Sunday was Mother’s Day and many people used the internet to post tributes to their mothers. One group of mothers was on my mind yesterday – those who have mental health conditions.
Here’s a tribute for them:
You love your children and are strong for them. Many of you do a lot for your children – reading books, singing songs, and child-focused activity during their early years and school/activity involvement as they grow older. Some of you even manage to do this while working full time.
You are fortunate because often, you look to everyone else like every other mother. But I know how hard it is for you to pull yourself together to do these things. And, at times, I know the pain for how you have criticized yourself because you don’t think you do these things as well as you know you could have if you had pushed yourself beyond the lack of energy, the focus, or confidence.
Some of you have not been able to do as much for your children because your health. You also love your children and are strong for them. You are so important to them. I know how hard it is for you to make decisions to let others to care for them because you can’t. What strength and love this takes. Some of you have had this decision made for you, leaving a wound in your heart. You work hard to make sure you are able to be with them and you are a very important part of their lives.
We are a special group – invisible to the rest of the world except in distorted fictional accounts and sensationalized reporting about tragedies that arise when our illnesses go untreated. There are not any special blogs and magazines reassuring us that we are doing ok or advising us when we need special support. Our treatment/social service system doesn’t provide us with specialized support or intervention when we struggle.
There are more of us than there are mothers with breast cancer – but football and baseball teams don’t honor us with green uniforms, equipment, etc. The research world does not recognize our special needs. We are coming together and acknowledging each other’s needs.
We will support each other and continue to seek support from other mothers who do not identify as having a mental health condition. If they don’t accept us as we fully are – we will move on and find some that do. We will learn to advocate for our needs and someday the world will see us as we truly are – loving, caring, and kind to our children – wanting the best for them and giving them all that we possible can so that they have a good life.
My son affirmed me yesterday by writing BME on my card – I said something about this meaning “Best Mom Ever,” (and thought of all the ways my illness has kept me from this living out this ideal). Then he said – yes and think about it Mom – say it out loud – it is “Be Me.” So, I will do what he told me – be me and love me and honor what I have done as a strong and loving mother.
I want you to be you. Know I see that you are strong and loving mothers and my hope for you is that you are able to see this in yourselves. Never believe anything or anyone that makes you feel this isn’t true.