Raising children, for me, while taking care of my own mental illness, was a double challenge. I was a parent before major depression, and later Bipolar Disorder II, evolved. My article on parenting (in the menus above under “Real Life, Real Challenges”) was written several years ago but this post gives me the opportunity to add to my observations.
Support should be given to them every step of the way, as needed, per individual. We love our children and want to do the best for them. Support during pregnancy check-ups; assistance at hand, if wanted, when the baby is about to be born; coordinated discharge planning when mother and baby are leaving for home; weekly in-home visits, etc.
With that in mind, here are some things I would do differently if I had the opportunity:
- I would be less critical of family members. In fact, I think that some parenting classes can be suggested to parents with mental illness ( we’d learn the program and we’d all learn from each other) Stress techniques that would teach how to do positive reinforcement so the parent with depression/mental illness has some tools to use.
- I would teach my children at an earlier age, in simple terms, that I had an illness and that sometimes I needed the house to be extra quiet and I had to nap because I wasn’t feeling well.
- I/we would teach that the illness and bad feelings that I had were not the children’s fault, nor anyone’s fault.