I intended on doing my next post on self-care but I feel like this one definitely needs to come first.
MENTAL ILLNESS- it’s ok to say it, and I promise, you won’t catch it. There are thousands of different variances when it comes to mental illness. It can be ridiculously hard and completely debilitating to live with. When you add kids to the equation it gets really tough.
!!!!!!This is not to put down someone suffering with mental illness without children because it sucks for all of us!!!!!!
Borderline Personality Disorder, Insomnia, Severe Anxiety, Manic Depression <— that’s me.
But it isn’t all of me.
I am also an intuitive empath, which makes these issues way harder to deal with. We will talk more about those in future posts!
Before I became a mom I thought that having someone in my life that loved me unconditionally, who genuinely needed me, that wanted all of my love I had to give, was going to be like hitting the lottery. I mean, why would I think that my husband would feel that way? Even in our happiest times it’s extremely hard for me to wrap my sick brain around the idea that he had any kind of choice in the matter, that he chose me. A baby wasn’t something that was always in my plan. Until my beautiful niece was born I loathed the idea of having kids. I’m kind of a selfish, emotional, unreasonable person at times and I really didn’t want to put that on a kid. As I got older my damn hormones became a league of their own and overtook my plans. Thankfully. I don’t know where I would be without Claire. She’s the best.
I’m not a Pinterest mom by any means. My kid eats Mac-N-Cheese like nobody’s business, and trust that its the kind that comes on a microwavable cup. I don’t always have the most trendy hair do’s for her. Her birthday parties are usually lackluster (Besides this year-I killed it this year.) My house isn’t always tidy. I snap way too easily because my anxiety often presents as anger. I built my kitchen around a pantry so I had a place to hide. I’m not kidding, at all. And the biggest sign I’m struggling with my mental illnesses is my insomnia. It’s a weird cycle, my insomnia causes my other stuff to trigger and my other stuff triggers insomnia. Basically, I deal with insomnia a good 98% of the time, and that’s probably being generous. I struggle so hard to get to bed at a decent time. Save the whole “get a routine” “make yourself go to bed” “try this tea” “use this oil” because trust and believe I have tried all that shit. Even when I am stupid tired my anxiety doesn’t let me sleep. If I take my anxiety meds to stop worrying, I sleep but then I really oversleep and I’m in a worse position than if I hadn’t slept. If I don’t sleep I am a really mean and moody bitch who will have awful anxiety attacks that manifest as anger. Do you see my issue? I’m impossible, I get it. I have a few products and herbs that have helped but they don’t always work for me. Rest from Thrive and a tea blend I formulated are my go-to options but I can’t count on them working every night.
Claire and I have a very….unique relationship. When I am having a bad bout of insomnia, or anything else I mentioned because insomnia is usually part of the other issues, I will tell Claire. Instead of hiding my emotions from my child, I am honest with her. Obviously, I’m not verbally vomiting on her and I certainly don’t vent to her. I give her basic words like, sad, tired, overwhelmed or nervous. I feel like it’s a very positive exercise to show her that it’s ok to embrace your emotions. Too many people in this world are so worried about how others are going to react to their emotions. Who gives a shit? They’re your emotions- own them, feel them, release them. I refuse to raise my daughter to feel anything less than confident in her right to feel however she does. I hate being told that I’m too sensitive. I mean, do you really think I like getting upset easily?
My being so emotionally open and available with Claire has paid off. We are more often than not able to easily take cues from each other. I know when she’s feeling neglected because I’ve worked too much and I know how to fix that. I know when she is having a hard time with people being gone (she has a lot of people in her life who are only sporadically available). This is one of her tough battles and it seems to present itself in the most unusual ways- ways I really don’t know if I would so easily recognize if I wasn’t so used to masking my own emotions. Just as I know when she needs a little extra TLC, she sees when I am struggling, too. Is it healthy that she’s so aware of my emotions? Is it normal for parents to share so much of their feelings? I have no idea. I never know if I am doing this right. I never know if I am making the right decisions. I don’t mean just big decisions either, I overanalyze whether or not we should have really gone down to the mail at noon instead of three.
I struggled so hard with my mental illnesses when Claire was younger. It was all I could do to make sure that I was giving her what she needed before she was old enough to grab a yogurt out of the fridge and practice some art while I took a breather. Newborns can’t get their own bottle. Toddlers can’t get their own pajamas on. Jesus, some days I couldn’t get out of my pajamas but I was still “expected” to get Claire all dolled up. I think it’s ridiculous that society puts so much pressure on moms. These ideas of being a Pinterest Mom are daunting. I love Pinterest and utilize it for all of my businesses but it’s definitely added to the never-ending pressure of being a mom. What happened to the tribe mentality? Sometimes I think those polygamist women are on to something. If you know me, you know that it takes a lot for me to say that! 😂😂
To add to the pressure, Claire was born with cleft lip & palate. More of my tears were absorbed by those cute little burp rags than any kind of baby fluids. PPD exacerbated my mental illnesses and the worry and stress of surgeries on my perfect little baby didn’t help. My labor and delivery was a total fiasco. Right after she was born they tried to take Claire to a NICU over three hours away, without me because I had lost so much blood. (Another story for another time.) We narrowly escaped having to be separated by the grace of a wonderful woman I will never forget. She came over and helped us feed Claire. Feeding can be a huge concern in babies with CLAP (Cleft Lip And Palate). Less than a month later, we were headed right up to Primary Children’s for our plastic surgeon and other specialty appointments. We were there once every week or two thereafter for what felt like a lifetime.
I never got to come up for air.
I’m finally feeling like my failures as a mom (we all have them, mentally ill or not) are starting to balance out with my successes.
I have raised a very bright, compassionate, intuitive, caring, beautiful little lady.
Some days I spend a lot of time in the bathroom crying, wanting to pull my hair out. Some nights I cry while I watch her sleep, counting the ways I probably failed her that day. Sometimes we pack up and head for the hills just so I can reconnect with reality instead of wallowing in my emotional swamp.
I will never let go of the guilt I carry from being a mom. I know that I am teaching her to be a strong woman, a kind person, independent, daring, brave, secure- so many things that I know my mom didn’t stay mindful about. I’m not downing my mom in any way, shape, or form because she’s my biggest fan and supporter. We just have very different love languages, that’s all. We have discussed this many times and by addressing it we have both become more mindful of the ways we could improve our own relationship. I also think that my generation’s definition of strong women is very different than what women were doing back then. I want my daughter to know she is a warrior. To hell with being a princess, be the dragon slayer! Unless princess is your goal, then rock the hell out of that crown. In order to be a righteous bad ass, you need to embrace all the things about you. The good, the bad, the sad, and even the manic, ugly cries.
I try to remind myself that because of my mental illnesses I am hyper aware of somethings that I otherwise may not have been. We have practiced deep breathing to calm down for years. We talk about our feelings and why we have negative reactions to certain things. Claire knows to never put people down because they’re different, because we all deserve respect and understanding, and that saying sorry is never a bad thing when we have hurt someone’s feelings or done something wrong. She understands that we all make mistakes and we all lose our cool but that our actions that follow are what matter most. Because of all of this she is a very compassionate and sensitive little human to other’s needs.
So, I may blow it on the morning routines. I may apologize a lot more that other moms because my anxiety gets the best of me a lot and wears my patience extremely thin. I over analyze every part of our lives, which at times really drives her insane. There are a lot of things I feel badly about not doing with her because being around large groups of people completely throws me through a manic episode from the time I find out about it until days after it’s over. Luckily, she has an amazing daddy who is really understanding about my disorders and he is always willing to step in when things get too overwhelming for me. He will probably never understand how much he’s helped me with his understanding.
I have been trying to be more mindful of my emotions and my reactions for the last couple of years and have made some great improvements. One of the biggest things I did for myself was get off most of the damn meds I was on. I still keep a couple around, more for security than anything, which is unhealthy in itself. I can usually calm myself down naturally with essential oils- DoTerra & Plant Therapy are my favorite brands and please do not comment about other brands because I am not interested in the never ending oil war. If you use a different brand that’s totally fine! I’m happy to see people leaning towards natural remedies and I’m not hung up on what brand you use. However, I’m not a fan of the battle of the little brown bottle labels. ** Steps off soapbox** I also practice deep breathing, herbal remedies, CBD oil, writing, crystals, chakra work, or going out in nature. And art. Starting my paint night was REALLY breaking out of my comfort zone. I obviously have very severe social anxiety and this was a way for me to push myself to be better about it, while still feeling safe in my art comfort zone. However, sharing my art with others gave me anxiety. I had been wanting to do more and share more of my work but was so insecure! I wanted to help others find their inner artist while nurturing my own and giving her confidence. In situations that these techniques don’t work for me, it really is better for everyone involved that I have my anxiety meds. ***This is not medical advice, and not to put down anyone on meds. They weren’t for me. If they help you, I am so glad you found something that helps
Many of my clients may be surprised to know I have to have a pep talk everyday before work. After 11 years, I still get anxiety.
Family functions? Anxiety.
Going to get gas? Anxiety.
Leaving town? Yup, you guessed it. Anxiety.
Having so many triggers on top of the daily stresses of being a mom really makes it hard to get through some days. But I remind myself that I am not alone. I am not the only mom sleeping in every once in a while or crying in the bathroom with the last cookie I have been stashing all week. You are not alone either ❤
In one of my darkest times since having Claire my sweet cousin suggested I check out a couple communities. Project 375 and My Counterpane . I highly suggest both communities. If you are feeling desperate and at the end of your rope, please write down The National Suicide Hotline 800 #- 1-800-273-8255. Reach out to your local healers to find out what approach will work best for you and set up small, achievable goals for your mental health improvement. Counseling and therapy are great options, as is journaling. Get the emotions out and keep them from festering and exploding, find your most effective outlet. Take time for you. Self-care isn’t selfish!
Love & light