There was a recent study done (September 2014) that looked at the mental health of parents of children with a "special health care need." These parents are those who identified themselves as having a child with a "chronic disease or disability" or "emotional problems." The results of the study were as follows:
Cross-sectional analyses indicated that parents of a child with special care needs reported poorer self-rated mental health, greater depressive symptoms, and more restrictions in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Parents of a child with special health care needs had greater increases in depressive symptoms over time and greater declines in instrumental activities of daily living than parents of typically developing children. Perceived control was a robust predictor of all health outcomes over time.
And I think we need to start talking about this. This is a big deal!
What happens in our home—the stress, the extra needs, the lack of sleep, the limited support—it affects us!
We are more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety and poor mental health. So what are we going to do about it? We will do whatever it takes to care for our kids, will we do whatever it takes to take care of us? Our kids need us!
So friend, pick up the phone and make an appointment to see a counselor. I've been there, and seeing a therapist, even if only a few times, does a lot to my heart. And especially if you feel like you do not have close friends that are willing or able to walk this journey with you, get a counselor! It is so important to have someone to talk to. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Pick up the phone and make an appointment with to your doctor. Get on meds if necessary. I've been there, it is humbling, but it can make such a difference! For a while my anxiety was becoming debilitating and I had to ask for help. There is no shame in battling your own mental health issues, and it is so important to have a clear head as you parent your kids. Friend, YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Talk to friends and family about needing help. Sometimes help comes from the most unexpected places. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Find something that gives you life. Whatever that is, make time for you. You need time for yourself, you really do. Please do not feel guilty about a girl's night out, do not feel guilty if you enjoy time away from your kids, it is OK. Go, have fun. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
And I want you to know I am praying for you; you are not alone, I know what it is like to feel wrecked.
And don't forget that taking care of us is the best thing we can do for our kids.
Your kids need a mama ready to face the world and its challenges, and sometimes Mama needs help to get there. It's OK. You are worth it!
Adapted from Ellen Stumbo's blog at ellenstumbo.com. Ellen is a pastor's wife and she writes about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. She is passionate about sharing the real—sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly—aspects of faith, parenting, special needs and adoption. She has been published in Focus on the Family, LifeWay, MomSense, Not Alone and Mamapedia among others.
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