I want to have more of a conversation about being a parent and mental health – how it affects us, how it affects how we parent and how we live with it.
It could be that mental health has always been part of your life or it could be that becoming a parent has created some mental health issues – either way, being a parent and dealing with the struggles of mental health can be a tough gig.
I am open about my depression and anxiety – it has always been part of my life to some extent, compounded by the death of my son 11 years ago.
We are all as unique as our mental health, it affects us all differently, our triggers can be different, our coping mechanisms can be different and the way it impacts on our life can be different.
There are so many stereo-types with mental heath, so many incorrect assumptions. Depression can mean lethargy and an inability to leave the bed, with struggles to function and to work but you can also be one of the walking depressed – you function, work, go out, live and laugh but there can be an undercurrent of depression and worthlessness, questioning our decisions, ability and worth, fearing and expecting rejection, assessing situations, talking ourselves around, silently struggling.
People can be scared to mention their depression, their anxiety, their bipolar, their OCD for fear of being labelled a freak, dangerous, unstable, unreliable.
People with mental health issues can be some of the strongest people, especially when they know their triggers and have good coping strategies in place. Mental health can affect all of us, no-one is immune to it.
Being a parent and dealing with mental health is tough because it is a job that comes with guilt and tiredness, a strong desire to get it right and small humans who can push patience to its limit. The pressure to be the perfect parent is huge, especially if you are mum – we have to be able to parent, work, exercise, look good, be a partner and be sane. I reckon I can do 2-3 of those some days.
Some days I can question how good a parent I am, how effective I am/have been and even whether they are better off without me. I have experienced some scary days but I am now able to accept the way my brain works and thinks, I have good coping strategies and I control my world well.
My work with parents has always been about supporting parents through the bad times as well as the good, it has always been about listening to parents if they are struggling in that moment, that day, that week, that month.
So I want to have more of a discussion about how mental health affects us, how it impacts our lives, how it affects how we parent, what affects us and how we cope and manage it. I think honest conversations are needed to share, to connect, to ease feelings of being alone.
Please share your stories, thoughts and comments with me. Please share blog posts to reach and help more parents.
Let’s talk about this more.