Mental Health Blogs

Parents of Mentally Ill Children Have a Long and Difficult Journey

I’ve long been a fan of the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If.”

If you can keep your head when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you…

I can relate to this verse. I’m sure all parents of mentally ill children can. Often the greatest challenge we face is not going stark raving mad ourselves.
Being the parent of a bipolar child is painfully tough. There's coming to terms with your child's mental illness, the expenses, and facing the stigma. More on my parenting blog.If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting…
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…

Being the parent of a bipolar child has not made me popular. My child has been passed over for parties and had his own invitations declined. Other parents who only know my child by the stories they hear from their own kids are quick to label him as a bad seed. And if he’s a bad seed, surely he must come from bad parents.

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…

We all have high hopes for our kids. When your child is diagnosed with a mental illness, it’s hard to come to terms with the impact of the diagnosis on those hopes. Should you continue to worry about paying for college, or just focus on getting him through high school?

If you can …watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools…

Undoubtedly, the hardest part of parenting any child is the hurt we suffer when they suffer. Our children tend to suffer more, and there are few (if any) rewards to soothe their suffering.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss…

I try not to think of all the prescriptions I’ve filled in the past five years. Particularly the ones I refill—at full market price—only to have the psychiatrist a day later agree they are not working and here, try this instead, and no, it’s not available as a generic. And it may not work either. But let’s hope for the best.

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you…

People fear what they don’t understand. Many people don’t understand mental illness. Some of them are closer than you think—friends and family members you never expected to do or say hurtful things.

Kipling’s words paint a disheartening portrait of the world—not unlike the world we face daily as parents. But at the end, he offers this as inspiration—if you can survive all this adversity,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

helpingWhich perfectly describes those moments when we are proud of our kids…when we feel like we’re doing right by them…when we haven’t lost our temper or cried in front of them…you know, the good days.

I wish all of us more of those.

This entry was posted in Bipolar Child, Parenting Child with Mental Illness, Psychiatric Medication, Stigma Mental Illness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

108 Responses to Parents of Mentally Ill Children Have a Long and Difficult Journey

  1. Maureen says:

    My 24 year old daughter has been experiencing mental health issues since age 11. Many hospitalizations, suicide attempts, all the things that mentally unwell persons experience. Last night, she left home once again in a manic state, and proceeded to spend last night and today, in and out of a delusional state. She was released from the hospital on Monday, and it is Wednesday and here we are again. I love my daughter still, I dread what might happen to her. Keeping my own sanity through all of this has been the greatest challenge I face. There is no “normacy” to any day. I am tired emotionally, physically, and mentally, and so isn’t my family. She has no idea what she is doing. I have decided that the only thing I can do is pray and continue to hope that the answers and guidance will come.

  2. Janina Moe says:

    My daughter is only abusive and bipolar with me, therefore nobody else believes me she is mentally ill and think I’m lying. She has used me, lied about me, claims credit for me buying her a car, taking her to dinner,etc. She only comes around to ask for money and is very abusive and disrespectful at all other times. I’m at my wits end. She has a one year old son. His father is a deadbeat loser. I’m really on the end of my rope with her. I cannot take the abuse anymore.

  3. Jill says:

    It is heart-breaking to ‘lose’ a child to serious mental illness, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by it in one way or another. To be at the receiving end of a child’s hurt, anger and above all, confusion, can feel like abuse, but I’m not sure there is real intent to be abusive. The only support I might offer is to tell yourself that the essence of your child is still within, and that however s/he might rage against you and /or the world, your only response is to continue to offer your unconditional love (and of course to keep yourself and your child as safe as you can). Hope is all any of us in situations such as these have in this life. I wish you all the very best. There are many of us who bear this silent burden day by day, and I hope it helps you to know that you’re not alone in your struggle.

  4. Lisa Furr says:

    God this year has been so hard I have and still am fighting breast cancer and before that already had health issues. My 33 year old daugher is bipolar and has never moved out. She had a normal 14 year old daughter and a 9 year old bipolar son. Her and her son have other mental health issues. She has always been mentally abusive but this last year has turned physically abusive to since she knows I cant fight back. Her son has always been violent. Now I have to leave and she will say Im abandoning her. I left before I had surgery but she lost her home within a month had to go to a motel to live and talked me into coming back. She since has started drawing SSI. But with me sick she has made many mistakes. Now we r hungry living in a condemned house where she has moved an abusive boyfriend in. She blames me for all her problems has taken all my freedom. I can stand to have her around me now. And what Im saying isn’t d half of it. Im scared she will hurt me bad before I can get out. And Im worried about my grand children. She can fool people into thinking Im the problem. Now I believe I’ve wasted my life on her. So fed up.

  5. MaryAnn says:

    Why do we have to suffer in silence. I to have a mentally ill child with a veriody of problems and can explode over the littlest thing. It’s very hard to find him the right help or even convincing him he needs it. There should be a place for those who live with the mentally ill can go to find confert, support or just a place to cry amoung those who get their pain.I feel for all those whos replys I’ve read because I’ve lived it too.I wish I could hug you. If only it can make things ok for a bit.

  6. s says:

    I’ve decided to post a comment just to let other parents know that you are not alone and really to not feel so alone myself. I am currently sitting in the er with my 16 yr old son. He is bipolar along with a handful of other mental health ailments. He assaulted a classmate a teacher and a police officer. We are waiting for him to get admitted into an inpatient mental health hospital. I am worn down and can’t wait for him to be 18. I’ve already decided that I will not let him stay with me past his 18th birthday. I need to preserve my own mental health. Whoever you are out there, please hang in there. We can do this. I’ve got to believe there is a light at the end of this tunnel…maybe we can meet there.

  7. Thank you for your comment. I am so inspired by your ability to be appropriately selfish by setting boundaries for your self and knowing your limits. That is so hard to do as a mother of a child with mental illness. But it must be done.

  8. Susy says:

    Dear s, I’m so sorry you have to go trough this. Know that you are not alone, I wish I could be there to help and support you but from the distance and with all my heart I send you a great big hug. You are a great woman and an amazing mom! Sending lots of love your way.

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