It is difficult alone to parent a teen in crisis, but to be a parent with a mental illness or disorder and raising a teen in crisis is much more difficult.
About two years ago I met a mom who shared with me her struggles with her bi-polar daughter who self-harmed. To make matters worse, she herself struggled with physical health issues, a mental illness, deep depression and suicidal thoughts. She was very frank and open about her own problems and knew that she wasn’t able to handle her daughter.
Although she tried to do the right thing in sending her daughter to a family member in hopes that this would help while she figured out her own life, the issues for herself remained the same at home with little changes.
I believe the most heartbreaking point of this story is that help was not there for her daughter or her. Why? Because shame, pride, and denial are often the problems in why parents decline that help. Several years after that conversation, the mother passed away, leaving a daughter just as much in crisis today as she was years ago.
So what do parents do when they are just as much in crisis as their child?
1. Join a support group that meets your specific needs.
2. Seek counsel such as spiritual, medical and psychiatric help immediately so that you can receive the benefits not only for yourself but also your family.
3. Don’t try to fix your child on your own. Leave that to the professionals.
4. Have a plan to find a care person for your teen when you need a break.
5. Do one thing for yourself that you enjoy and look forward to.
6. Remind yourself that no one is perfect or has a perfect life. Therefore, don’t see yourself as a failure.
7. Be pro-active in your health – good nutrition and vitamins and keep away from smoking and drinking so that you will obtain a more healthy mental state. It’s not the cure all, but it may bring more clarity, help you feel more relaxed and less stressed during your teen’s trials.
8. Find a good program through your teen’s counselor that will get them actively involved in a healing way. This will free up time for you to get counsel and help as well.
9. Seek a prayer partner at your church or through a prayer line. This will give you spiritual and emotional support from others who can encourage you.
10. Make small attainable goals for yourself. For example, if you get stressed easily, find at least one thing that will help you be less stressed.
11. Use a mediator (such as your teen’s counselor) to guide you in conflict resolution. Because teens are so volatile when they are in crisis, it is often necessary to have someone mediate for each side. This will bring more unity in the family while you are working on your own life.
12. Pray and read God’s Word. By doing so, you will be more equipped to handle each day as it comes.
Having a mental illness or disorder doesn’t define who you are as a person or parent unless you allow it. In order to rise above your family’s issues which includes you as well, you need to arrange your priorities and needs for yourself.
Keep in mind that besides your teen in crisis and you struggling with your own illness/disorder, there is another part of the family that is hurting too. In most cases there are siblings and spouses. Remember to involve them in counseling so that everyone is working as a team to continue the healing process that was started.
One important reminder, you are not alone in your situation. There are countless parents struggling as well. And God has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. His goal for you and your family is healing too. So open your heart to hear His voice so that He can guide you in your steps.
Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici by FreeDigitalPhotos.com