Through a child’s eyes. Through a mother’s eyes

I noticed recently a report from The Care Quality Commission and Ofsted on Twitter that recommends to the government that children of parents with a mental health condition should be identified, in other words checked up on. This has got me thinking, as it is an issue that often is on my mind, do parents with a mental health diagnosis affect their children in anyway so that later in life they suffer with similar problems?
Here is the Ofsted report – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/258178.php
I come at this with two pairs of eyes two sets of understanding I am a daughter of a schizophrenic mum and I have two daughters and myself have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
I have to say on first reading this report I was personally outraged, I felt shame , I felt stigmatised I cried I wondered am I a good enough mother? It’s one of my biggest fears it resonates around my head like a vicious whirlpool, I could never hurt my children, but there are others who believe I could ? HOW DARE THEY!!! But do I, are they affected do I need to move away from them? These are all questions I have asked myself, I have doubted myself, am I now a monster because I have a mental health diagnosis? And now you are thinking of coming to judge me, do you know how much shame I already feel without that being added to it, do you ? Stigma stigma stigma, attach it to me why don’t you??
My children are my life, my reason, my everything, I do everything to protect them, I watch them grow up and away into two gorgeous wonderful beings, like butterflies becoming their own person. I feel so much love for them, I always will. They are ok I know, I am so careful as a mother, I know what a bad childhood looks like, I know I have seen and I won’t repeat that. Lessons I have learned. Validate the hell out of my kids. Hug them often.

My childhood, my mum sectioned , taken away, overdosing, shouting, screaming, in bed, I’m frightened, alone, hiding, out of control, rocking heads, strange man, no one to help, no support, would I have been better out of that situation? Should I have had someone check up on my family? What would they have done? Taken me and my brother and sisters into care? Would that have helped? I don’t think so, that is not the answer. Children in care don’t do very well. When you have checked up on me and my family, what is the plan? How are you going to support me if I need it? Or are you just checking to tick a box? How can you possibly help ?

I know that my mum constant absences caused disorganised attachments which led to my fears of abandonment, which cause me to struggle as I do today, could you support people to stay with their parents is that the answer? Or are you just checking for the sake of checking? Box tick , tick box.

I know some children need to be removed but moved from bad to bad maybe, I do not know the answer to this. Maybe it’s what needs thinking about. How best help and protect. It’s hard.

I love this quote from the recommendations

“Adult mental health services and drug and substance misuse services play an important role in child protection. The point of our joint work is not to question the parenting ability of people with mental health problems, many lead perfectly ordinary family lives. ”

Yes I do lead a very ordinary life and just because I have a mental health diagnosis does not give you the right to question me. Don’t judge me by my label but who I am and what I struggle to do everyday, because yes life is hard for me but understand instead, see how much love I have for my children.

So when you come checking on me, I just need you to know, I may need support because you will make me feel so ashamed.

As for my question at the beginning do people with a mental health diagnosis affect their children? I think all parents affect their children to the good or bad and having a mental health diagnosis is not the point it’s how dysfunctional a family is, divorce, screaming in front of your kids, invalidating them and you don’t need a diagnosis to do that.

I wonder if anyone has any ideas, thoughts, solutions.

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About bpdffs

I campaign for better services for people with BPD. I run #BPDchat onTwitter on Sundays at 9pm BST, please join us. I train CMHT staff in BPD awareness and run psycho-educational courses for people with BPD. I am a governor at Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust.

13 responses to “Through a child’s eyes. Through a mother’s eyes”

  1. BettyGudrun (@BettyGudrun) says :

    Really thoughtful blog post, Sue. Personally, I think it would be a physical impossibility to check on all children whose caregiver has a MH diagnosis anyway. But children become damaged for all sorts of reasons. Some children born to parents absolutely DO need to be supported and others, like yours, will be absolutely fine. This is more stigma. But you’ve responded in a way that will hopefully make people stop and think xx

  2. bpdffs says :

    Thanks Betty I just wanted to make people think, it’s not all black and white there are definitely grey areas. I worry about the stigmatising affect of these checks, it’s just another one in the neck for people with a MH DX

  3. twittleyjules says :

    It’s the role of Health Visitors and schools to identify those children who may be at risk or struggling for whatever reason. Having a parent or other family member with MH issues is just one of many reasons I think. Plus there is so much more awareness, treatment and support today than when we were children. Anyway I think that your BPD is as much your strength as your weakness. Just look at what you have achieved. xx

  4. bpdffs says :

    I think having a mother with a MH issue has made me a better mother in
    so many ways, I understand am compassionate and yes I have achieved so muc despite my lack of support

  5. Anon says :

    Well said Sue, we are all individuals and stereotyping just creates more problems.

    My mother has never been diagnosed with a mental health condition, yet inflicted all kinds of abuse, plus neglect, over many years, despite the early involvement of social services and concerns brought up by teachers in the schools I attended. I have been left with enduring mental health problems following the things I went through.

    I brought my own children up as a lone parent with no particular help from the powers that be. In contrast to my own upbringing my children are truly loved and deeply cared about . They are now adults – well adjusted, well educated, independent, fully employed, and in happy, stable relationships with hopes and plans for the future.

    Singling out parents with mental health conditions is not the answer. Of course those parents who need help should get it – but that is relevant to any parent. And it is parenting that is so poor in any way as to be abusive and / or neglectful that shoud be the immediate red flag, not some mental health label viewed by a distant bureaucrat in some impersonal tick box system.

    In my view any presumption that mental health condition = bad parent means that children going through anything like I endured as a child, at the hands of someone mentally healthy, are even more invisible and unlikely to get the help that they need.

    • bpdffs says :

      You put that so eloquently, it is totally stereotyping people with mental health conditions and like you I know I’m a really wonderful mum and my kids are happy and that’s what counts. You are right who will be checking all the other parents and supporting those children who will fall through the net? Thank you for taking time to comment.

  6. Evolving Families says :

    I think the issue is that there should be more services for parents with mental/emotional/psycholgical health difficulties if they want/need them. Parenting is hard and if life is difficult anyway, the added pressures of parenting can often be the thing that tips life from being just about manageable to being extremely difficult to cope with or almost unbearable. Child and adult mental health services are not currently joined up to be able to provide support to the while family/ to identify the person that most needs help to support them. i.e. there are few adult mental health professionals who work with the impact of parenting on mental health and few child professionals who work with the impact of adult mental health on the child or provide services to directly address this issue. There are services out there, very good services, but they are few and far between.

    In my mind SCIE and Ofsted should be asking how we better support parents with mental health difficulties so that they are more supported as parents and the parenting role has least impact on their emotional wellbeing. It should not be the parent who is left worrying about how their mental health may be impacting on their child’s mental health with no obvious support available to address this should they decide they need to seek help.

    • bpdffs says :

      I love the idea about there being more support, that people would feel able to ask for help and maybe just reassurance, because just ticking boxes isn’t the answer that’s for sure.

    • rhoda roberts says :

      absolutely agree. its a cop out to tick boxes without having access to appropriate support for families. shows how superficial mental health services can be and huge issue for mental health care in 21st century..

      • bpdffs says :

        I have had no support ever a child as a mother no direct support either. Sad really in this 21st century as you say 😦

  7. whythispath says :

    Well said. And I feel you. These things go through my head when I have a day I that I wasn’t my functional self. If my kids don’t do their homework for three days in a row while I am down, does that mean I am a bad mom? If dinner was microwave cooked? If my chore chart got dusty again? So many expectations I have for myself, which of my failures would be a problem to someone looking to check off a box?

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