If you are told your child may have a mental illness, you might fast forward their lives to pictures of other family members (or even yourself) who have struggled with mental illness. Mental illness is common and many of us have been affected ourselves or have affected family. Especially if family members have not received treatment it can be tough to watch them struggle. Maybe they are someone you enjoy spending time with sometimes, but other times you feel let down because they neglect you or hurt your feelings. Having a mental illness that is not treated often means you are not doing things to be good to yourself – and if you’re not being good to yourself, it is hard to cultivate quality relationships with others.
Because of this, being told your child may have a mental illness can cause anxiety because you are predicting their life will be a struggle and that is not something you want for them. It’s understandable that you might worry or be upset. But then take some time to think about it a little more. It’s true that mental illness can run in families, yet every person is unique and it affects each person in a different way. Also, we are learning more and more about treating mental illness. Some of our older family members maybe did not receive enough treatment when they were younger, and we know getting treatment when you are younger helps more.
If you feel this way, remember we are like our family and then we are not like our family. Focus on yourself and your child. Sometimes when we do that, others notice and in time, help themselves as well.
Have you experienced worries your child’s life would be similar to a family member’s who struggles with mental illness? How did you cope with these concerns?