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  • Writer's pictureNicole Sivers

Child Abuse Awareness Month; Child Abuse or Mental Illness?

Weird question, right? How could the two possibly have enough similarities to get them confused? If a parent is experiencing any issues with their mental health they would just get help and there's no way it could ever get so bad. So bad that they might get mixed up with the wrong crowd. A good parent would never let their emotions affect their parenting. They would protect their child/ren from seeing them like they are a weakness...

If you think this way you might want to stop reading here because I am about to get real here and a little personal for a minute.

NO! Just no.

We might not really think one could be the other but, I am here to tell you, they can. A parent can get so wrapped up in their illness that it seeps out and into their child/ren. To say a good parent wouldn't let this happen is completely bogus. I am a damn good mother and am guilty of this. I have friends/family that are awesome parents and still guilty of this. It's not always as simple as "getting help." we can't always recognize or accept that we need it, Or, we do and there seems to be someone or thing always pushing back against our recovery. when this happens, whatever is stopping us is also stopping us from even addressing it's an issue sometimes.

Without going into too much detail, I'll provide a little background. In April, 2009 I entered a toxic relationship on false pretenses. By the time there was no denying it, we were pregnant with our first (my second) and my mom was sick. Two more children and seven years passed by before getting out of it. By the time I did, I had already been manipulated, abused, and (to an extent) driven mad. Add that to being sole caretaker of four children and a home, yes. My illnesses (before and after they were addressed) got the best of me. They had a pretty significant impact on myself as a parent.

From an outsider, I probably did (and still do) look like a bad parent at some point... Anxiety and panic attacks can keep parents from doing things they normally would do. In the moment, it is not uncommon to not be able to even handle sound or touch, let alone give attention or fulfill other needs. In reference to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Children are not always capable of understanding the idea behind triggers for their parent.

While a child's wellbeing and happiness is of the utmost importance, don't be too quick to assume the worst when you see a piece of something. Sometimes it really is just a struggling parent trying not to crack. Sometimes it is just bad timing. Be kind to others as we never truly know what someone else is going through.

If this might be you or someone you love, there is nonjudgmental support out there. There is anonymity. You are not a bad parent and you are not alone. I am here. REACH OUT!

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