of me. I think that's one thing about kids, they only tend to remember the good times (unless there are no good times) and tend to let go of the bad.

Lysta, I was so touched by what that man said to you! I hope you own his words because I am sure you deserve it! You sound like a great mom! And so do you Dragonfly! I think we can all pat ourselves on the back for doing our best with what we had to work with!

Thanks again for this post, I am sure it will and is helping a lot of the parents who read this!

- Soozan
Title: Re: Children of a parent with mental illness
Post by: momfellinglost on April 05, 2015, 01:21:03 am
I have read an started to reply to your post many times only to stop. I was trying to find the right words for what I wanted to say. I too grew up with a parent with a mental illness along with a sibling. For me it was awful. Not because they were awful but because they were untreated, that can change how a parent does the job of raising children. Those who work to deal with their illness makes a difference. It can teach them that trying to deal with even if we aren't good at it counts. It teaches them tolerance, along with compassion for those who chose not to deal with it. As well as how to treat others no matter what the problem is. So I think you have given your children tools that many don't get from their parents. We aren't perfect but then who is.  It didn't change the fact that I loved my parent but that given the age and the time they grew up made it impossible for them to admit they had a problem that could be helped by a doctor. One got treatment and changed the relationship with their children for the better it helped to heal the wounds that were there before. Words can hurt and they can heal but the need for words is forever and until they have children they don't understand the love and the guilt that parents often have no matter if they have a mental illness or not. your post is a reminder to keep the lines of talk open no matter how old they are.
Title: Re: Children of a parent with mental illness
Post by: paulm on April 10, 2015, 07:54:59 am
Hello Momfellinglost. Great reply. Take Care. paul m