Parenting With Mental Illness: Mandy (Depression+Anxiety)

Parenting with Mental Illness, a feature interview series on bettysbattleground.com

Hello! Thank you for dropping by this fine day in July! Or if you’re in the part of the world that says things like “fine day in December” (so weird), then thank you for dropping by this cold wretched day in July.

Today’s post features a mama struggling with depression over in The Netherlands. I completely feel for her and understand 100% the burden of being a mom and wife while having to also tend to your depression. Motherhood is often a very lonely job. I mentioned Summer in the paragraph above…Well, Summer used to be, hands down, my favorite season. I fiended for it all through the year, waiting with mounting excitement for the time when it would be warm enough to go out all day, when I could enjoy my favorite physical activity-swimming-and when I could feel happy enough to spend time with my friends.

Now, Summer is just another season to feel even more lonely and stressed. Don’t get me wrong: I love my kids. But without any help over here, I never get to swim. Never. They aren’t in daycare long enough for me to really enjoy anything; especially since I have to spend that time cleaning, shopping, or trying write marketable articles. Any outdoor excursion becomes an event. One which involves arguments over socks, inexplicable screaming fits, a monstrous stroller to haul, heavy bags loaded with diapers and snacks and extra clothes and diaper wipes…you get the picture. Nothing is carefree. Nothing is fun. It’s taking a toll. I can feel a very serious depression creeping up on me, wrapping its hands around my eyes again. I’m not built for a life where nobody cares for me. No help in sight. No end in sight. Just my lonely, burdened existence.

So I understand where Mom Mandy from The Netherlands is coming from. She is a gorgeous woman with a beautiful family, living in a country internationally lauded for its peacefulness. My reasons for saying all this are not to guilt Mandy for her feelings but to point out that Depression and Anxiety are, in fact, illnesses with biological causes. People can have the most enviable-looking lives…people can be in the middle of their favorite season…and still experience Depression. Just as beautiful women with loving families can get cancer or the flu, they can also get Depression and Anxiety. Let’s dive into this interview to see how Mandy experiences and copes with her illness.

Mandy Wijn from the blog Mom Mandy talks about her experiences with Depression and Anxiety on bettysbattleground.com

Parenting with Mental Illness: Mandy Wijn

Depression + Anxiety

Mom Mandy opens up about life as a mom with Depression and Anxiety on bettysbattleground.com

How many kids do you have?
One, a 3 year old boy

What are your diagnoses?
I’m sensitive to depression and anxiety, but have been stable for a while now.

When were you diagnosed?
I started seeking help at 15 years old. I had a proper diagnosis at 19 years old.

How have your illnesses affected your parenting abilities?
I need to take real good care of myself to stay stable. This means open communication and being able to take time for myself. When I’m feeling down I tend to snap quicker. For me this is a clear sign I need to take a step back and take care of myself.

Mom Mandy opens up about her life as a mom with Depression and Anxiety on bettysbattleground.comHow has Mental Illness impacted other aspects of your life?
It has affected my education tremendously. I dropped out in my senior year of college. It has affected jobs as well. When I was younger I struggled to pay therapist bills. The government here (The Netherlands) changes the coverage of medical costs yearly.

Depression has brought very big ups and downs in to my life. When I’m feeling OK, I work hard, like to be social and take good care of myself. But when my ‘dark cloud’ comes hovering over me my energy levels are very low and just going out of the house can be a challenge. This has caused me to fail at school multiple times. I’ve learned to cope with my depressive episodes over the years. It takes time, experience and courage to change the patterns that have been such a big part of your life. Even though they caused you harm and discomfort.

Depression has also affected my work. When I started to work after dropping out just before my thesis, I developed burnouts. I tend to do too much when I feel good, to have it all cascading down when I have darker days.

How has your Depression and Anxiety affected your interpersonal relationships?
Of course this affects the people close to you the most. My husband has helped me grow in talking about how I feel. But he also had to endure my dark days. He has seen me when I was at my worst and hasn’t run away.

What does your support community look like and how do they actively provide support?
My husband is my biggest support. He’s is always there when I need to talk about the stuff that’s bothering me. A shoulder to cry on or arms to be hugged in are also a big comfort.

My BFF is also a person I turn to when I’m feeling down. Talking and doing fun stuff together (even when I don’t feel like it) are the best support. Making happy memories together helps to balance my life.

Is there anything you feel you need to fully heal that you aren’t able to currently access?
I’m still growing and learning. This takes time and patience. I want to feel more confident, improve my social communication skills and take better care of myself.

What does an episode look like for you?
I’m happy and grateful to be able to say that the episodes have more time in between them and are shorter as well. But when they come they affect my life tremendously.
For me these are the changes that occur:

  • I take less care of myself. That starts with not putting on make-up or caring about my outfit.
  • Because a general loss of interest, working out isn’t important to me at that time which causes me to gain weight and feel less fit
  • I don’t put effort into school, work or my blog.
  • Getting out of the house is hard.
  • I detect negative thinking patterns and feel less confident and more stressed out.
  • I take less care of my financial situation. Budgets don’t matter.
  • I don’t like being social, especially chit chat feel useless to me. I seclude myself from friends and family.
  • I get irritated quickly and it costs me a lot of energy to be ‘nice’.
  • Some people annoy me so much that I try to avoid them.
  • I feel like everything doesn’t really matter anymore.

What has been most helpful in managing your Depression and Anxiety?
Behavioural therapy has really helped me understand the negative way I was thinking. I’ve learned to detect my thinking patterns and adjust them. I take comfort in thinking: “what is the worst thing that could happen?’ to give myself a little push when I feel anxious about a situation.

When you feel yourself snapping quicker and need to take a step back, what does that look like?
Usually my husband notices faster than myself that I’m feeling down. I have less patience with my kid and get irritated more quickly. I have less interest in doing fun stuff and I tend to eat more then I need.

If you could instantly dispel one Mental Illness misconception, what would it be?MomMandy opens up about life with depression and anxiety on bettysbattleground.com
That you can’t be a good parent while having a mental illness.

How has blogging played a role in your recovery?
Mental illnesses are still stigmatized in society. I like to share stories about how I dealt with depression to help others. I feel that when I share, people around me open up as well. I found out that a lot of other people have issues concerning their mental health. And reading how others deal with situations can be very inspiring.

Are there any specific links you’d like to share?
There are a few posts I’ve written about my struggles:
6 Ways to help you fight depression
How to find the right therapist to help you fight depression
Meaningful little things that help me stay on track
Listen to your body, it will tell you what you need

Thank you Mandy for taking the time to answer these questions and helping to enlighten the public about the realities of parenting with Depression and Anxiety.

And thank you, reader, for taking the time to learn about an experience different than yours. I hope you’ll read through Mandy’s blog when you’re done here.

Mandy answered a few more questions that I was not able to fit into this post. I’ll be including them in my monthly blog newsletter, however, so if you’d like to learn more about how Mandy’s husband supports her recovery, how Mandy supports herself, and suggestions she has for ways educators and employers can better support community members with mental illnesses, please subscribe to my blog newsletter! You can do that by entering your info here, and yes, I promise I won’t sell it or give it away to spacemen:

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If you are a parent living with PTSD or a mental illness and you’d like to be featured on Betty’s Battleground, please check out this page for more info.

If you’d like to leave a message of support for Mandy, please feel free to do so in the comments.

Finally, it would truly make my day if you could take thirty seconds out of yours to share this on a social platform or two. There are buttons down below, or floating around the side!

Til next time.

28 thoughts on “Parenting With Mental Illness: Mandy (Depression+Anxiety)

  1. I always appreciate reading these stories of moms with mental illness. If more people are brave enough to come forward hopefully others who suffer in silence will feel more comfortable getting help!

    • Thank you Melissa! I am really proud of this series, and the mamas who give such honest and insightful interviews. Papas too, though I haven’t gotten to feature one yet!

  2. I so appreciate those who are willing to share their stories. My mum was diagnosed with depression a couple years ago and the only reason was that she became inexplicably physically ill. She was hospitalised with seizures and the doctors were stumped. After no answers for so long we eventually realised her body was trying so hard to get her attention. As soon as her depression was treated she recovered almost fully. It was the most difficult time my family has been through, but at the same time we’re grateful that her depression was diagnosed because otherwise things would have just gotten worse.

    • Wow Christine. That is such an interesting story. I’ve heard about those types of physical manifestations of depression, but have never experienced it first hand or heard from someone who has. I’m glad that doctors were able to figure out what was wrong with your mom and that she’s doing better. That must have been completely terrifying. If you ever want to write about it and share it here, just email me. It sounds like a really interesting and valuable story.

  3. This is an eye opening post which gives us a look into the life of a mum who has to juggle parenting with her depression. It sure doesn’t sound easy at all and it seems like the depression has a very pervasive effect on her life! I pray that Mandy will find a way out of her cloud of depression permanently!

    • Thank you for your comment Milton. Depression is definitely an overwhelming disorder, although I do think Mandy has come up with some ways to cope. In fact, she’ll be writing for my Healing Words series next month, so I hope you’ll stop by to check it out!

    • Tayler! I’m sorry you’ve had these experiences. It is really, really hard. There’s another interview specifically about PPD if you’re interested in reading about another mama who’s been through it. You can find the Parenting With Mental Illness archive under the “Guest Features” header..and it’s Maria’s interview. You’re also welcome to do one if you’d ever like 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment

    • Yeah this is really true. I have a post talking about this in further detail that I am writing up for tomorrow. I hope you’ll come back on read it!

  4. Anxiety is a big part of my life. For me it is almost a separate person who is very selfish with my time.
    I can relate emotionally to snapping quickly if I don’t get time for myself. It is difficult to not feel like a burden on my loved ones, thankfully I have a great support system. We all need to talk about mental illness to take away the stigma associated. We are not crazy. We are human.

    • Support systems are really important for recovery. And for the whole family. I actually just wrote my latest post on that subject! I’m glad you have one. I really does help mediate the effects of anxiety. <3 If you ever want to write a post about it, please reach out.

  5. Thank you to Mandy for sharing with you. Depression is tough. I have post partum depression. I’m glad she has her husband. Like her, my husband is my biggest support. I’m glad more people are willing to discuss their depression and anxiety. That also helps as well.

    • Thank you for reading and leaving a comment for Mandy, Jessica. My first interviewee in this series, Maria, also has PPD and writes about it regularly on her blog. If you’re not already familiar with imommy.co I definitely recommend it. I always find it helpful to connect with other mothers going through similar experiences. I wish you and your family the best-and if you would ever like to be featured, just let me know 🙂

  6. I am not a mommy yet but my husband and I are carefully planning for it in the near future. I suffer from Depression and General Anxiety disorder and the symptoms listed were all too familiar to me. I’ve learned to cope with a lot of the red flags and also how to manage my depression.

    • Hi Emely. I wish you the best of luck on your parenting journey. It is certainly difficult-with or without a mental health condition-and things like depression and anxiety require a little extra work and “intentional parenting,” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile! I am here for you and I’m sure the other women who have interviewed in the series are also if you ever need someone to ask questions of or just talk to 🙂 <3 <3 Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  7. This is not an easy illness to live with, but I believe you’re doing a great job. You’re taking care of your kids and being the best mom you can be and I think that’s all that really matters.

  8. Reading the interview with Mandy, I couldn’t help but think about the services she receives in the Netherlands that might soon be unavailable to the poor in the US. She has a support system and has learned ways to manage her triggers and I wish that for everyone out there struggling without any support at all.

    • I agree Elizabeth. You are absolutely right…the US may be facing an enormous mental health crisis, worse than it is already experiencing. A congressman just introduced Articles of Impeachment! But let’s see if it goes anywhere..

  9. This is a great post and interview with Mandy about parenting with depression as well as anxiety. It is so important that we listen to our bodies because it does tell us when something is off. Behavioral therapy is how I too deal with my depression and anxiety. Mandy thanks for sharing your experiences so others know they are not alone.

    • Thanks for your comment Rebecca. Yes-we do need to listen to our bodies. I find that difficult sometimes with PTSD, I wonder how it is with depression and anxiety? I don’t know a lot of about Behavioral therapy, unless you mean CBT? Or is this something different?

  10. I commend you for even writing about mental illness, seriously I think that’s awesome. I have had anxiety problems for the last 2 years and I know lots of people deal with mental illness and when you have a mental illness and children, you as a mom kind of get forgotten about and have to realize to take care of yourself first <3

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