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A Day In The Life Of An Anxious Parent With Mental Illness

There's a lot of posts about mental illness but not many about mental illness as a parent, I'd like to change that by putting my day as an anxious parent out there on the chopping block! Can you relate?

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There's been a lot of posts about mental illness, anxiety and depression, which, as a Cyclothymia sufferer I think is great. More needs to be done to raise awareness around mental illness in general as there's still a lot of stigma attached to it.

What I have noticed though, is that there aren't many that detail the struggles of a parent suffering depression, this is still taboo, as parents believe they'll be judged for not "appreciating their children enough," or their parenting skills will be called into question.

When I was diagnosed with cyclothymia I was told by my psychiatrist that I was lucky, if the diagnosis had been Bipolar 1 , I would be dealing with social services (a very scary thought). As it is, my husband is incredibly sane and a stable influence while my diagnosis has actually helped me carve out what some may call a successful career.

My husband is a house husband while I bring home the bacon, for many reasons, although my diagnose means that I can't take any second for granted, so this, my friends, is an average day (please don't hate if yours is different!) I have PTSD too for reasons I won't go into here, but that does magnify my fear.

This doesn't detail the very low mood when I'm swimming through treacle or sobbing uncontrollably behind a closed bathroom door, that's for another, more depressing post!


Sunday Woman / Via

My husband wakes me with a coffee, he gets up with the kids as I do the sleepless nights. I can often be found standing over one of the children's beds at 2 am worried that they're not breathing properly. The constant anxiety in my head makes it hard to sleep too, so this extra half an hour is precious.


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After waiting for meds to kick in, (not Bipolar meds, I have something else that requires daily pain relief), I make it to work. I resist the urge to ring both schools to check if the bus made it. I have done this before, usually under the guise of asking some other question. I've managed to break the habit but will check travel reports and news.


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After topping up my coffee and having a quick conversation my husband will disappear to his workshop. Now all the kids are at school he has time to concentrate on starting his business, making bespoke furniture, and yes, I constantly worry that he'll chop a hand off.

He comes in every hour to check on me, to make coffee and to let me know he's in one piece. (The poor guy puts up with a lot).

9.30 until Lunch

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At work I usually thrive. It keeps me grounded. As a marketing director and copywriter I have a lot of responsibility for a lot of businesses and I can actually shut off the outside world and concentrate on the task in hand. My clients are always pleased as I generally throw myself into it and usually do more than is expected as I never take my position for granted (I worry too much about where the next month's rent will be coming from!)


I never stop for lunch when working as that would give me too much time to think and ponder. I need to keep going all the way through. I will answer emails and as a journalist/ editor I will receive hundreds of press releases a day, I tend to avoid those of a negative nature.


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I usually have a meeting, either on video call over Skype or face to face. As a writer I find it much easier to get my words out in written form but I have to be personable, presentable and bubbly. This is usually no problem, in fact I can get a little too excited with human interaction (like a dog) and my ideas flow over while I become a little hyper. That shaking feeling you get when you're so angry you can burst? I get that when I'm excited about an idea, or even just happy, I'm a nightmare. Luckily, clients choose me for my creativity and ideas, so I'm in the right job. They expect a bit of eccentricity and really don't care as long as I get results.


BatMum / Via

When writing, marketing or simply doing my job I'm absolutely fine. I whizz through tasks and my mood stabalises. My blood pressure can rise quite suddenly though, such as if I need to make a complaint about a service or if I have an altercation with a PR company. It takes quite a while for it to return to normal so most of the time I try to avoid it for productivity's sake.


I take the time I missed for lunch now so I can see the children as soon as they're home. They're used to my over protectiveness now and will normally enter the house with a "we're fine and happy mum!"


My husband will go and pick up a child that has had an after school club. I can't relax until they're home as I see a dozen scenarios in my head, slipping on ice (we actually moved to the most southern part of the UK because of my anxiety over driving on ice with kids in the car).


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I've always been honest with my children about my anxiety and they know my triggers better than anyone else. I don't want my fears rubbing off on them and making them scared to enjoy life. This is why I always let them know that my reactions are not the norm, to follow their Dad's reactions for a view on being rational. My youngest has tried to hide a graze from falling over in the playground before now because she didn't want to worry me. It breaks my heart.


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After checking the kids all over and playing for a little bit I will make dinner. During which I worry about everything. I worry about the fat in a pan spitting at the children, I worry about the logs on the fire exploding. If one of the kids tell me they have a headache I worry it's meningitis. I usually text my husband (who will have returned to his workshop) to ask his opinion. His calm demeanour often sorts me out but we have had times when he's said not to worry and our children have ended up in hospital, so this doesn't always work.


I usually go back to work, but instead of retreating to the office, I'll take my phone to the bathroom and spend time running a bath in a peaceful sanctuary. It pleases the kids as they don't think I'm working, they don't like to think of me working too much somehow. The aromatherapy helps while I have a locked door and can start to wind down. This is the time I do social media and answer emails, not write articles.


Part of my work involves managing social media, this can be quite lethal for me. I've only to come across an article about meningitis for me to end up in a spin. I do try and avoid them but then I worry that I won't have the knowledge to avoid it, or recognise the signs. I can lose an hour sorting through the medicine box making sure we've everything we need, while cleansing the house of germs.


BatMum / Via

I try to resist looking at comments on my articles but sometimes I can't help it, especially if a friend mentions something. If my husband is around I'll ask him to read the comments first so I know if I'm going to encounter a troll or not. I can get in quite the heated argument with a troll and lose my temper very easily, like before, it takes a lot for my anxiety to return to a safe level!


Despite being old enough to go without I still use baby monitors, I'm terrified that one of the children become ill during the night, and even now, my anxiety won't let me write my real fears, as I don't want to see it on screen. I'm sure you can imagine.


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We usually make it to bed around now, I get a little OCD making sure everything's turned off and the house is secure. It doesn't always work, I've been known to check multiple times a night.


I won't try to sleep until I'm exhausted, I fear the time lying there allowing thoughts into my head. I'll read a book or surf the web or work while my husband snores alongside me.


Martina Mercer / Via

If I hear a cough, I'll sleep with one of the children and keep an eye on them until the morning. It's my fault that my youngest's bedtime routine isn't fantastic. She rarely sleeps all the way through. Funnily enough, my eldest two always have, but my anxiety means I haven't left her to tantrum as I fear she'll have an asthma attack, so I don't just leave her to get on with it. (My eldest once had an asthma attack during a tantrum and turned blue and lost consciousness, I'm not a total mess, all the fears relate to some event!)


I'll usually get some sleep but at 8am the cycle starts again!

This is a normal day for me, not one where I'm really depressed or have very high levels of anxiety. I still function as a member of society but the worry is real, all the time, and there's little to escape it. I'd love to hear other stories of anxiety too.

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