Incessant worry is what moms do no matter how hard we try not to; even after our kids get better—and long after we should know better. Waiting for the other shoe to drop; waiting for that call to come from the police or the ER that starts “we’re sorry to say…your son (or daughter) is…” and then you fill in the blank with your worst fear. It doesn’t even have to be that dramatic. I would feel the same panic when one of my sons paused too long on the phone when I asked how his day had gone.
Welcome to Recovery Parenting. I want this new theme to help us focus on the challenges of keeping our own minds healthy while also being there for our kids—even if each of us is struggling in recovery from something… a mental disorder, an addiction or even just a really bad day.
For moms who blog and read blogs, recovery parenting online is about keeping our guilt in check and making the sharing we do with each other real and practical. But practical to me is more than exchanging recipes and craft tips. We are most in need new ways to take care of our wounded hearts and weary heads. So forget sugar-coated parenthood. I’m about making it real, each post offering a lesson learned or something to inspire and keep you going. I hope many of you will also share your good and bad days.
As those who read me often know, although I had severe depression my whole life, I just got around to treating it in my mid-forties, and then only because my eldest son, Alex, experienced a “psychotic break.” Putting our kids’ needs first is what mothers do; but, as I discovered, not such a wise move when we suffer from a mental disorder. In order to help “Alex” with his symptoms of early psychosis—and then be there again for my youngest son “Sammy” when he faced anxiety and depression in high school—I had to “fix” me at the same time. To get the right treatment for me and my sons, I used the skills I’d acquired as a professional science writer to investigate the latest research behind our disorders. The best news I found is that mental disorders are treatable at any age and recovery is possible! But recovery is not a one shot thing. It’s an ongoing daily process, one better done in an open sharing community rather than isolated on our own.
In the photo above, I’m walking in Kings Canyon National Forest with my two sons when they were 12 and 8 years old–and I was a newly single mom struggling with untreated depression. I did my best, but I shudder to remember the fear and despair I would fight off on a daily basis back then.
I used to think I would actually reach recovery when I didn’t feel this sense of panic about either of my sons. No such luck. Recovery is not a place. It’s a process. Of course we can get better. But it takes a long time to shed bad habits. So reality number one: recovery is hard work but it brings amazing rewards. I’ll write more about these challenges and rewards as I also continue to bring you news of important research in the days and months ahead–along with big helpings of my personal experience.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and feelings here in comments or on the MentalHealthMomBlog Facebook page–which is linked on the side column of this page.
Here’s to Recovery Parenting.