Being the “Best Mom” While Dealing With Mental Illness

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My son made me this small drawing a few weeks ago, right around Mother’s Day. I’ve been keeping it on my desk so that I can enjoy it every day.

But when I see it on my desk, today in particular, I kind of have to cry a little.

Because you see, there are so many days that I feel far from being the “best mom.” There are so many days that I feel this little picture was ill-awarded to me like I really didn’t deserve the title or the sweet hand-drawn picture.

Recently I have found myself really struggling with life’s pressures, our current societal situation, and my own debilitating depression and anxiety issues. I’ve been juggling a lot. Learning to work from home, learning to “homeschool” my kindergartener and 2nd grader, taking care of my house and daily duties, and social distancing from the friends and family I love the most.

I’m missing my routine and stress-relieving trips to Target. I’m suffering from a serious Starbucks’ drink withdrawal (my Keurig just isn’t the same), and I’m full of self-doubt and negative self-talk. My emotions of frustration and anger, sadness and hopelessness, have boiled over more times than I can count lately, resulting in a lot of yelling and crying in front of my kids.

I admit I’ve been extremely hard to deal with over the past couple of months, and I am quite positive that my kids have sometimes blamed themselves for Mommy’s outbursts of screams and tears.

Most recently, I found myself angry because my house was a mess, and school projects were due. Work was stressful, and I was overwhelmed with life itself. I stood at my kitchen sink throwing dishes around as I angrily loaded the dishwasher, yelling at no one in particular, but shouting at the air around me, uttering a few expletives, and crying my eyes out. All while both of my kids hid out in their bedrooms and listened to my emotions come to a head.

once I realized what I was actually doing, and how I may actually be impacting my poor, sweet innocent babies, at the expense of my own mental illness and life struggles, I went to my bedroom and locked myself inside. I didn’t want to expose them to such negativity anymore that day.

My kids are six and eight. They are old enough to mostly take care of themselves during the day, and they are old enough to realize that their mommy is sick. I have explained to them a few times that mommy gets sad and angry sometimes for reasons that she can’t really explain, and that it’s certainly not their fault.

Do they understand?

Do they indeed accept that it’s not their fault, and not shame themselves for being the cause of Mommy’s tears?

I’m not exactly sure. I can only hope that they know that none of my struggles are because of them. I only pray that they realize that I love them more than life itself and that my illness and emotions are not because of something that they did or did not do.

I’m reassured of this by this small picture, by the cards and drawings and kisses and hugs that I constantly receive, all in love, from my two perfect babies. I am reassured that they understand Mommy doesn’t blame them for her illness and that they really do understand my immense love for them.

I’m far from perfect, and sometimes my kids suffer the wrath of my depression and anxiety and frustrations with life. The fact that they witness my emotional turmoil and outbursts of irrational feelings really hurts my heart. It sort of makes me more depressed and makes me hate myself a little. But the fact that my little ones look above all this at me and truly LOVE me, that is what makes living this hard and crazy life with the daily struggles of mental illness ALL WORTH IT.

I have come to realize that God gave me those two babies to SAVE me. To motivate me to push through the depression and anxiety and life’s struggles. To always remind me how beautiful life is, and how much I am really loved and needed. He gave me these little beings to draw me sweet pictures that make me both smile and cry. And, above all, to tell me each and every day that they love me and that I am the “best mom” to them that I can be.

*If you are feeling overwhelmed or not your typical self, please reach out to your doctor. Take care of yourself by sharing your feelings with those around you or by getting professional help.

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Cameron Dixon
Cameron was born and raised in rural Ravenel, just outside of Charleston. Her hardworking family owns a blueberry farm in Ravenel, which helped put her through rigorous nursing school at Clemson University. She has been a registered nurse for 10 years, working almost 8 years fueling her passion for caring for sick babies in the Neonatal Nurseries at MUSC. She recently changed nursing jobs, still exhibiting her passion for the tiniest patients and their moms, but now working as a Nurse Case Manager for high-risk maternity and NICU patients. Cameron is happily married to Andy, her handsome high school sweetheart, and together they have one beautiful daughter and one rambunctious son. They LOVE the outdoors, especially in the Lowcountry, and their favorite hobbies are boating in the picturesque waters around Charleston, riding their ATVs, and camping with their friends. She has five dogs, two of which are dachshunds, which she is obsessed with! Cameron loves living in the Lowcountry - her roots run deep in this land, and she couldn't imagine living anywhere else!

2 COMMENTS

    • Awwww thank you so much for your sweet words… if I can reach one person, then I have done my job as a mom, as a writer, and as a human being! Sending love, Sherry!

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