Monday morning and I am up fairly early as I have a busy day today but really wanted to blog and to publish this post before I went out.
I am, as I mentioned yesterday, aware that my mental health might be slipping a little and so I am keen to keep to my routine as much as possible. And I am keen to answer today’s question from my daughter in the “Questions To A Parent With Mental Illness” Challenge…
Well I have to tell you that I am not liking today’s question very much 🙂
Don’t get me wrong honey, it is a good question and one well worth asking. But I think that for any good parent the thought of their child having mental illness instead of them is never a good thought. And nor should it be. Even if you are all grown up now and so very competent and capable.
But, as much as I don’t like the thought, it is a question that you have asked and so it is a question that I will answer.
I think honey, that I would want to ask you so many of the questions that you have asked me – or at least variations of them. They are so insightful and so relevant. And can easily be adapted to make them relevant to a parent-child relationship rather than a child-parent relationship. So yes honey, so many of your questions to me would also be the ones I would want to ask of you.
Additionally, I would, out of my love for you, need to understand your mental illness or at least to try to. When did it start? How did it start? How does it present itself? How does it make you feel? What medication are you on? What therapy or support are you receiving? There are so many questions and I recognize that some of them you may not be able to answer or may not even willing to answer. And honey I would need to be so very careful to recognize my own needs in this and not allow them to ride rough-shot over your needs.
Additionally my initial urge, my initial reaction would be to want to ask you every day, “How are you doing?” But then I am very mindful that this could get tedious for you and might, at times, make you feel as if I didn’t trust you or didn’t think you could cope. Which of course is not the motivation behind or the reason for the question. But trust me, sometimes it can seem like that if someone repeatedly asks you the same thing.
And then there are the deeper, longer things I would want to ask you. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I would want to ask of you…
I would want to ask you to try, with all your might, never to see yourself as ‘damaged’ or ‘worthless’. And yes honey, mental illness – and also the way that some people react to it – can sometimes lead us towards that kind of thinking.
And never to take your diagnoses on as your identity. I cannot even begin to tell you how many folk I have known who have done all they could to live beyond their mental illness until the day they were given a diagnosis. And it is as if from that point on they simply accepted that this is who they were and so seem to live out the label they have been given.
I would want to ask you to do your best to keep communicating with me. And to allow me to try to keep communicating with you. No matter how hard things may get. No matter how dark things may seem. I would so want for us to keep communicating with each other. And so I would also want to ask you to allow me to always communicate with you. I really do believe that this is so important honey. And my experience is that this can be the very lifeline that saves us from ourselves sometimes.
And that brings me to the last and most important thing that I would want to ask you honey…
And that is for you to do your very best – no matter how hard things get or how dark things may seem – to try to always remember and hold on to the fact that you are my daughter and that I love you.
I would want so very much for you to accept my words when I told you that although mental illness can sometimes change how we see ourselves and others, indeed how we are able to experience or accept that we are loved. You truly are and always will be loved.
And honey I would always try to love you as much in the worlds and circumstances that your mental illness may at times present, as I love you outside of those worlds.
I know what mental illness can do – well partly at least – and I know that tragic effect that it can sometimes have on relationships. I also know – first hand – how it can completely corrupt the way we see ourselves and also on the way that we perceive others as seeing us.
But honey the presence of Mental Illness in your life doesn’t and never would stop you from being my daughter, from being my child, and it would never stop me from loving you. Even if it does sometimes make that love harder for you to feel or feel me to express in a way that it reaches you.
One of the things that you have always done honey, and which has always blessed me the most. Is to see me your father and not just the mental illness or even a man with mental illness.
So I would want so much to ask – if you were to have the mental illness instead of me – that you try always to know that I will always see you, my precious child, and not just the mental illness and not just a young woman with mental illness.
So those are the questions that I would ask you honey. But I will also tell you this honey. The question I will always ask our Father in heaven is that this scenario never comes to be and that you never have to face mental illness. And I give thanks that you haven’t had mental illness.
With all my heart.
(For those who are really observant, yes I did start this post by saying it was Monday morning and that I had a really busy day today but really wanted to blog and to publish this post before I went out. And yes it is now Tuesday morning and I am only just now getting to publish this post. Apologies for that. Whilst I had intended to finish and publish this blog post before I went out yesterday morning, other things got in the way.)