A Mother’s story about the ‘Guilt’ she feels watching her son, who has battled mental health problems from being a small child. She describes her struggle to support him and the daily questions she faces to herself, ‘Is it my fault my child suffers from mental health? Should I have got help sooner? How did I not recognise there was a problem?’ A Mother’s ‘Guilt’ of not knowing when he appeared ‘difficult’ as a child, and the impact this has had on her life and the life of her family.
My ‘Guilt’ of not knowing.
My son was always difficult to understand, even as a child. But as he grew up, his behaviour and problems got worse, not better. I often ask myself, ‘is it my fault’ my child suffers from mental health. Should I have got help for him sooner? How did I not recognise there was a problem? Was it something we did or didn’t do?
At 22 years of age, my son decided he would leave home and live in Hull. He was thin when he returned, had not eaten, and lived on the street. When he came back ten months later, he looked like he had lived in the third world.
Once back home, my son found work in a garden centre where he met some ladies who ‘befriended’ him. One of the ladies was a psychiatrist, and she recognised my son had a mental illness and needed help. She got him an appointment with a specialist who diagnosed him as Bipolar. He received treatment and began the long story of different diagnoses and treatments.
When he moved away, my ‘Guilt’ stayed.
My son went to live in America with his partner. He suffered a deep dip in his mental health and was diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They could not afford treatment for long, even with us helping them financially.
My son ended up in a suicidal and abusive relationship, and we finally got him back home with us after ten years of being away. His GP then diagnosed the wrong medication for him, which he had taken for over three years.
It took him trying to take his life here with my ‘cancer pain’ drugs to get into the Mental Health care system finally. Living with him is like living on a knife edge. I worry that I haven’t seen him for several hours or he is late getting up. I found him the first time he tried to kill himself, which means you worry because you know he still wants to die.
Sometimes he is challenging to talk to. He snaps my head off when he’s feeling bad or when his head is ‘mashed’, as he calls it. That’s when the guilt creeps in, and I don’t know what to do to best support him.
Talking Treatment ‘stirs things up’!
When he’s okay, he is delightful to be around. But those times are not so frequent at the moment. The Talking Treatment stirs things up but doesn’t always settle them back down again. It took four years to get any benefits for him to have been on the street again without us. We fed and housed him and tried to help him, but nothing we did was right. I allow him to control his spending, as that goes out of the window when he’s having a hard time.
It’s like giving alcoholics drink money. As soon as he gets the money, it’s gone! I get an amount each month where I give him ‘baccy’ money when he wants it. That way, I don’t have to buy it for him! He knows this is part of the illness, and we deal, at his request, the best way we can. I hand out his medication to him in daily doses, which could kill him, so the prescription comes, and I lock it away and measure each of the daily doses out. This is a worry for me when it reaches a time when I’m not there to do it anymore.
My ‘Guilt’ is knowing I need support too.
His sister doesn’t believe he has mental health, so I can’t talk to her about our problems. She answers that he should not live with us, and the professionals should take care of his medications and him!
My daughter thinks he should manage his own money and life without us. She feels that we don’t need to be involved. His sister never sees the days of his panic attacks or when his head is mashed up. She never sees the days when he hides under the blanket at home because life is too much for him.
Life is stressful even without the usual guilt and stresses of family life. The constant nag of coping with a possible volatile reaction or a trigger because of something you have done or said. But you don’t know what those are, so it’s difficult to predict. One day they are right; the next, they cannot do anything they have promised. So, you can’t depend on them at all.
As a mother who loves, you do your best for your children and don’t stop. And all the time, you love your child and want them to be okay, be normal and have a normal life. You don’t want the worry, but there is no break from it. For him, he’s also full of guilt because he knows it affects you and your family life.
I take each day at a time and keep myself busy.
‘I sound depressed’, And perhaps I am, but I get on with life by keeping myself busy. Just keep loving and caring; as a mum, it’s all you can do! I deal with each day as it comes, and I worry about what tomorrow will be like when it gets here. We don’t know what the future holds, for him, or me.
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Visit https://mentalhealth-uk.org/about-us if you would like further information on Mental Health problems. 1 in 4 people in the UK is affected by depression and Mental Health problems every year.