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

Parenting with Mental Illness, a feature interview series on

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

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

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

Continue reading

Tales From The Other Side: “Trauma Informed Care”

Tales from the Other Side: A guest post series on

Happy Monday. New week, new prospects. Well I live with PTSD so past trauma is always sticking to me, but I am hoping to at least shed some of last week’s crap. I’m starting to feel better from the interview…and I don’t want to say too much because it’s still up in the air, but…my project may be salvaged yet! Not with that same person, don’t worry, I’m not TRYING to screw myself…my relationship is doing much better too…If you guys missed it, because I don’t usually post on Sundays, I started The S/O Challenge, and I’d love to invite any of you who are in long-term, non-abusive partnerships to join me! Basically, when I was feeling kind of distant and annoyed with my husband, I came up with a list of ten reasons why I love him. And it helped! There’s a snazzy badge, and an opportunity to share links in the comments, so check it out!

TODAY I am super excited to share with you the second installment of my guest post series “Tales From the Other Side.” Blogger Sheila O’Donnell writes from the unique perspective of someone who has had the dual experience of being a trauma patient and a trauma professional. She could totally relate to what I wrote last week about what I learned in the psych ward from her own hospitalization (which, I should add, was voluntary) but she wanted to tell us about a different sort of place, a place which she and I agree should be the model for mental health treatment. She worked at a facility where they provided hands-off, trauma-informed care. That is drastically different than the psych wards where I have vacationed; places where they gave little care as to whether or not it was re-triggering to put a woman in the midst of a hostage flashback into restraints. I am honored and excited to share this guest post with you, which describes the good side of the mental health system.

Oh! And one last thing I would like to share before introducing you to Sheila! As I was visiting around the blogscape, I came across a post from a new mental health blogger. It was posted last week, it’s called “Things I Learned In A Mental Health Ward,” and it even uses the same graphic as my post. She takes a different approach to the post model, but I totally agree with everything she wrote as well. When you’re done here, check out My MH Recovery.

And now, Sheila:

Tales From the Other Side #2 Bio pic "Sheila" www.bettysbattleground.comSheila is a mental health blogger and advocate currently based in Vermont. After five years working direct service mental health and three and a half years studying for her Bachelor’s in Social Work, she was admitted to a psychiatric unit for seven days. She has since been diagnosed with PTSD and Bipolar Affective Disorder, and is learning to cope with and manage the symptoms of these conditions. With the future she thought she had now off the table, she’s returned to her old love of writing and is using her story to raise awareness and fight the stigma around mental health diagnoses. When not blogging about the irony that is her life, she is busy being a single mother to an enthusiastic little girl, dabbling in the world of photography, writing poetry, or geeking out to some sci-fi, fantasy, or tabletop games. You can read more about her journey on her blog, Parallel Dichotomy and you can connect with her via Facebook and Twitter.

Trauma Informed Care by Sheila O'Donnell hosted on

Continue reading