On Motherhood & Mental Illness
"You're a really good mother. Your son is very lucky to have such an attentive mom."
These words were said to me yesterday by a pediatrician. Because I've been sick for most of my son's life, I feel insecure about the mother that I am most of the time so I had a hard time believing that these words were meant for me.
She repeated the compliment after I tried to deflect my good action as mother's intuition because it really wasn't me - that voice that comes in so clear and tells me what to do when it comes to my almost 16-month old.
He's in pain. Something's wrong. Take him to the doctor.
I knew this was more than a cold. I just knew he was in pain. Of course, I knew for 2 days, but as the knowing grew, the louder the voice became.
Ends up he had an ear infection. He was in pain. The voice was right and I was getting the cudos.
I feel my son's pain. It's the strangest thing. Motherhood is one of the most bazaar experiences I've had so far - and I've had some bazaar experiences, my friends.
Sometimes I feel him even when we're far from each other.
I wonder how many of those parent's felt their babies were in trouble in that small Connecticut town and were unable to take the action to prevent them from hurting.
There's some kind of string that holds all of us together who have children. The horror is magnified because we can't help but imagine being in their shoes. I should say, I can't help but imagine the unimaginable pain of losing my child.
On Mental Illness
But I'm not only a mother, I'm a mentally ill mother, which adds a challenge at times like these.
Anyone who would kill a child is insane in my opinion. That's not an action a sane person takes and whenever horror like this happens, the topic of mental illness comes to the forefront.
Most of the mentally ill people we see in the media are untreated and in their disease. It's impossible to document how many of us are fighting back demons on a daily basis and winning, who are working hard to do the right thing and take the right actions for ourselves, our families and our communities.
Living with a mental illness is similar to owning a gun; that's why it's so important for us to get the treatment we need, but that's only part of the puzzle.
"Crazy" people are blamed, guns are blamed, video games are blamed. And I could blame about 20 more things while I'm at it. It helps us make sense of a senseless act. It helps us understand a hatred that cannot be understood. It helps us take back some sense of power in such a powerless situation.
But it's futile. At least for me.
Last month, I spiraled into a 2-day darkness after accidentally seeing a photo of a father who lost his son in the most recent Gaza Strip violence.
When I spiral, I can't be the mother my son needs. I lose my connection with him in that darkness. My love for him is so strong that the fear of losing him makes me lose him.
What matters for me is not losing that connection, that string, I have with my boy. That voice. The one that tells me how to be his mother because God knows I have no clue what I'm doing.
I choose to live in a friendly universe. Yes, I live in the world and I know what's going on, but I don't stay glued to CNN all day. When my heart gets heavy, I pray for the families and then focus on all the love in the world.
Because for every horrible act of violence, there are beautiful acts of love happening all around me. Most of the people in this world are good. For every rotten tomato I've encountered, there has always been an abundance of peaches. It's just easier to focus on the rotten one because they stink.
There is grace in every moment if I pay attention.
And I don't blame God. If there's a hurricane, then sure, blame God, but an act of violence? There's no God in that for me. God's in the outpouring of love and support, but not in misuse of a person's free will.
I don't fight with people who perpetuate the stigma of mental illness because it's futile. I do what I need to do to stay on the road of recovery and out of disease.
And I hug and kiss my baby - my grumpy, sick baby - and try to be the best mom I can be for him. He's why I'm fighting so hard to get well again. He's the reason I get out of bed everyday.
I count my blessings and share my love because I believe that we come from love and return to love.
And. I. Love. You.
(pass it on)