Having a child with a physical disability would take so much strength as a parent and I admire these moms and dads for all they do. Being the mother of a child with mental or behavioral health issues can be one of the loneliest feelings in the world. We live day to day on little to no sleep. We are mentally exhausted and physically drained.
From behavior in public places you might judge without even realizing to medication side effects you never would have thought about, having a child with special needs is challenging enough in itself but when we see the stares (yes, we see them) and hear the comments (yes, we hear them) there are a few things we may not say to you but we would like you to know.
I asked moms of children with varying mental/behavioral health disorders from bipolar disorder to autism to obsessive compulsive disorder and tourette’s syndrome, “What would you like people to know about your child’s struggles and being the mother of a special needs child?”
These are their responses:
“My son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 14. It was a painful experience that lasted two to three years before he was treated. It hurts badly to watch him struggle still even with meds.”
“My son told me he felt numb and disconnected.”
“He has Tourettes that exploded over the summer and the tics are non stop. The tics are very complex and some are painful.”
“He gets severe migraines, dizzy spells, aches, and pains every where and rarely wants to leave the house. He has been on so many meds but most all had very severe reactions OR he had the opposite effect on the med of what it is designed to do. He still will not sleep alone or even be in a room alone for more than a couple of minutes- anxiety so severe.”
“I hated that meds were our only option but they have made a huge difference. They gave him life back. Helped him feel joy and not anxiety.”
“The tough thing is that with diabetes you test sugar levels and treat with insulin. You know exactly what is off and how to fix it. With mental health issues the treatment for everyone is very individual. What works for one person doesn’t for another. Sometimes it takes years to find the right treatments. Everyone involved gets frustrated, often even the doctors.”
“It’s sad to see my son struggle and not know how to control himself when he is upset.”
“I held my son for hours while he vomited through the night in tears from the pain caused by the medicine that was supposed to help.”
“He stopped enjoying life, and even the things that once made him so happy he got no joy from anymore.”
“Every day is harder than the last.”
“The choice whether to medicate my child or not was not one that I took lightly. It kept me awake many nights wondering if I was doing the right thing. It was heartbreaking.“
“Unfortunately nobody understands.”
“There are no easy answers.”
“I do love my child but it is hard to be strong all the time; sometimes I just need one moment to myself to breakdown and cry. Then I will get up and we will keep going, keep fighting, together.”
We have days filled with pain and heartache, we have to make decisions that are heart wrenching but we love our children with everything we have. Don’t judge them, they are beautiful, amazing, and simply wonderful. It hurts when we see others joke with complete disregard for the feelings of the special needs community, young and old. These struggles are not funny, not amusing, and certainly not anything to be taken lightly or as a joke. Stand up for them, you won’t be standing alone, we will be standing with you.