Mommies with Mental Illnesses

Updated on July 13, 2010
S.S. asks from Osgood, IN
12 answers

My psych history is pretty extensive so I wont go into all of it. The breif version is that I was dianosed with severe depression and than latter a mood disorder (most likely bi polar) and have had an eating disorder (bulimia) for 7 years. I have a history of cutting and burning (but havent in 3 years) and have been inpatient twice and have done a lot of outpatient. I love my son more than anything in the world. in fact we call him our little miracle baby because women with active eating disorders dont tend to get pregnant alot (I wasnt even getting a period when I got pregnant. The thing is I worry about what he is going to think of me latter when he is old enough to understand...will he be embaressed to have me for a mom? everyone says I'm a real good mom, but the thing is I feel like I have to try twice as hard because of my mental health. I want to mention that a mood disorder is a lot different than depression. with my mood disorder I get really depressed than in less than 5 min (or as mush as a month) I will get really happy. the kind of happiness that leads to compulsive behavior and talking at such a rate that no one understands me, and I feel like I have to get everything done now! and then I get really confused and sometimes dont know where I am (I got lost in the parking lot of my apartment once I know it was my apartment building but I didnt know which door was mine) I also get really paranoid and and scared for no reason. like if my husband is 5min getting late from work I will be convinced something really bad happened and it takes him hours to calm me down. I am also worried about my son picking up the habits of my eating disorder...its only a matter of time before he relieses that mommy goes to the bathroom and awfull lot after dinner. I am not looking for anyone to say I need to stop for him, because anyone with this problem would know that you can't stop for someone else. and even if my ED goes into remission i would still always have a mood disorder. I guess I just want to know if there are any other mothers on here that have these problems and how they deal with them.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for responses. I think I should mention that I am in therapy. I started therapy when I was 18 (so 7 yrs ago) than moved so I was no longer on my parents insurance. I had free health care insurance when I lived in MA and was in and out of therapy and on several meds that didnt work. everyone wanted to treat my mood disorder and not my ED because I was cutting and burning enough to end up in the ER on a regular basis. When I moved back to my home town I lost my insurance and wasn't able to afford it, after having my son I was eligiable for medicaid, and decided to start therapy again. my therapist is trying to find me out patient therapy close by, but the closes place she can find is two hours away. and its three days a week for four hours a day. I just dont have the money to be able to pay that much in gas even if I did have access to a car that much (me and my husband share my care right now) right now they are mostly concerned about my electrolyghts sending me into cadiac arrest. I had an ekg and blood test last week and will be getting the results when I see my therapist in a couple days. my ED is not as bad as it use to be. I use to get up at 5 go to the gym intill 9 when I would work 10 to 12 hrs then go home and eat for the first time about 10,000 calories and then throw up. Now I at least eat two normal meals and keep it down during the day. my husband says I'm doing better that maybe I am to close to it to be able to see that. I should also mention that my doctors are afraid to put me on certain meds for my mood disorder because they can cause weight ggain and they are afraid it would set me back in my ED

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answers from Detroit on

I don't personally have the issues you have, however, my mother in law was diagnosed as bi-polar when my husband was like ten and refuses to take the medication prescribed. The best way to deal with the issues would be to talk to someone who is licensed to work with the issues and don't be afraid of taking medication. I wish you luck! And just because you have these mental illnesses doesn't mean you can't be a great mom!

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answers from New York on

Congratulations! I think that by coming on here and saying all of this makes you a wonderful mommy! By recognizing your issues and saying them out loud - I bet it felt great! Keep doing what you are doing -- recognizing what you can and can't do. And recognizing the moment. Maybe today is a bad mood day, so you get some help. Maybe tomorrow is a great mood day - so you give all of your energy to your son.

As for trying twice as hard - I think everyone has some sort of issue that makes us feel like we have to try harder than everyone else. In your case, your bad days make life more difficult. So push through them and keep moving forward. You seems to be doing a great job so far.

Be sure to use the resources around you. This board is a good start. Be part of mommy groups in your area. Moms are such great support for each other. Keep seeking support. Keep getting help for your issues and do the best you can. That's all your son can ask for. No one is perfect, why should you be? Remember that. And remember that when you feel like it so tough for you - it tough because you are doing so much to give your son the best life possible. That is so rewarding.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I'm sorry I don't have much advice, but I wanted to send you love, support, and prayers. I have suffered from severe depression and cutting myself as well as anorexia when I was younger. I have been able to keep it all under control these past few years, but it has been a struggle. You are not alone. Keep taking care of yourself and your sweet boy! Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Have you considered, going on medication and therapy? My sister has bipolar disorder and has a 11 month old son. She has responded very well to the medication/therapy and is so happy she went on it. I took just a while for her to really feel better, but she has zero regret about the medication or therapy. She has struggled with various eating and substance abuses and disorders. I definitely witnessed her struggles ans saw how painful it was. (obviously, I can't fully understand, because I didn't experience it myself. However, I did see the intense struggle.) Your eating disorder is likely directly connected to your mood disorder. I know you said you can't change for someone else, but changing for yourself will end up changing you for your child...and for the better! Struggling with these disorders does effect how you can deal with your child. (note: I am in NO way saying you're a bad mother. In fact, you sound like a very good mom.I saw how it interfered with my sister's functioning, she was still a very good mom...but not the very best she could be all the time. I totally understand, that it's possible, it doesn't effect your functioning like it did hers.)
My sister had struggled for over a decade and the ONLY effective treatment was medication and therapy. She relapsed time and time again trying to get through it herself. She even told me recently, that the therapy was very important. It was a slow road for her and the therapy was hard and uncomfortable a lot of times, but she is doing so great with no relapse. I encourage you to find a support system of people who understand what your going through and who can encourage and not judge you. Most of all, don't be afraid to get help. It will only make you stronger and a better mom then you already are!! Your child will only be proud to know you overcame such struggles.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Provo on

Sorry, I don't have any mental problems or ED but I fully agree with your statement that you can't change for someone else. You have to change for yourself. I hope someday that your ED will go into remission and have a semi normal life (no life is normal, even with no mental problems)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi S.,

If your son does eventually know all this, he might also think how much you love him to be there for him through all of your struggles. Please know that depression is a form of a mood disorder and, millions (and I did say millions) of us experience some form of a mood disorder at some point in our lives. S., continue taking care of yourself too. S. A. K., Marriage and Family Therapist

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sioux Falls on

I think you should approach the subject just as you would with any other life-altering illness. Always be open with him, and keep it on the level of appropriateness, and understanding capabilitly. Make sure as he gets older he feels confident enough to ask you questions. Maybe, have him see a play therapist, so he has another person to share his feelings with.
Mental illnesses should be treated the same way as other diseases. It is not your fault. You are doing your best, and are open to help. Hold your head high, and don't be ashamed. Accept help when you need it, and always love that little boy! I think appropriate communication is the key to understanding and coping.
God Bless!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

It's really good that you're working on all these thing, it doesn't sound like you're letting anything get in the way of being a great mom. At some point all kids will be embarrassed of their mom for one reason or another, but when your son gets older he will be proud of how strong you were for him throughout everything. If/when he does start asking questions about your behavior, try to be as open & honest with him as you can (for his age). Just keep getting help and don't give up.



answers from Cleveland on

Hi S.,

My mother has had her own experience with mental illness. She always made me feel secure because I knew that she would do anything and everything to keep the illness under control as best she could. She always takes her medication, and sees her doctor immediately if it seems like it's not working as well. She does therapy, she learned some self-hypnosis techniques to help her relax, she makes sure to take walks outside during lunchtime in the winter months to help with the depression, she keeps herself busy with friends when she knows that is best for her. I could go on and on.

She is incredibly self-aware and very open and honest about her issues. She has been a great example to me as a mom because even though she has had problems, she always has dealt with them in the best way she can. There is nothing she won't try to keep it together for herself and her kids. She is very clear with herself that this is a chemical issue and doesn't make her a failure or a bad mom because she can't control it on her own. She also talked to us about it when we were older so that we understood that she might act nutty from time to time, but that she was doing what she needed to do to stay healthy. She also wanted us to know what things felt like because genetically there was a good chance that we could have some problems too. She has been a great example to me in my life of how to deal with a problem - don't beat yourself up about what you can't change, but focus on what YOU can do to deal with it.



answers from Indianapolis on

Might want to pick up a copy of BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING by Joyce Meyer. In addition, how about your husband calling if he's going to be late? Sounds like you need some solid counseling, too.

I'm working with a client right now who got out of an abusive relationship AND stopped all the bulemia behavior because of her daughter. She got help and is now on a VERY good and healthy path for everyone! This means mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.

Other books that might be helpful is RENEWING THE MIND by Casey Treat and HOW TO STOP BEING YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY by Earl Wilson. This second book is out of print but I know you can find it on Amazon. We just finished it in Bible study and I got all of the books off Amazon. Honestly, this is a book EVERY adult should have to read! Some EXCELLENT info/material in these books that have been life changing for many.



answers from Cleveland on

Koodos to you for your openness and dealing with your health and caring for your child! I can't speak from experience, but like any health issue, deal with the situation as it occurs. Go to your doctor, take any prescribed meds, and take care of your family to the best of your ability. Recognize when you need help and assign a family member the task of seeking help for you should you fail to recognize needing it. Not sure if the confused states would respond to medication or not, but if not, could you create a focal point to help with this?

Continue to take care of you so that you stay healthy for your family! Best of luck to you!



answers from Canton on

Would your child be embarrassed if you had diabetes or high blood pressure or cancer? Unfortunately, there is still a misconception that people with mental illness can buck up and get better. Would we expect a diabetic to produce insulin? No, they need medication and so do you, most likely. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed. It sounds to me like you are doing well. Hopefully meds will help with some of your symptoms along with therapy. My mother was bipolar but was never treated. Unfortunately she was misdiagoned with schizophrenia in the 1950s and was not accurately medicated. She passed away a few years ago. Yes, honestly there were a few times I was embarrassed but mostly I loved her more than anyone else in the world. I am sure that is how your son will feel.

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