Parenting with Mental Illness: Sheila (CPTSD+Bipolar Affective Disorder)

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

It’s Monday, and today Monday means yesterday was Mother’s Day, and now it’s over.

Is anyone else glad about that?

Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t a bad Mother’s Day…my husband made me fancy-ingredient gourmet waffles and changed (most of) all the diapers; my mom and son came over for Cuban congri and yuca (and pork, for them) that didn’t quite match up to what my Abuelita would have made, but it had the general flavor. So overall it was nice.

Vegan yum on bettysbattleground.com

Some grubber with chubby fingers can’t wait for strawberries

I don’t want to ramble too much on a post that really isn’t about me, but let’s just say that holidays in general give me problems, and holidays in which I am the sole or partial focus give me even greater problems. So externally, it was actually very nice, but interally, I still had a difficult and depressing weekend. I’ll miss the gourmet meals and lack of poop cleaning, but I won’t miss the soul-sucking, vertiginous depression.

Sweet moment with Mama and son on bettysbattleground.com

Happy Mother’s Day <3

Today we continue the celebration of mothers with Sheila from Parallel Dichotomy. You may also remember her as the author of the Trauma Informed Care piece I ran earlier. In that piece she talked about a positive model for trauma treatment. In this one, she gets more personal, discussing what it’s like to parent after trauma.

Sheila has been through a lot of really serious trauma. Trauma can’t be quantified by length of experience-we hear that all the time-but I do think the fact that most of her life has been in an abusive environment plays a factor in the extent of her trauma. She struggles a lot, understandably, but in this interview she also demonstrates a host of coping skills and the ability to talk about her experience in a cogent, intelligent manner. I was able to relate to a lot of her answers (a lot), but something I could not relate to was the level of self-support she has, and most especially, the level of outside support she has.

As a society, we applaud trauma survivors who care for themselves; who pick themselves up and heal and get themselves to the place where they can feel and behave and react appropriately. And that’s a great place to aspire toward…but I think it’s really important to remember that as much personal strength and toil it takes the survivor to get there, and as much as she does deserve accolades when she does and while she tries, it also takes a lot of outside support. There is a huge difference in outcome between trauma survivors who have caring, sustained support, and those of us who don’t.

In this interview we see the struggles of a woman who has experienced much, much more than her fair share of hardship, and who is still learning how to be a mom while caring for herself properly. We also get a glimpse as to how trauma survivors should be supported. Hopefully, reading this will help people understand the importance of support in healing; as well as the need for compassion towards mothers who have experienced trauma.

Meet Sheila on www.bettysbattleground.com

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Parenting With Mental Illness: Maria (PPD)

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

I have been putting together this series behind the curtains for a while now, almost as long as Betty’s Battleground has been live, and I am really excited and honored to launch it today.

“Parenting with Mental Illness” is an interview series featuring parents battling mental illness. Mental illness is an unparalleled struggle even without having children in your care, but when the pressures of being the caretaker for a beautiful young life gets paired with the battles of living with mental illness, the difficulties sometimes feel insurmountable. But they are surmountable. Those of us who live through it prove that everyday. We often live this reality in silence, however, feeling judged and ashamed by our circumstances. This series aims to lift some of stigma surrounding parenting with mental illness. My hope is that those on the outside will gain some compassion and insight toward what we deal with on a daily basis, and that those also living through this will realize it is okay to be who they are, and to seek help. Please remember: Shaming drives people further into the darkness. It is only through radical acceptance that people begin the journey of change.

Before I introduce you to the first brave interviewee, I want to say a few words about my Abuelita. She died one year ago today, at the age of 100. She lived a long and full life, so her death was no tragedy, but I still miss her every day. Sometimes my grief is quiet, like a murmur in the background of my day, and sometimes it wails and brings me to tears at random moments. My Abuelita was a beautiful woman. Born in Chile to a Cuban mother and British father, she traveled across Latin America during her childhood, before finally settling in Cuba, where she would marry the love of her life, an English teacher, and bear her five children. In 1966, amid the turmoil of a new government, she would leave her mansion home with the tadpole-filled pool in the back, and jasmine bushes in the front, to move with her family as refugees into a small studio in New Jersey. She would live in New Jersey the rest of her life, and though she would never regain the comforts she had known in Cuba, she would improve her economic situation enough to be a world traveler through her 80s. She was a vivacious, gentle soul who love to sing, write poetry, and read Agatha Christie. She possessed a rare, youthful beauty which did not diminish with age. She died one century and a handful of months after she was born. Though she had five children, she would be a grandmother to only one-a little girl who she would love unconditionally through all of the child’s various turmoils and disgraces. She would live to hold her eldest great-grandson, and to talk on the phone with her two younger great-granddaughters, all of whom she cherished.

My Abuelita was perhaps the only person who loved me no matter what, and I suspect I will miss her for the rest of my life.

Elizabeth Brico's Abuelita bettysbattleground.com

Stella Blair with one of her daughters, 1916-2016

And now, I present to you another beautiful soul: Maria, who mothers with Postpartum Depression.

Meet Maria: A Mother with PPD on bettysbattleground.com

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