I’ve found that life can get muddled up in my head when it’s left to sit and fester, never seeing the light of day. That’s with the normal everyday kinda things. When dealing with difficult subjects such as parenting, mental illness, or combining those into the whopper of “parenting a child with mental illness,” …talking it out, if only with myself, is critical.
I need to lay it all out so I can see what is concrete and based in reality vs what is the illness talking. I need to see progress where it’s being made and where our struggles still remain. Because I’m a writer at my core, this is how I process all of life, so it seems natural to move into this area with it.
I’m no stranger to blogging and writing. I have written, freelanced, and blogged for years about parenting, marriage, love, life, death, taxes, but mostly my children. While I have always written about them, I always drew the line at this harsh reality. I’ve never allowed myself to go to “this place” – to talk about it much – nor to give it a voice or name. I did it for noble reasons, truly. My daughter, now 14, has a right to privacy. She has a right to not have her struggles and pain shared without her consent ,with not just friends and family, but with the entire unknown world. But the nagging in me has never left. This week, after a talk that surprised me, I found that she wondered why I never talked about it ever in my blogs or writing. She kinda secretly wanted me to. I was humbled. Somehow she was getting the idea that I didn’t want to give voice to her struggle and pain, or maybe was embarrassed by it, or shamed.
Let me be clear. I am by NO means embarrassed by my daughter. I am not ashamed of her. I am wowed and blown away by her strength and courage… both things she denies she has. We both need this new endeavor… to show her just how much ground she has covered since coming into the world, and for me to show my pride in her. Mental illness is not an ugly word. It is not a label that defines her. It is a diagnosis that has led us to find hope and see the challenges before us for what they are.
I know that there are other parents and loved ones who are struggling to raise beautiful children who’ve been saddled with a mental illness by no choice of their own. They never asked to walk this road, and they did nothing to deserve the harsh path they are on. Still, it’s before them and they must walk it. It’s my hope to be able to share the face and voice of a real family, with real struggles, real problems, and real pain. To debunk the stigma of mental illness and show what it’s not – and to explain what it is.
I’m still learning… always learning. I refuse to ever give up being a student. Why? Because my precious daughter is worth it. She’s worth fighting for. Join me in my backstory, and the days spent right here in the present as we walk out this thing called life.
Feel free to post questions and comments, and I promise if you reach out, I will reach back. It’s a lonely place when you are walking this path, but you are far from alone.
Lindsey herself will occasionally write – and if she does, we will always label the blogs as hers. Mostly however, I will write from her point of view as she describes and helps me with, and from my own.