May is Mental Health Month. At the PAMI (Parenting Awareness Month Indiana) event held by IPI (Indiana Parenting Institute), Amy Brinkley, Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Gary, IN, shared the story of a woman she just met last week. The woman agreed to write out her story about having a mental illness and becoming a mom.
The woman got out of an abusive relationship when she was 23 and was diagnosed with Situational Depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). She wondered, “Was I, a person with a mental illness, still able to be a mother and have an impact on the next generation of human beings?”
Counselors told her that once she “got over” the abuse, everything would “be back to normal.” She didn’t believe anyone ever “gets over” abuse. She is still diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and PSTD.
She married a man who is also Bipolar and they decided to adopt as they are in their 40’s. The State of Indiana required them to have a case worker and provide backup documentation showing they were “no risk.” However, they ended up fostering children instead, and have had over 30 kids in their home. Most had special needs. She said, “My mental illness does not define me, and I teach my kids not to let their illness define them.”
“My kids learn that medication and therapy don’t define them, but it can help them deal with what is going on in their lives.”
She feels that God has called her “into this unusual role of motherhood.”
“I just have to care for my mental health so that I can help my kids care for theirs.”