Parenting a teenager is tough. But doing it while you battle mental illness is a hundred times harder. I’m not looking for sympathy or pity by making that statement because a lot of others have a tougher time at parenting too. Like the parent that is in a wheelchair, or who battles cancer, there are always challenges and obstacles that we have to overcome just to live, let alone raise decent human beings.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder and Depression. I struggle to manage emotions and maintain a healthy lifestyle in my day to day life. I’m supposed to be setting a good example for my teen to follow, but there are times that I’m simply unable to do it. For example, when dealing with conflict, I become anxious and agitated and I worry about how my teen will herself respond to conflict in her life. I suffer from very low self esteem, while constantly striving to raise hers so she won’t face some of the same pain that I spent years dealing with. Sometimes I even believe that I’m a hypocrite because I don’t always practice what I preach and I can understand why sometimes my teen just doesn’t listen to my guidance.
This is all normal parenting stuff and everyone struggles at some point to cope with a headstrong child, but I wonder If they ever spend their time agonizing over how horrible they are as a parent? Do they lose themselves in overwhelming emotion?
Managing my illness requires a great deal of self care and saying no to things I simply cannot do. And yep, every time I say no, I feel guilt and shame for not loving my child. Intellectually, I think I’m doing a good job as a parent, but mentally I have a hard time believing that. Whenever my teen and I have a conflict, I immediately blame myself for the situation and I worry that she will think that’s how others think. I want her to know the value of compromise and negotiating and to be respectful of others needs but I worry I don’t role model that for her.
Yep, parenting a teen is tough. The only thing any of us can do is love them through their own confusion – mentally ill or not.