Family Magazine

I Damaged My Children By Hiding My Mental Illness From Them

By Therealsupermum @TheRealSupermum

FAB 0017 1024x682 I Damaged My Children By Hiding My Mental Illness From Them

“Mum don’t you love us anymore” were the words that became the turning point for me. I had hidden away my deepest and darkest thoughts for the previous two years and as a result the effects that my mental health were having upon my children were devastating. I was damaging my children because I was trying to protect them.

I became a great pretender; consumed with guilt and fear I pretended that everything was fine. There were no problems at all, our lives were perfect, I was the perfect mother. I was in denial.

I was not a great mother in any way, shape or form.  I was hardly able to care for myself let alone 5 young children and pregnant with my 6th. Days would pass and I would fail to find the motivation to get dressed, let alone do any housework or cooking. I had ceased taking the children to school, in all honestly I barely even saw them most days, I would hide my head under the covers and wait until I heard the door slam behind them before venturing downstairs on a morning.

I had come to a standstill, immobilised by my mind. I was existing but no longer living. I shut myself and switched off against the world, admittedly against my children too.

I do remember that time, my thoughts were dark and I rationalised with the voices that told me how worthless a mother I was, that I was doing the correct thing by pushing my children away. I had two choices at that time to fight or to give up and I had given up and allowed the depression to swallow me whole. I was going to die, I would take my own life that was a guarantee and it was just a question of how and when.

By alienating myself from my children I was already allowing them to adapt to a life without me. By ensuring that they become solely dependent upon my partner gave me a sense of relief, I knew they could survive without me.

As I began to get better with professional medical intervention, the time came when I had to take full responsibility for those actions. I had 3 babies under the age of three and three older children who were much more aware.

Of course they had questions, yet I never once assumed that my children even noticed anything was wrong. I had managed to convince myself that I had shielded them from my madness. I was wrong.

My madness had left a deep impact upon them and I was oblivious to how much damage I had caused. While I fought to get better mentally, I would never forgive myself for the destructiveness I brought to their lives.

“Mum don’t you love us anymore?” were the words that my thirteen year old daughter spoke only this year.

For the first time I was honest to my daughter. I did not make excuses, change the subject or water it down. My life can never be seen through rose tinted glasses and of all people in my life; she deserved to know the truth.

And so I told my daughter.  As the fear rose inside me, that she would resent me, hate me, be disgusted and embarrassed by me, I explained to her calmly that I was indeed mentally ill.

“Why did you not just tell me mum, I would have been able to help you” was her reply.

I have since sat down with my nine and ten year olds and explained in age appropriate context how mom has a poorly head and have detailed what mood changes are and how it is the illness that makes me act or behave in certain ways. That it is never and has ever been any fault of theirs.

I am extremely proud of my children for how they accepted bipolar as part of our extended family.

I only wish I had never tried to hide it, by protecting them from it only resulted in damaging them emotionally.

 I Damaged My Children By Hiding My Mental Illness From Them

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