Parents, How Do You Do It?

I’m 25 years old, not married (but in a two-year long relationship) and I have no children. I would like to get married one day but I’m not sure about being a mother.

One of my countless worries is my ability to parent with a mental illness. I know people have babies and parent every day with mental health struggles, but I have no idea how it is possible.

There are days when I can’t get out of bed. When I can’t focus on anything but the ruminating thoughts in my head and all I want to do is be alone. How do you care for your children when you can’t care for yourself?

I’m also afraid of my child growing up in this hellish world. I hear horrible stories every day about the evil acts done to children at my work so I can’t not think about the possibility of something traumatizing happening to them. I worry that they could be born with a physical or mental disability or a mental illness like myself.

I would feel so guilty! I imagine that I would never feel that I was good enough and could never give them the life they deserve.

Parents out there who have a mental illness, please comment below and tell me how you do it! What are the struggles? Do your child(ren) also have a mental illness?

I would really love some insight on this.

P.S. I also know that parenting is not for everyone. I don’t know if it’s for me which is why I am asking questions. It’s for science!

51 thoughts on “Parents, How Do You Do It?

  1. Every parent-child relationship is unique in it’s own. There’s no one size fits all here. To be very honest, I don’t think any of us parents who cope with mental illness can answer “how” we do it. Why?? Because we don’t know, ourselves. The strength.. the struggles… the day to day diversity in one family, among all families… coping strategies that work for a family that doesn’t work for another… it’s all an adaptation of individuals so that needs are met for everyone involved.
    That formula is constantly changing; but, the will to do it… usually is a mysterious force that most parents have… I believe… because of the parental instincts. This is solely my thoughts and beliefs.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. I was still dealing with Pure “O” OCD when I had my first child who was born early at 26 weeks and spent 3 months in the NICU, followed by a couple of years of many ups and downs. I don’t know how, but I managed through it. Perhaps it was my maternal instincts that kicked in to full gear holding me together. I haven’t had any major OCD issues since my kid was born, as if my maternal instincts had a long parent-like lecture with my ridiculous OCD brain, laying down the law that there is no more time for OCD shenanigans, kids comes first! I still had to work at my OCD, but it wasn’t as difficult as it used to be, before kids. It really did feel as if my mental disorder was backing down, allowing me room to do my job as a mom, in which I am super grateful for, because it has been one heck of an adventure! Of course, I was afraid to have kids with OCD and I never expected that my kids would be my biggest motivation to overcome my OCD.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have 4 children and 1 angel baby. You just do it. That is the only way I can explain it. It is hard. It is exhausting.It is challenging. But it is so rewarding. It helps to have a very supportive partner that will step in when you are unable to function. Because it happens. And you beat yourself up over it. And you feel guilty. But then they do something cute or funny or out of love and it erases all the pain and doubt you have. I guess what I am saying is, that for me, children are magical. My opinion. I know kids are not for everyone. Mine are 25, 19, 16, and 11. 2 boys 2 girls. I missed a lot of thing when I was first diagnosed. I sadly had an experience with a quack that over medicated me so I spent about a year in bed. No lie. But I got better. And now I am a functioning parent for the most part. The tables have turned, and I am now THE parent that the kids go to when they want or need something.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Having a supportive partner sounds to be essential when having a mental illness. I’m glad that they were there to support you through all of that! Thank you for your words, Iggy!


      • I forgot to add that my oldest has ADHD dx in 2nd grade and my youngest son has ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder, and Depression. I’ve certainly had some challenges, especially since I have my own health issues. I wouldn’t have gotten through without my husband.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I suffer from some depression and it can be challenging. First of all, kids aren’t required for all of us. There are folk content that not having this is the right option for whatever reason.
    Otherwise, you do what you have to do. It can suck and there are days you don’t want to. It brings joy, too. Don’t forget that. There is a unique joy in being a dad.
    The world isn’t really that bad. We are bombarded by slathering reporters trying to outscream one another, but in all honesty it’s as good or better than its ever been.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I forget about the positive side in parenting (and in life too). My mind automatically goes to the negatives and the worries instead of the potential happiness in the future. Thank you, Joe!


  5. I suffer from depression and have for most of my life. I have 3 wonderful children. They are my reason to get out of bed even on my bad days. It’s not easy taking care of them when I struggle some days. But they don’t even notice. On my bad days we have a pajama day with movies and pancakes because I have no desire to do anything else. My bad days are always followed by really good days which is when we go to the park all day or visit the library or go for walks. My children don’t notice when I’m feeling down. They are the happiest smartest children. They are so loving and kind. Being a parent is hard even without mental illness. But it’s so rewarding as well. I became a mom at the age of 20 and am so happy that I did. If you do decide to have kids one day, don’t be scared. It’s going to be hard and there will be struggles, but children don’t care. They are happy to lay around all day if it’s needed or go for outings. They have fun no matter what the activity. I too hope none of my children suffer from mental illness. Each day is a blessing.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I have 2 amazing grown children and 1 bonus 15 year old. As a single mom for 12 years, my priority was to them. I always put myself behind my depression. I am so proud because I have a daughter who just graduated and is a RN and a son in college who made the Dean’s list to major in Physical Therapy. You can do it! I believe in you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It isn’t easy. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of her father, his mother, my sister and my Ma. It has gotten a lot easier because she is 17 and has a car. She is fully self-reliant but my problem lies in my emotional immaturity. She has great coping skills whereas I am in recovery from alcohol and never developed coping skills. I have worked hard to get where I am but some days are a struggle. If she goes through something and doesn’t tell me first I get my feelings hurt. When my feeling are hurt, I become angry and mean. I am bipolar, with anxiety and ocd. My daughter suffers from anxiety, more specifically, performance anxiety. When she were little, my symptoms were not as evident and we stayed active. Once I quit drinking and began to learn of my mental illnesses things took a turn for the worst. We are evening out now but it really is difficult when you have to explain to your child that you can’t do something because of your mental illness. It sucks actually. I knew when I had her that she would be my only child and I am so glad I stuck to that. I don’t believe I have enough love to give another little human.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I resonate wholeheartedly with you and four years into this journey, it’s human snakes and ladders.

    My own head health, forced me to panic every day of the pregnancy, constantly worrying about the health of the baby and the world we were bribing him into. When we finally got him home, I thought I was over the worst. I wasn’t.

    The first year was a huge struggle for me, my own mental state bubbling away, unable to get any support as all my time went into him. I’ve learned that the only way to get through, is to have my own time, continue to seek help and support, and ensure my wife knows when I need time to figure things out/have a little breakdown.

    Now the positives.. he makes me a better human. He challenges me, but he loves me unconditionally and it’s changed me as a human. In fact it’s made me a human being, after years of being something else I didn’t want to face into. Innocently he holds my hand and looks for my guidance in life, but soppy eyes and the most infectious laugh pull my through the darkest of days.

    I wouldn’t change anything. We all help one another, with complete (no matter how difficult) honesty, space, planning and flexibility.

    He’s my best buddy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reading your story feels like what my life would look like in that situation, in a state of constant worry. I appreciate the positive side which is the part I usually forget to look at. Thank you for your perspective, Poet!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I started writing down a couple of positive things each day, focussing on them – even if it was no rain or a decent cup of tea.

        I also cut out the news and social media a little. SM is fake positives and the news is double negative, flash them together for someone with no attention to positives and depression, it’s a fire waiting to happen.

        Just little things like that really help me. Sending you positives vibes for the future


  9. I’m a single parent to a toddler. I have BPD, OCD, severe depression and severe anxiety, among other things. It is not easy, but I live for my child. Psychiatrists, therapists and doctors have found it an unhealthy thing for me to say, but before my daughter was born I didn’t have a reason to get out of bed or get dressed. I didn’t have a reason to try to get better. I thought it was impossible. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant when I did, I wouldn’t be alive right now. I am going through a difficult period and I am so far from ‘recovery’, but being a parent forces me to plough on.
    I do everything for my daughter and I am the best parent that I can be because I HAVE to. There’s nobody else to take over. I want her to have the best childhood possible knowing that she is so fucking loved. I don’t let her see my mental illnesses; she’s far too young and I want to protect her from it. Many people have the misconception that mentally ill parents are usually neglectful and parent ‘badly’. Not true. I am the centre of her world and she is the centre of mine and there is nothing more pure or encouraging in the world.
    On the days that I used to spend rejecting the outside world and holed up in the dark with no hope, planning my death, I now spend still feeling the pain (it’s unavoidable, bad days happen) but without a doubt my daughter makes me smile at least a dozen times in an otherwise completely bleak day. It’s magical. I hope that some of this has made sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that your daughter gave you a purpose and that you are still alive today! Your story makes sense and really helps me understand what it is like to parent with mental illness. Thank you for your perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have two step children when I was expecting a child free life. It can be very hard to balance your own mental health and their needs. When I am feeling down, I try and see myself through their eyes. Strong. Sturdy. Able to do anything. It also helps me remember at times that I need to get out of my own head and focus on other things. Distraction, routine, keeping occupied has always been very helpful to me in managing my mental health.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sure that was a huge change for you to go from zero to two little ones in your life. Getting out of one’s head is sometimes the best thing even though it can be the most difficult. Thank you for your perspective, Stacey!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This post saddened me. The decision to have a child is always a big and important decision. But so is the decision not to have a child. It is hard for anybody to say what someone else’s experience of parenthood will be. You could be the healthiest person in the world but suffer from mental health issues after the birth of a child; or you could find that previous issues improve. With a new baby you are often too busy to consider your own health needs, but that can be a good or a bad thing. And as some of the other commentators have said a child is a joy as well as a challenge.

    As for the hellish world we live in – as Joe has commented – this is largely manufactured by hysterical media. Yes we live in a complex world with multiple problems and yes there is suffering. My own parents survived the second world war and the holocaust but still went on to have a family perhaps because they believed in the power of a new generation, or perhaps just because that is what humans are genetically programmed to do.


    • It is an important and big decision, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to reach out to this community. People on here are so understanding and caring, I love it. Yeah I guess you never know what you’re getting into until you get there.

      Ehh, I think the world is still a hell hole. I work for a non-profit that has services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims. So hearing stories about children who are beaten until they’re brain dead and sexually abused before they’re even in kindergarten makes it difficult to say this is a great world to be in.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I am Bipolar 1 and have been married for almost 25 years -to the same woman. We have four daughters. There is something magical about kids that supersedes my illness for the most part. Somehow knowing that they need you to survive outweighs my worst episodes. My 14 year-old is also bipolar and we have grown even closer through her journey of understanding. I wouldn’t take a minute of it back. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Life changes, your mindset changes. You have someone now that loves you, depends on you and you are his only world, so they become your entire world. You do whatever it is for them. You get through it. ❤️💚💙💛 Sending lots of love!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Currently a stay at home Dad with a 22month old. I have moderate to servers anxiety. The simple things to me are a nightmare. I use techniques to push through it and my little man also drives me to overcome fears but it’s a daily struggle. Honestly but I wouldn’t change a thing. He has made me think a lot differently about so many things.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The good news is that we are all saying the same things – our kids become our reasons for getting better. I left an abusive marriage to save my girls. I moved to Seattle to give my girls a better chance at a better life – where I have more support so we’re not alone.

    Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s hard. There are days when the best I can do is popcorn and ice cream and they LOVE those nights. They do notice when I’m down but I’m learning to be more honest with them about it and more open which helps me get better faster. My teenager has mental illnesses and her journey has been along my path in many ways. I understand her like no one else so she is making progress towards a better future. The fact that we get to help her at 16 instead of waiting until I’m 50 with soo many years of baggage is a blessing to me.

    Have kids because you WANT to have kids! Because you want to see a child grow and help them become real people in the real world and maybe help it become a better world. DON’T do it because you think you *should*. I was severely neglected by both my parents because I was simply what you were supposed to do. Talk to your doctor too. I don’t think you can be on anti-depressants while you’re pregnant – I’m not sure. Maybe adoption is an option for you?

    Maybe start a new blog about parenting with mental illness – sounds like there’s an audience waiting to help!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes! It is actually quite encouraging reading that their children have help so many parents. I bet your daughter appreciates your relationship so much! Hmmm yeah I have no idea what you can and can’t do while pregnant. If I ever do have a kid I will definitely be making a blog about it! Thank you so much for your perspective, Karen!!


  16. I am a 43 year old woman with chronic depression and anxiety. I chose not to have kids for a lot of reasons, not just my mental illness. When it came down to it, I didn’t want to have kids. That is it’s own hardship because I am judged by a lot of people.

    I grew up with parents and extended family with mental illness and I definitely knew what was going on. But how that awareness plays out depends a lot on how the parent handles it, as well as the personality of the kid.

    I know parents with mental illness. For some having kids helped give them focus. For others it exacerbated their issues or brought out new aspects.

    Only you know what you want and what you are willing to commit to handling. Sometimes you just have to trust and take a leap. You will probably have regrets and happy memories either way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe it that people can be judgmental for not wanting to have kids, even just saying that I might not want to makes people give me strange looks. Hopefully as time goes on it will become more normalized to not have kids. There is nothing wrong with being your own person! Thank you for your perspective, Lori!


  17. It’s not easy, to be honest. I have the privilege of being of being able to get consistent and excellent treatment which helps. I also have a supportive husband that takes the load off of me. Right now my children are young so I am hoping that I won’t screw them up being a bipolar mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. i get really bad mood swings. i can be very happy and the next minute am soo upset, and i start wondering what life is all about. i dnt know if i have any sort of disorder or if this is normal. how do i tell that i have a disorder?


    • Great question! I would speak to your doctor about it since they have a wealth of knowledge about mental illnesses. They ca hopefully diagnose you if there is something to diagnose and help you treat it. I hope this helps, Lilian Frankie!


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