Living in Limbo – Nicola’s Story – Mental Health Awareness
Hi all, and welcome back to my blog. Today is day 11 of my mental health awareness month. If you missed yesterdays interview with Jenni, get that here. Today we are joined by Nicola, who is talking to me about what it was like for her to see her Mother battling mental health conditions when she was growing up.
I’m 26 and have been a carer for my mum since I was a young child.
What mental health condition does/did your Mother have?
My mum has been diagnosed with a lot of mental health conditions. When I was young it was called manic depression then when I hit teenage years they then said she had bipolar. Now they think it’s actually a personality disorder. We’re a bit in limbo as they seem to change their minds every few years.
That must be really difficult, not to have an exact diagnosis, or for it to change throughout the years. I imagine that would make it harder for you Mum to manage.
When did you first notice that your Mum had a mental health illness?
From a young age I could sense my mum struggled with her emotions. One minute she was extremely happy or manic next second she would be in kitchen breaking her heart. While other parents were confident my mum would feel anxious even walking me to road near school. When she was placed on strong medications she would often have to spend periods in bed a horrible side effect for her.
How did this make you feel as a child?
At times I was scared, not of my mum, she was the most loving mum, but I was scared and anxious because I didn’t know how to help her feel better. As a child I often wondered why she was so sad, was it me? Then angry that she wasn’t getting the help or support she deserved.
That must have been upsetting for you to think you made your mum sad when you were a child. I can understand why you were angry that your Mum hadn’t recieved the correct help. I would have felt the same.
Do you feel like it had an impact on your childhood?
My mum having this condition made me more understanding of others who people classed as “different”. I had to grow up a bit quicker than normal children aswell especially emotionally as I understood she needed my support. At a young age I understood that my mum had to come first and her needs were greater. While some kids were running about carelessly I would be at times sitting with my mum in tears. Times when she didn’t even understand the emotions she was feeling. Although I at no point would change the way my mum is. She is the most loving woman I have ever met and my experiences have helped me grow into the caring individual I am.
Did your Mum receive any help?
For many years my mum was giving tablet after tablet like that would solve all her issues. It wasn’t until she had her worst breakdown and was hospitalised they realised she needed additional help. She was eventually referred to a center and given a psychiatrist. Unfortunately I feel like she has been let down by the system as she is still being passed from pillar to post no further forward with a final diagnosis 20 years later.
What help did you receive as a child?
As a child I received no help. I never told anyone about my mum’s condition scared they would judge my mum, my family and me. Back when I was younger there was no understanding of mental health and you were seen as different even weird which I didn’t want my mum to go through. I also always felt I could do it myself. That I could only give her the best care. I didn’t really trust anyone to look after her either.
What is your main worry or concern about having a parent with a mental health condition?
Everyday is a worry. Is she taking her meditations. Are the signs back that she is about to have another breakdown or the horrible truth is today the day my mum gives up fighting this horrible illness. Is today the day i get the phonecall i always dread. The last is probably the worst worry as I know there has been many times where she nearly has given up the fight. Days when the dreaded words “i feel suicidal” leaves her mouth. Which doesn’t make her a weak person it makes her stronger than anyone I know to know she gets up every morning and continues to fight her demons. Also what impact is the medications having today. There are many side effects. Especially damage to her liver.
What advice would you give parents suffering from a mental health condition that have children?
You are an amazing parent and mental health will not change that. Mental health does not define the person you are and your children will always love you no matter what. Also admit when you need help it doesn’t make you a bad parent or weak. It takes a strong person to admit they need help.
What advice would you give to a child who’s parent has a mental health condition?
Show your parent you’ll always be there to support them no matter what. Even on days they are having a hard time they don’t mean to snap or be touchy. Also don’t be afraid to ask people for help you can’t do it all on your own which I still struggle to admit.
Thank you so much Nicola for taking part in my series. Please show Nicola your support, leave a comment and share your support. Tomorrow’s interview is with Sarah from Arthurwears who is talking to me about suffering with Postnatal depression. Post goes live at 9am!
Much Love 💕