The Simple Conversation About Parenting and Mental Health I Needed to Have but Never Expected to
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the combination of things going on in my brain affects my parenting skills.
Mental illness is no stranger in our home, it’s just our life. I also have past trauma that I’m working through that affects my brain, every single day.
Aside from that, I simply cannot tell you how many times in a day I ask myself if I’m making the right decision. About what? Well, basically anything. That’s the anxiety.
The OCD is literally not being able to stop organizing things into patterns and rows and the germophobia that gives me the incredible superpower of not being able to look past dirt on a single object or have much of anything with a texture on my hands. Here’s looking at you, messy science projects, dish washing, food preparation, bathrooms, winter gloves, and Lake Erie snow.
Then the ADHD comes in swinging with the ability to focus on none of the above or anything else. For a low, low price of whothefuckevenaskedforthis I also received a side of easily becoming irritable.
Mix all of that together with depression, being self-employed full-time, a disabled spouse, a child, and general life stress. Obviously, there are plenty of times I have the capacity to be a mess of a human being and not the most together parent.
I do my best to keep it all in check via health professionals.
I have also recognized something about my life and why parenting has been even more difficult as of late: My child is at an age where I didn’t really have parents and wasn’t given an example of how to parent. They’re 10, almost 11 now.
My mother died when I was seven and my father mostly checked out, both physically and emotionally. He also refused to get me the help I desperately needed for my mental health because he didn’t “believe in all that shit”.
The conversation went like this:
“I love you and I will always do my best. I will make mistakes, we all do. I didn’t really have parents when I was your age so I don’t exactly know how to be a parent to someone who is your age. I am still figuring it out so please be patient with me.”
A short, simple conversation. A part of my anxiety was relieved and no, I don’t see it as letting myself off of any hooks. I see it as giving my child a frame of reference and letting them know that it’s okay to admit you don’t know something and need someone to be patient with you.
Honest communication is how we get what we need out of every relationship, and I believe the parent/child one should be no different. They don’t need too much information right now, but they’re also not dumb. I’d rather have an honest conversation about what’s going on than another generation pretending that mental health doesn’t exist.
I’m not only trying to be who I needed when I was younger, but also who they need me to be, now. That’s going to take some practice.
Adi is a writer, gig worker, parent, wife, logical thinker, and frequent daydreamer. She attended the Florida Institute of Technology for Business Administration & Management and has owned several small businesses over the past decade. She believes in honest conversations about mental illness, social issues, the workforce, and family life.
Adi is sharp-tongued and fluent in several “languages” including sarcasm, pissy political commentary, arguing, and yelling at the steering wheel during rush hour traffic because, of course, no one else knows how to drive.
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