maybe you know that my husband & I were surprised by a beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, sweet-natured, PERFECT (of course) little baby girl who was born just over a month ago. her name is Iola, and we love her to bits and pieces. though not literally. cause that would be odd. and unfortunate. 😉
maybe you also know that I have generalized anxiety disorder & clinical depression. the first time I remember experiencing a very-not-normal type of anxiety, I was only five years old, although it really came at me like a punch in the gut the summer after I turned 16.
if you’ve been around the blog for very long, you probably know both of those things. but here’s something you might not know:
mental illnesses like these run in my family.
and my husband’s family.
and for this reason, I was never really sure I wanted to have my own children.
sweet, freshly-diagnosed girl looking out into her future with these fears, this is for you.
strong mama in the double trenches of mental illness & motherhood, this is for you.
tentative pregnant gal who never had to think about this until you had to go cold turkey off your meds, this is for you.
anyone who loves a mama with a mental illness, this is for you.
come on, have a seat, sister.
rest your weary bones.
let’s talk this one out.
being a human with mental illness(es) is hard. like, hardest thing I’ve ever done kind of hard. being a momma on top of that is absolute emotional chaos, regardless of how “easy” your baby is or how much help you have or how wonderfully rewarding being a parent is.
it’s just hard.
it’s so so hard.
and I’m with you.
sometimes I’ll look in her sweet little eyes, and instead of happiness I just get scared out of my mind.
scared that my daughter will have to endure the kind of pain & suffering & judgement & rejection that I have because of my mental illness.
I’m scared that she’ll get some terrifying combination of the dozens of issues there are between our family histories.
I’m scared that it will happen so young that she won’t be able to enjoy her childhood.
I’m scared that my mental illness will distance her from me.
make her think I don’t love her.
I’m scared that my mental illness will mean I won’t be my best for her.
won’t be emotionally available.
too emotionally available.
make me too reactionary.
keep me from enjoying each moment with her.
I’m scared that she won’t ever know a world without mental illness.
I’m scared that my mental illness will keep me from supporting her how she craves to be supported.
keep me away from her competitions, games, events.
keep me from connecting with parents of her friends.
keep me from being selfless.
I’m scared that the way my mental illness reacts to lack of sleep will mean she always has a cranky mom.
I’m scared that she will blame us for her own struggle.
I’m scared, like any mom, that she will feel the pain and fear of that struggle.
but then I remember something.
not just one something.
I remember everything.
I remember all the moments in the dark on the floor of my bedroom as a teenager that I felt like the pain would never end… and, then I remember… it ended.
I remember the time sitting cross-legged on the floor of a cabin in arizona, where I finally realized that my illness is also my power & my story & my vehicle through which I offer my gifts to the world… not a disqualifier.
I remember the ways in which my illness has opened doors for me to engage & hold space for the spiritually broken and homeless, who no one else knew how to reach for.
I remember that it’s my illness that has given me healthy friendships & made it impossible to continue walking in some unhealthy ones.
I remember that in a large part it’s my illness that ended one relationship so I could find the man I was meant to share my lifelong story with.
I remember that my illness has made me strong & wise beyond my years & sensitive in the best ways.
I remember that some of the biblical prophets we most respect were depressed & confused & lonely… and look at the power their experiences unleashed upon our world.
I remember that this struggle is also the most precious gift.
that it has lead me to myself.
to Divine Love.
to the unraveled and unloved.
I remember that this has made me who I am.
and that who I am is full of goodness & blessing.
and that is a good, sweet thing.
rock on, mama with the most tender mind.
rock on, mama who feels everything as deeply as a human heart can.
rock on, mama whose empathy drives home every genuine extension of kindness.
rock on, you mentally ill, spiritually thriving mama.
your child will be good.
we got this.