I’ve talked about what it’s like to be the one with Bipolar. Today I’m going to touch a little on what it’s like to be a parent of a child with a mental illness. Because I have a mental illness myself, I was able to catch on to the symptoms early on. I was determined to never have my children feel the way I did growing up. There is really no reason for them to, if you know what you are dealing with.
As soon as I started to see signs in my children I take action.
The signs of mental illness can show up differently for each person. My children have each shown different signs of depression as they have gotten older. Some have been more severe than others. It usually starts with sadness. I have seen the same sadness that I felt and I never want them to needlessly feel that. Because of this, one of the biggest things I look for in my children is if they are excessively sad about their life. When you take a step back and see that they shouldn’t be that sad it’s time to take some action.
With one of my children there where many more signs than sadness. The moods could be very extreme. We discovered that there was a mixture of things going on. After we found the right diagnoses and took the steps to help our child, life has been so much better. I’m being careful with what I say because I haven’t gotten permission from my children to share their stories. I might be able to do that in the future.
#1 The first thing that I did was give them a little bit of a break and a lot of love.
They are already having a hard enough time without receiving more guff from their parents. They are in need of love and support from their parents. They don’t need to hear that there is no reason for them to feel that way. There is a reason that they are feeling that way. They can’t control how they are feeling, no matter what you are they think.
They are feeling scared and have no idea what is going on with them.
When my daughter cries and says that she doesn’t have any friends I listen to her and understand that she really feels this way. However, I do take the time to point out that when she had her birthday party she invited 18 friends and half of them showed up, at the last minute. She needs to be reminded that she does have friends, not that she’s being unreasonable and trying to get attention. Even if she is trying to get attention, she obviously needs it. A little bit of extra attention to our children is only going to help them. They need to know that you are there for them and love them, exactly the way that they are.
#2 If number one wasn’t enough than it might be time to consider counseling.
Some may think that I have skipped a step here, but I have a reason for this being number 2. Skills Our brains are programmed to learn things naturally, through the normal activities that we do as we are growing up. We learn about social skills because of the situations that we are placed in, even as young as a newborn. We learn self soothing skills because our parents help to calm us and teach us that we can calm down. We learn that hurting someone is not okay because of the reactions that occur after someone is hurt, etc.
However, some of us don’t learn these skill through normal experiences. When we have a mental illness our brains aren’t shooting off the correct directions for us to handle life properly. These individuals need to actually be taught what comes naturally to many others. A counselor or psychologist is trained in how to teach these individuals those skills.
There are others that are trained in teaching these skills. However, I prefer to start with a counselor or psychologist because I feel that it is the less scary option for my children at this point. They already feel like there is something wrong with them. Counselors or psychologists also do not deal with medications, at all. They are focusing entirely on the skills my child needs to learn, even if the only skill they need is to talk.
The other reason why I start with a counselor is that, at least in our area, the counselors actually see them every week. They give them time to talk out what is going on in their lives and to feel as if they have a confidant that is on their side. All of my children that I have had go to a counselor gave me a lot of kick back at first. Within a few weeks they where reminding me about their appointment and actually looking forward to it.
Make sure you have a support system. This is a hard process! You need to also take care of you. There is no way you can take care of your child if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
#3 Natural Remedies
Most people would start with number 3 first, and I do, to a certain extent. I try having them use essential oils or even diffusing them. However, they are usually not in a place to want anything to do with them in the beginning. I believe that in order for any remedy to work, including natural, the individual needs to believe in it. If they are determined that it is a waste of time and that it isn’t going to work, it isn’t going to work.
There are quite a few natural remedies out there. You can find a few of these throughout my plant uses series, which I will be still adding to. You can also find options all over the internet. You can also try dietary changes and you can find information about that online also.
I’m linking some books with info about natural remedies if you are interested in more information about them. I haven’t used any of these resources myself, however, I have done some research into the most recommended ones. I’m very interested to get these and read them myself.
#4 If all else fails, turn to medications.
At this point you have made sure that your child knows you are there for them and love them, even if sometimes we don’t understand. Your child has learned important skills, or is in the correct direction to learn those skill once the medication helps to regulate them. You have also rest assured that you are not needlessly medicating your child. You have tried those natural remedies and have discovered that it wasn’t quite enough for them.
Now is the time to get references and recommendations to a good psychiatrist. Remember that just because they are popular or well known doesn’t make them good. You have put so much into this already. Don’t let a mediocre professional mess it up for you now.
Don’t give up! It might take some time to get the right combination of medications, skills and professionals. You can do it! You are your child’s best advocate.
What experiences have you had? I would love to hear your insight. Please leave a comment on the very bottom of the page, making sure that you are not still on the homepage.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be one. I am only sharing my own experiences in hopes of helping someone. If you think that you, or someone you love, may have a mental illness please get help.