Mom Guilt?

All the books and all the training in the world could never prepare a mother for the day your child is diagnosed with a mental disorder. I don’t think I ever had the time to process what this meant. Let alone how to manage this situation.

Bipolar disorder is not something that will go away with time or treatment. The treatment helps, but it’s not always effective. Some days are good and some days can be pretty messy.

I’ve done my research, I’ve read the books, I studied about these things, but the real thing is tougher than I thought. It’s even tougher when my own mental disorders make me feel powerless and hopeless.

Depression is a constant liar, whispering inside my head, saying I can’t deal with this, I just can’t do it. It keeps telling me I should give up, I should stop trying. My mind is in constant battle with my heart, I know my mind is not always right, I know anxiety creeps up inside my head and makes me doubt myself. I know these things but I still have no control. I feel lost when I can’t control my own emotions. I can’t control what they make me feel or think.

Sometimes I feel like I’m doing everything wrong and every time I try to fix things, I only make it worse.

Some days I have no idea what I’m doing. I keep trying to do the right thing and fail. I keep praying for the right words to say when I speak and the right way to handle things and I just can’t seem to do it.

Having three teenagers is so hard. All these emotions and changes happening at once. Then having to deal with depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety makes it more difficult.

One day things are going pretty good and the next day we’re yelling and breaking things and calling the police.

It’s a daily struggle. A daily battle in our heads that affects our entire family.

I wish I knew how to make things better. I try. I fail. But I keep trying.

I know things have to get better. I hope they do.

Bipolar disorder is not just mood swings. It’s manic episodes and anger outbursts, followed by extreme depression, crying spells and suicidal ideation. It’s sleepless nights and over sleeping during the day. It’s low energy, low motivation, and low self esteem. It’s uncontrollable mood swings and feelings of hopelessness. Together with oppositional defiant disorder, it creates irrational behaviors and extreme anxiety. Depression causes isolation but ODD always wants to fight it and go out.

Oppositional defiant disorder is described as a mental disorder that causes a child to be defiant and disobedient toward authority figures. Symptoms include irritable mood, argumentative and defiant behavior, aggression and vindictiveness.

One part of the brain is telling you to be sad and do nothing, but the other is telling you to do something and fight about it because everyone is wrong except you. The two disorders are contradicting each other all the time.

I try my best to not react to these outbursts, but my own stress and anxiety makes me blow up. Things get pretty bad in a matter of seconds, things are said that I don’t mean, and I feel horrible right after.

I start to think and doubt myself. What am I doing so wrong? What do I need to change? Why do I react!!? Why can’t I control myself? Am I really that horrible mother they say I am? Is it my fault that my kids have these issues?

I know I made many mistakes. I know I hurt them while I was hurting. I know my behavior affected them most. But I also know I am doing my best. I have done everything I knew how to do to care for them. I have changed to be a better mother. I would give my life to see them happy.

I know they have to grow up. But it’s not easy letting them go. They will always be my babies. I will never stop worrying about them. I will never stop loving them.

I was so afraid of my kids being like me. I didn’t want them to suffer as I did. But life is hard and parenting isn’t easy. Maybe I didn’t do a great job, but I was always there, even when I was broken I still tried my best to keep them safe and happy.

Mental illness is not a choice. It doesn’t come with instructions and it doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone, no matter what age, race, gender, or religion. It doesn’t warn you, you might not even notice the change right away. It changes your behaviors, moods, and thinking. It affects everyone around you, everyone that loves you.

End the Stigma

Mental illness does not mean you can’t go on with your plans. You can still do anything you set your mind to. It will take a little bit more effort and sometimes you will feel like quitting, but you can do it. You just have to be patient, trust the process. Learn how to cope with the symptoms, talk to every doctor or professional you can, do the research, get well informed and battle the illness with everything you can. Life doesn’t end with a diagnosis, it only means that you’re different from many. There are people out there battling the same demons every day, everywhere. Find those people that get you, that support you and really care about you. Don’t let them go.

We live in a world that offers all the tools to overcome these conditions. We can live and succeed with a mental illness.

We might feel like nobody understands us or that we’re completely alone, but it’s not true. Don’t listen to these negative thoughts, they tend to lie. You are not alone. There is hope. There is always hope!

I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness because I live it, because I fight these demons every day. I see it hurting my kids and many kids, leading to substance use. End the stigma. Start with yourself.

There is always hope! There is always help!!

Love Pao.