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Coping With Mental Illness as a Parent

By Rachel Shouse

Parenting alone takes most of our time and energy. Our worlds revolve around our kids, especially when they're little. No parent wants to admit that, but it's true. You can't go to the store and just leave your children. You can't just go out for a night on the town when you have a toddler at home. What happens if mental illness gets tossed in? Parents who struggle with any sort of mental illness have a lot of questions and concerns, rightfully so. Let's talk about it.

Use Realistic Thinking to Calm Down

Anxiety can rear its ugly head really fast. Some are able to feel and recognize the build up. Either way, in moments like that, try to control your thought patterns. When a fear pops up, use reality to combat it.

If you're worried about your kids, feel like you're failing, and/or feel like you're a burden, it's time for a reality check. Look at your kids. Are they healthy, happy, loved, and clothed? These are normal worries for parents, but anxiety and panic attacks make mountains out of these mole hills. Any small fear explodes and can become paralyzing to some.

Be Honest and Ask for Support

Your kids may not understand why mom or dad is acting differently. Kids are observant, but answering any questions they may have will help decrease their worries. Be honest about how you're feeling and don't hide every time you get upset. 

While you're being open with your family, talk to them about how they can help. Kids love helping and they're generally compassionate and sympathetic. Little ones love helping mom and dad. They may not be able to fold the laundry, but they can get their own snacks, put their own dishes in the dishwasher, etc. 

Make Breaks a Habit

You aren't going to damage your kids by having them play in their rooms while you take a break. Everyone has to learn how to function and enjoy life on their own. Your child won't benefit if all they know is codependency. 

That being said, take breaks. Regardless of your diagnosis, your brain will benefit from the calm. There are times to work. If you have a productive day, that's really great. Don't let the momentum stop you from getting some quiet time. It will catch up with you. 

Brain chemistry is interesting to me. Your brain has things called neurotransmitters. Those transmitters both send and take in different natural chemicals. When you're under a lot of stress, your brain is going to fire off chemicals faster than the receptors can absorb them. Your brain chemistry is begging you to take a break at that point. Avoiding this extreme situation will help you have an even mood throughout your day, so sit down.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Azusa, Calif.

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