I’m a busy mom to an almost 6-month-old boy. I admit I have not been keeping up with my own personal mental health blog. In my last post, I reached out to the borderline personality disorder (BPD) Mom community and shared my intentions of creating a program for moms with BPD to be confident and effective moms. I asked them to share with me what they would want in a program if it existed. The first comment provided great feedback about wanting to know how to play and talk with their toddler. The second comment, on the other hand, was a complete disappointment. This person told me that I was wrong to think moms with BPD deserved and would be helped by this program. They told me they could defend their position and asked me to private message them. I will not be doing this. I feel very confident in saying that they are wrong.
I am no stranger to the negative stories people have about their present or former loved one who experiences BPD. I know people from my past and present can tell you some pretty upsetting stories about me. Who are we to damn an entire group of people because of our negative experience with one of them (or maybe a few of them)? Who are we to say the individuals with BPD are not deserving in comparison to individuals with another mental health issue? We can’t do that. That is discrimination.
In my personal and professional life, I have learned that people tend to behave in a certain way because they do not know how to behave differently. Knowing that you shouldn’t yell and scream is VERY different from knowing how to avoid yelling and screaming, especially in the case of BPD where there are emotion regulation issues on a very deep level. I have seen time and time again that when someone is presented with the tools to learn how to regulate, cope and communicate they can make great changes in their life. The individuals that tend to occupy the negative stories are the ones who do not have access to effective support. There is also the unfortunate reality that not everyone will be helped due to a variety of factors we may not be able to control. Regardless, everyone deserves the chance to have the tools presented to them. They deserve the opportunity.
Being a mom is hard enough. Mommy shaming is so prevalent in our society. Every decision a mom makes comes under scrutiny. There are hundreds of experts offering the “best” way to raise children and how to be a good parent (many times offering contradictory information). The high, and often unrealistic, expectations on moms can be enough to create postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, postpartum psychosis or worsen existing conditions. Being a mom that experiences emotional sensitivities can add an extra layer of difficulty and vulnerability. Since moms tend to be the primary caregivers of children, they have a massive impact on how their children develop (I completely acknowledge the dads that are the primary caregivers. Moms are still more likely to take on this role). If mom does not have the tools to properly cope, communicate and regulate this will affect her children’s development, her relationship with her children and her view of herself. In some cases, this may an issue passed down through the generations (her mom struggled emotionally, so now she struggles emotionally and possibly later on her children will struggle emotionally). Why not stop this chain of events? When we help a mom improve herself, her parenting will improve. This means the lives of her children will improve. Happy and healthy moms and children should be a priority.
I don’t expect to ever be a perfect mom (I still feel anger surging through my body when my son takes longer than I would like to settle). I do expect that I will always try my best (when I feel this surge of anger I put my son down on a safe surface and take a few seconds to myself). If there is something out there that can support me in improving my ability to parent then I would like to try it. I deserve that opportunity and my son also deserves it. I don’t expect to help every mom I meet. That’s just a fact of life. I do expect to always offer the tools. The moms I will meet deserve that.
About Kristen Bellows
Kristen lives in Southern Ontario with her partner and their new baby boy! She identifies as Mad and believes that her emotional differences are a part of who she is. Kristen is a registered social work, working as a dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) skills group facilitator. She is also training to become a birth and postpartum doula. Since giving birth, Kristen has become interested in exploring how mental health issues intersect with motherhood. Kristen identifies as Mad and believes that her emotional differences are a part of who she is. She loves cats, reading, singing, pickles and learning. You can read more of Kristen's blog posts on her personal blog www.prideinmadness.wordpress.com