Recently I was asked how I cope with caring for a partner with mental illness. Do I cope day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, or does it vary? What a complicated question.
Mental Illness Videos
My name is Megan Law, and I am the new author of "Mental Illness in the Family" here at HealthyPlace. I am very grateful for the opportunity to write this blog and to share my stories and experiences on living with family members with mental illness. Mental illness is increasingly prevalent in our society, but it continues to be misunderstood or sometimes even ignored. A significant stigma against those with mental illness still exists. I hope to help spread the message that having a family member diagnosed with mental illness is not the end. There is hope for all involved.
This year, I invite bipolar moms to join me in resolving to meet our own needs in 2017. Instead of focusing on our faults this January, we can instead look past those faults to see the needs they represent. And instead of berating ourselves over that need, discrepancy, or flaw, I want to make 2017 the year we find a way to meet our needs and live healthier lives (Taking Care of Myself is the Best Way to Care for My Family).
Before the new year begins, every mom needs to hear these simple words to preserve her sanity: good job. "Good job" may seem simple and a bit trite, but Christmas has a way of leaving mentally ill mamas strung out, exhausted, and defeated (Stressed Out! Stress, Mental Health, and Our Sense of Control). After all of the efforts spent making Christmas magical for everyone else, the house is a big old mess, the kids are exhausted, and daddy's gone back to work. Mama's left, again, to put it all back together, take down the decorations, and get the family ready for a brand spankin' new year. It all seems a bit impossible. So Mama, before you start undecorating, washing dishes, and folding another load of Christmas pajamas, hear me out. Let's talk about what every mom, mentally ill or not, needs to hear before the new year begins.
Getting the kids back to school can be exciting, but it is important to take care of a mentally ill mom during the back-to-school transition. Moms with mental illness, especially, need take care of themselves in the midst of this huge back-to-school family transition.
Parents with mental illness, expect summer transition behaviors from your children. We often underestimate what a huge transition our children experience as they finish up the school year (Help Your Child Feel Confident at the End of the School Year). Their routines change dramatically, as do ours. It is normal for kids to be grumpy, overly tired, and even combative as they work through major transitions in their lives. Parents with mental illness expecting these transitions into summer may have an easier time working with their kids and avoid mental health triggers.
Mental illness and addiction runs through my family alongside codependency. Mental illness is hereditary, flowing through families, from parent to child, from uncle to nephew. Where there is mental illness in a family there is a heightened instance of addiction (Substance Abuse and Mental Illness). But we don't acknowledge enough that where there is mental illness and addiction in families, codependency is often passed down as well.
Planning ahead for mental illness during the holiday season is tough, but it is doable. I could almost feel the whisper of hypomania pulsing through my veins last weekend as my family and I rolled through the Starbucks drive-thru. I squealed with excitement as the green aprons passed me my steaming red cup. As I sipped my cup of eggnog and espresso, I couldn't help but hope that my usual upswing was on its way. I look forward to my Christmas high--to actually feeling good--all year long. Christmas is so much fun. But is hypomania really a good thing for my family (Effects Of Bipolar On Family And Friends)? How can I navigate through my bipolar disorder to have a magical and peaceful holiday season? How can I plan ahead for my mental illness during the holidays?
The Easter weekend before Tim turned three, he got sick and we spent some quality time in an emergency room. My parents were visiting and while I was gone, my father, the neat freak, got restless and decided to vacuum my family room. He moved a chair – the kind with the skirt around the bottom – and found almost every toy that Tim owned beneath it. He frowned and, according to my mother, uttered something judgmental, while collecting the toys and putting them away properly in the toy box in Tim’s room (Surviving Mental Illness in a Judgmental World).
In our neighboring Newtown, Connecticut, too many families are steeling themselves for the anniversary of an unspeakable tragedy: the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. I've recently been interviewed for an article (coming out soon) about whether I think the Mental Health system in Connecticut has changed in the year since the incident. My answer? Not yet, not that I can see. If anything, we're in danger of sweeping the issues under the rug once again. But the questions remain: Could it have been prevented? Should someone have seen the "signs"? And - more usefully, perhaps - what can be done to help stop future tragedy?