** A little back history. This was submitted by a mother whose oldest child suffers from severe mental health issues. This family has been proactive in seeking all the help available for their child since the first signs of needing help, and continue everyday to do whatever they can and have to to keep everyone safe from harm, and to also give their child a chance to hopefully grow to be a productive and safe member of society. **
Sometimes I feel like our family is the “poster child” for crazy. That breaks my heart. Looking at us you wouldn’t know our struggles but once you get to know our everyday life; and the realities we have faced as a family, you will never see us the same way. Every day is a constant battle between being safe, focusing on reality and being the best versions of ourselves we can be.
Nothing about our lives seems normal. Every day routines are dictated by mood, perception and coping skills. We all play important roles and take them very seriously during crisis and rough times. It is sad to know that my children have been experiencing this level of honesty and understanding towards mental health their entire lives. They know no different. They have been advocates and supporters since the beginning; and at times, I worry that it has made them grow up more quickly than they should have. Other times, I am so proud of how open they are to people who are struggling. They are accepting and helpful, kind and compassionate, and they do not shy away from difficult situations because they are prepared for them.
I don’t want to be told that I am strong. I want to be told that I am safe. I want to be reminded that I am doing the right thing and that I am still a good parent; even on the days I break down and can’t seem to remember these things. I don’t want to struggle with feeling like I am failing my child and the world around them just because I don’t have all the answers or a quick solution.
It is hard work educating myself, my children, my family, my friends and EVERYONE we come in contact with about mental health and how it affects us all. It is exhausting! Some days you have support. Some days you have more questions than answers. Some days you face people who refuse to understand that if they play a role in your life; and your child’s well being, it means they need to be informed and open minded.
Compassion and kindness go further than sympathetic words with no action behind them.
There are pros and cons to the life we lead. Overwhelming or not, at the end of the day we are better prepared to contribute positively to society because of the life we lead and the fact we won’t give up trying!