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How to Parent When you Suffer from Mental Health Issues

When I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I received much advice from experienced parents and grandparents. Advice on the morning sickness, not being able to sleep on my stomach or my back as my belly grew more prominent. That sort of advice. At the time, although I was ecstatic at being pregnant, it also seemed like the worse experience than I could ever have. I longed for the day when my child was born so I could lay flat on my stomach again without fear of squashing my unborn child. I wanted to be the best parent I could be so my baby would not be shy like me or lack self-esteem. I wanted her to be confident, outgoing, kind and have many hobbies. So, I studied various courses: parenting, sewing, baking, making pieces of jewellery, rock climbing, yoga and knitting thinking that I would have all the skills and the energy to teach them to her. When she was a toddler, before she started nursery, we had beautiful days of doing just some of those activities together. I wanted to create positive childhood memories for her, unlike mine. Being a stay-at-home mum, I devoted my time to my eldest daughter. I had a business that I ran from home (which I still do), but somewhere down the road, I started to lose my priorities. My eldest daughter welcomed her sister and younger brother with an open heart, but she now had to share her time with me. There was less of ‘me- and -mummy- time’. There was less baking time together as I was now struggling to focus on all the important little people in my life.

And above all, I didn’t even know who I was and what to pursue in life. After my divorce I felt lost as an individual and mother. All the advice I took and the books I read didn’t resonate with me anymore. I thought dating would help me find some stability and focus. Instead, my struggles worsened. You see, parenting when you suffer from mental health, is tricky. You have a constant battle in your head. Negative thoughts and negative images that were implanted in you when you were a child become your core memory and your core view of yourself. That you are not good enough, you are not a good parent. No matter how hard you try you still feel that you are not good enough.
You have days, weeks and months where these thoughts emotionally cripple you. You don’t have the will to do anything. When you’re alone having to parent three children, guide them to make good choices when you can’t even get out bed or take them out to the park for bike rides it’s sad for the children. However, I have three amazing children, who from being toddlers have to learn to live with ‘crazy mum’ as I like to say to myself.

This blog is about you learning to cope as a parent with mental health issues and is designed to empower you and me with the belief that we are good enough.

Remind yourself:

1. You matter to your children and your community.

2. You are not a mistake, and it’s okay to cry over the pain you have suffered but leave your past hurts behind. Today is a new day.

3. You can reconnect with the beauty within yourself and find the real you

4. Your parenting skills matter. Focus on raising your children with unconditional love and a miracle takes place inside you. You begin to start loving yourself unconditionally too.