Parenting with mental illness

You know, it’s really easy to fall into a cycle with all this and feel like you are just broken. Between the meds, the counseling, the ups, the downs, the sleep issues, the anxiety issues, the weight gain, the weight loss, the marriage challenges, the disruptions to anything job related, and so much more, it’s easy to forget about my kids.  My kids are two of the greatest joys of my life and I can’t imagine not having them around.

Being just six weeks into a diagnosis of bipolar, I’ve done a lot of retrospective thinking about where I am as a parent and the effect that my illness has had on my reality with my kids.

I saw a request for manuscript submissions on parenting with mental illness somewhere in the wordpress-o-sphere the other day and I’ve decided that I’ll at least put all my thoughts out there.  The document I’m in the midst of creating has certainly been instrumental in helping me go backwards and realize that I’ve been dealing with mental illness and issues my whole life.  It’s nice to have this blog for daily thoughts and putting the day to day “down on paper,” but this manuscript request has been really good for me from a focused parenting point of view.  Given that parenting is one of my stronger triggers and an overall focus for me, I think it’s a good thing to have the extra focus.

Parenting is hard, I get it.  Parenting with mental illness is like trying to get out of bed in the middle of your kid’s playroom when there are Lego’s or Shopkins everywhere and you’ve got to dance through them.  It has certainly been a journey to figure out what is “wrong” with me – and I don’t necessarily feel like I’m doing it poorly given all that has gone on.  Room for improvement still?  100%.  Am I on the road and in the right direction though?  Yes absolutely.

That’s what I’ll say about the  meds.  The damn medications.  The medications which up until the last three weeks had been changed every three weeks.  The meds which ExpressScripts is now threatening to make me pay full price about because of 30 day at a time prescriptions.

They’re working.  They’re a part of who I am now unfortunately, and I’ve got to have the resolve to look at them that way or I will fail.  I’ve got to think of them as much a part of me as my glasses, or my blue eyes or my left index finger.

I want to be a good parent.  I’ve always wanted to live in the example my father, and my Father, when it comes to parenting skills.  It’s a fine and delicate balance, and the scales were made finer still by the adding of this unfair counterweight.  But it’s what I’ve been dealt in this life.  God saw fit to hand me this card, so will I wallow in self pity at the realities, or will I drink the bitter cup and ask for help to get through?

Jesus said to Peter, “Suffer the little children, to come unto me …” and much has been written and said about his thoughts and feelings on children and families.  Being a parent with mental illness doesn’t mean that I get different standards or different rules or different acceptable results.  It means I have to work harder.  Physically, mentally, spiritually, I have to work harder.

I’m down for that.

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