Nothing has been more gratifying and fulfilling as being a mother. I love my kids, I am proud and frankly honored I’ve been blessed with the chance to raise them. All 3 of my kids are amazing ( says every mother ever ) they are smart and talented and every day make me proud (again cliche mom things to say). But as a mother struggling with mental illness it has been hard. Damn hard.
I’m no adult, I’m still growing as a person. I’m immature and irrational and sensitive. I’m emotional, quick to anger and a people pleaser. I don’t have a sense of self or identity and over the years these characteristics have only gotten worse. (Symptoms of BPD According to http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/borderline-personality-disorder-topic-overview#1):
- Intense emotions and mood swings.
- Harmful, impulsive behaviors. These may include things like substance abuse, binge eating, out-of-control spending, risky sexual behavior, and reckless driving.
- Relationship problems. You may see others as either “good” or “bad” and may shift from one view to the other suddenly, for minor reasons. This can make relationships very difficult.
- Low self-worth.
- A frantic fear of being left alone (abandoned). This fear may lead to frantic attempts to hold on to those around you. Or it may cause you to reject others before they can reject you.
- Aggressive behavior.
Other symptoms may include:
- Feeling empty inside.
- Problems with anger, such as violent temper tantrums.
- Hurting yourself, such as cutting or burning yourself.
- Suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts.
- Times when you feel paranoid or lose a sense of reality (psychosis).
Not the greatest qualities to have in a parent. Constant worry and obsessing, worst case scenario everything. I’m in crisis mode always and man, am I dramatic. As babies, I knew they wouldn’t really notice my instability emotionally or mentally. Babies are easier that way. And being blessed with an amazing husband certainly made my hiding easier. With him around, I would be able to get away when I needed. Young adolescents, teenagers they notice more, watch more carefully. They have voices and opinions and love to share especially when upset about something. They have hormones and their own sensitivity. They are critical. Terrifying! Terrifying to the “normal” mother. Absolutely Terrifying to one fighting Mental illness.
The reality, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants with this parenting thing. To be honest the only thing I ever knew about parenting was I wanted to be the opposite of my parents (cliche thing for every child to say I think). But I really meant it, I saw addiction, abuse, and neglect in my childhood. My mom worked so much with two jobs most times I barely saw her. These were all things I declared I wouldn’t repeat. And I was successful. But I’m not a better parent than mine I’m just different. I’ve had many nights not knowing how I was going to make things work. I’ve wanted to die to just disappear and not exist. I’ve spent days in bed crying and sad for what seems like no reason. I’ve had screaming matches with a twelve-year-old over curfew. I’ve cried because my thirteen-year-old said he hated me. I’ve thought all I was doing was screwing my kids up. After all, how can I possibly raise any kid the way they are supposed to be? I can’t teach things I don’t know myself. Right???
Wrong!! I’m a mother with BPD, but the most important word in that statement is MOTHER. I love and have always loved my kids unconditionally. I loved harder because of my past. I make sure they know it everyday I make sure they know I’m here and without judgement or expectation. I tend to hold them tighter and think of them often especially when it’s a hard day and I’m fighting that dark demon of suicide (yes a mother can have those thoughts too!) I think that my trauma and all my trials and tribulations have helped me be a better mother. I believe I am just as good if not maybe a bit more unique then most moms. I have raised three amazing kids. Very strong, independent, creative and honest kids. Kids that know what it looks like to struggle and know what it looks like to advocate and learn and heal. Kids that stand up for themselves and are honest about their emotions and aren’t afraid to look for help. I did that! Through all the breakdowns, all the not knowing and all the thinking all I was doing was getting it wrong. With BPD and all. I did it and I did it well! And if I can do it with mental illness then so can you!
About Jennifer Hope
I am a wife and mother of 3 that has battled mental illness my whole life. With a recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality disorder I am writing and talking about what it means to live with mental illness and specifically my own and to be diagnosed (finally) later life.