The teenage years are ones most would not want to relive. And that is especially true when you battle an undiagnosed mental health disorder. The stresses of schoolwork, extracurriculars, and home life are more challenging when your brain is not healthy. Constantly telling you lies. Making you feel less than adequate in all areas of life.
Mental health struggles as a mom are difficult especially when being a stepparent to teens.
Parenting stepdaughters is hard. It’s a fine balance between not being their mom and wanting to be supportive when at my house. I constantly question myself.
Worry how they are doing.
If they struggling with body issues.
Wonder if they feel valued in our family and their friend groups.
Question if I’ve been supportive of their passions and understanding of their concerns.
I ask myself these questions and more as I continue to work through my own mental health struggles.
Can I be a good mom and stepmom when I doubt my abilities and have negative voices telling me I’m failing? Facing the reality that teens hear these same voices telling them lies about themselves. Making them question if those voices are telling them the truth. And if so, what should their reaction be? Depression and anxiety come in cycles.
There are late nights talking about how worries overshadow the happy moments in the day. Panic setting in about the upcoming test or game. Holding them while they cry and struggle to breathe as the panic attack comes. Sitting on the living room floor using an ice pack and slime to ground them as the fears continue to overwhelm their brain. I know exactly how they are feeling because I still battle those same worries as an adult.
I use calming strategies as I am driving the kids to school or their activities, so they don’t realize I am being overwhelmed by anxiety. Some days I want to stay in bed and not face the negative thoughts that raced through my mind all night. I wonder if my mental health struggles as a mom will be genetic and passed onto my younger children. I hope they won’t have to feel the pain and uncertainty I did as I grew up trying to keep the smile on my face and my struggles hidden.
Mental health struggles combined with trying to parent strong, healthy, and resilient children can be draining to your physical and emotional health.
But it is something I will continue to do my best at. I am learning to balance my anxiety and depression because now more than ever it is of utmost importance. I am building a strong foundation for our children so they know they will always have a safe place to land when the mountains loom ahead of them.