One afternoon, I talked to a friend after work about the disconnection I've been feeling lately with my child. My kid argues with almost everything I say (at least, it feels like everything), he never stops talking or moving, and he's been having problems at school. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing control of the situation because I'm not always sure what to do about my child's mental illness, much less how to treat it. What my friend asked me next was, "Have you tried coloring with him?"
I don't know why, but being a parent feels so much easier when the sun comes out of hiding, and everything starts blooming again. It's springtime, and I'm relieved, so is my child's mental illness.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my local school system has closed until further notice. The problem is, I still have a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at home who needs to learn, grow, and stay busy. I still have a full-time job and a pile of bills that aren't going anywhere. And I still wrestle with a lot of depression and anxiety that makes it difficult to hold everything down without the reprieve of an eight-hour school day. So what's the trick? How have I learned to take care of my child's ADHD, education, and all of my other responsibilities in the face of such unpredictable school closures?
In case you haven't noticed, COVID-19 has transformed how everyone gets everything done, including how we parent in this pandemic. It's especially changed how I raise a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
As a parent of a child with mental illness, there are many things I wish I could do. My child's attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) behaviors, or my own anxiety, often get in the way. Parenting a child with mental illness is intense. I often feel like a snowball of anxiety rolling down a snowy mountain of anxiety towards an icy river of even more anxiety, and if I type "anxiety" one more time, you'll start to feel as anxious as I do. Because I am a parent of a child with mental illness, there are some things I just don't do.
A child's mental illness isolates the whole family. Social anxiety, unpredictable outbursts, sensory issues--all these things can make the outside world exhausting for your child (Mental Illness, Isolation, and Loneliness). Judgment, stigma, and fear make it exhausting for parents. Isolation in childhood mental illness is our biggest enemy. Fight it.
I'd like to thank all of you for the kind words and shared stories regarding last week's posts regarding my son, Bob's first inpatient psychiatric facility admission. I have more to share on that matter, but I'm returning to the present today for the ongoing saga of the 504 Plan.
I was almost looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. We had a pretty uneventful holiday planned--Bob would be at his father's house until Saturday evening, and my large, loud extended family had opted for a smaller gathering on Saturday (just my parents, siblings, and assorted nieces). Until Bob caught wind of this plan, and asked to come home early so he could go to his grandparents' house with us. And then I discovered it was not to be an intimate gathering (or as "intimate" as it gets with four siblings, their spouses, and 7 grandchildren); it would be the whole family--aunts, uncles, ad nauseum--totalling 28 people.
Making time for yourself, although not easy, makes all the difference when parenting a child with a psychiatric illness.
This weekend, Bob turns 10 years old. A momentous occasion, for sure--why haven't I been in the mood to celebrate? Aside from it being tough to get into party-planning a for someone who has acted anything but party-worthy...parties and Bob don't mix.