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?
Self-Care - Parenting Child with Mental Illness
Once again, I'm going to admit something that's difficult to bring up because that's what Life with Bob is all about--transparency and honesty. So here goes: sometimes I feel burned out parenting a child with mental illness. I have found ways to cope, but parental burnout has still lodged its way into my life and my family's lives. It's affected the relationship I have with my son and the relationship I have with myself. What is parental burnout, and what can you do about it when you have a child with mental illness?
You must be courageous when parenting a child with mental illness. After all, if being the parent of a child with mental illness were easy, then there wouldn't be a blog dedicated to the topic. Life with Bob wouldn't exist. That's why I'm not afraid to admit that raising a child with mental illness takes more courage than any calling I've ever had--sometimes more than I have stored up. (At least, that's how it feels.) Evidently, though, I do have what it takes, and you probably do, too. So why does parenting a child with mental illness feel so scary sometimes, and where does all this parenting courage come from?
"Raising a child with mental illness is probably one of the easiest things I've ever done. I'm always calm, and I never need any help," said no one ever.
Raising a child with mental illness usually comes with a healthy dose of "mom guilt," and raising a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is no exception. While a little "mom guilt" keeps me on my toes, sometimes it becomes debilitating, so I was relieved to find out that ADHD and "mom guilt" are co-occurring problems that many parents struggle with. I'm not alone, and neither are you.
Maintaining mental health over the holidays can be a real challenge for teens and young adults with mental illness. With 64% of mentally ill people finding holidays stressful, according to a study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it is important to find ways to stay healthy during the holidays. So read on for holiday mental health tips.
A lot of energy goes into changing the world for our children, and that's before childhood mental illness joins our parenting struggles. If it's been a rough day for my son, in terms of his disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) especially, I have barely enough energy to make dinner, let alone "change the world." Making change for our children is important to me, though. After dealing with childhood mental illness the last few years, I've realized that, sometimes, the world around my son needs more of a "cure" than he does.
Staying mentally healthy as a parent of a child with mental illness can be a struggle. It's difficult to watch your child experience depression, angry outbursts, or suicidal thoughts. Being a parent means having an extraordinary capacity for love, and with that comes an extraordinary capacity for worry. Your child can't make it without you, though, so it's important to recognize when you need to reach out for help, too. You need to stay mentally healthy for your child with a mental illness.
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.
Self-care is critical for parents raising children living with mental illness. As parents, we tend to put our child's needs ahead of our own. This doesn't work. I've put together a list of eight self-care tips for parents of children with mental illness.