Grab some quavers, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or gin, whichever you prefer) and take a seat because this is going to be a long one.
I have no children, so I’m not going to sit here and pretend to understand what its like to be a parent who:
A) Has a mental health condition themselves.
B) Has a child with a mental health condition.
For this blog post, I thought I would let a friend do the talking. Thought I would give you a break from me waffling on about myself. So, without further ado, I would like to hand you over to a really good friend of mine, a fantastic mother and a magnificent fighter… Talla Jewell.
“My name is Talla, I’m 22 years old, I have a five year old son and I suffer from ‘Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder’.
“I never used to be open about my mental health as much as I am now, and I feel that’s down to the fact that I’m now a mother. I’m meant to be a role model for my little boy and what sort of role model would I be if I wasn’t open about these sorts of things? I’m open because I suffer differently, daily. One day I could be so happy, and the next tearful or angry. That has to be so confusing for a child. Believe me I feel so guilty about it. That’s why I’m so open. So he doesn’t feel like he’s to blame and that some days, Mummy just isn’t happy. Which is okay. What person ever is? I want to teach my son that you are allowed to be open about feelings. I haven’t gone into depth about what form of mental health I suffer, as he’s only 5 and wouldn’t understand properly. But he knows I take medication and he knows I get sad. He knows if I’m angry, I need to step outside for 5 minutes to calm myself down, which he allows me to do otherwise I get too overwhelmed.”
“When I cry, he cuddles me and comforts me and says “it’s okay Mummy, I will look after you”. Sometimes, when schools are on holidays and I’m still tired because I didn’t sleep well, he will give me a blanket and let me sleep in a little because he knows I need it. He will either play on the iPad or with his toys. I feel guilty doing this, but I can’t help the way I feel that day. He doesn’t moan, and has never moaned once about it. He has a little saying “when you’re poorly, I look after you. When I’m poorly, you look after me. When we’re both poorly, we look after each other”.”
“As he grows older, I will teach him myself more about mental health. Mental health isn’t taught in my sons school. In fact, I’m not sure it’s taught in any school. It wasn’t in my primary, nor my secondary. I strongly believe it should be. Not just to the children, but training for the teachers also. It can help students speak up about how they’re feeling. It can teach them how to react towards those around them who suffer. It can also help the teachers to help students they feel need some extra guidance. But not only that, it can help children with parents who suffer mental health and how they could help their parents, or how to get their parents to speak up about feelings. I’ve suffered mental health for as long as I could remember. Perhaps 14 onwards I think I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My school weren’t helpful, they would just pester my parents as to why I wasn’t in school. My friends were useless when it came to me feeling low because they didn’t know what to do or how to help me. I believe that children from reception (4-5 years) should be the earliest it’s spoken about.”
– (Childrens Society, 2008)
“My son is 5, and he’s been caring and loving more so since around 3 years old, and it was only last year that I had to tell him that I was sad more, because my father passed away. It triggered me a lot, as I had some old feelings inside that I didn’t know how to get out which would set me into episodes. I strongly believe there should be a class, once a week to at least start talking about feelings. Ask children what makes them sad. Ask children what makes them happy. Ask children what makes them angry. Explain to children that whatever emotion they feel, is definitely okay. That if they are feeling happy, or sad, ask them to tell their parents why they feel that way. My son tells me he’s happy because he’s colouring. That makes me happy! My son tells me he’s sad because he’s tired. That’s okay! Give us a cuddle and we’ll have a good sleep tonight. My son tells me he’s angry because he can’t find a puzzle piece. That’s okay, we can look together. It’s so easy to speak to children so young because they’re more open at that age. It’s only as they grow up, they hide more.”
A final message from Talla:
“Whether you are a parent or not.. please speak up! If something isn’t quite right, don’t hide it. I did for so long, and it almost costed me my life. Don’t hide things from your family, from your children, from your colleagues. Because it might help someone else speak up too. I’ve found since speaking about how I’m feeling and my EUPD, that a lot more people have come forward telling me how they’re feeling. I’ve talked someone out of suicide by staying up and listening until 4am, when they realised they had a lot to live for and needed to sleep off how they are feeling. No one had listened before. These feelings are temporary and there’s a lot of solutions out there, if you just speak up and get the help that’s offered. Find a safe person who you can tell anything and everything to. Tell someone your safe place, that if you need space, that’s where you will be. Do. Not. Hide. Your, Feelings. It’s okay to not be okay.”
You know what, guys? I think I’m just going to leave it here.
Thank you all for reading and please leave a comment below.
All my love,