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*TRIGGER* How would you feel if you found out another mom... - Page 2

post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoppyMama View Post

If people are behaving in a harmful way around others that's something I would limit for a child that didn't/couldn't understand the illness. My x's stepmother (who I lived with and eventually let children around) is anorexic but she knew she was ill and never said negative things to people about their eating or made comments about her own unless it was in certain company. I went through a stressful time and was very thin (for me) and she expressed concern about my lack of eating.

I have to concur with the bolded part.  I think capacity to understand the illness is key.  I agree with the other posters that self-harm is a coping mechanism and generally the person who self harms is not going to be harming others.  I do think, however, that a person who engages in self-harm or self-destructive behavior is probably not in the best place mentally or emotionally while engaged in the particular behavior.  Not that the child wouldn't be safe, but knowledge of the behavior or witnessing it or its aftermath may be more information than a child is able to handle.

 

Self harm, and even anorexia and other eating disorders arise from a complex mix of depression and the desire to maintain or gain control within one's self.  I would not abandon someone who is going through this.  But understanding the illnesses from personal experience and the immense personal struggle that they are, I would find a way to work within the perimeters of her/his illness while encouraging them to seek help.  I may not consent to stuff like sleepovers while the person is ill, but I would be more than happy to be with them, have the kids play together, and offer all the support I can to help them in their journey to wellness.  People have been there for me in my past, and without them I probably wouldn't have gotten better. 

post #22 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

  Not that the child wouldn't be safe, but knowledge of the behavior or witnessing it or its aftermath may be more information than a child is able to handle.

Of course. Even my own daughter never saw me self-injure, or saw wounds from self-injury (I had scars before she was born). She didn't know about my self-injury until she was pre-teen-ish... 11, 12 maybe? That's when she sort of figured it out.

I can't imagine anyone who self-injures would want a child exposed to it. It's generally pretty private.
post #23 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar View Post


Of course. Even my own daughter never saw me self-injure, or saw wounds from self-injury (I had scars before she was born). She didn't know about my self-injury until she was pre-teen-ish... 11, 12 maybe? That's when she sort of figured it out.
I can't imagine anyone who self-injures would want a child exposed to it. It's generally pretty private.

Totally agree.

 

Sorry, I was on the subway home thinking about this thread.  You know, there's still this huge stigma attached to people with mental illness and it is super depressing for me (no pun intended).  We encourage people with cancer and life-threatening diseases to seek help, but for some reason, mental health is overwhelming relegated to the weird, demonic, people that can't pull themselves up by bootstraps mentality.  It is a subject very close to my heart (mental illness, that is), and when people define it in criminal terms or as a function that "rubs off" on others, I get really upset.  The mind is a product of chemistry and all those bodily things.  To be so dismissed as something other than that really riles me.  We have a long way to go in the mental health realm.  This thread itself shows me that people are still burdened with old (and unfounded) prejudices.  

post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
You know, there's still this huge stigma attached to people with mental illness and it is super depressing for me (no pun intended).  We encourage people with cancer and life-threatening diseases to seek help, but for some reason, mental health is overwhelming relegated to the weird, demonic, people that can't pull themselves up by bootstraps mentality.  It is a subject very close to my heart (mental illness, that is), and when people define it in criminal terms or as a function that "rubs off" on others, I get really upset.  The mind is a product of chemistry and all those bodily things.  To be so dismissed as something other than that really riles me.  We have a long way to go in the mental health realm.  This thread itself shows me that people are still burdened with old (and unfounded) prejudices.  

 

I agree with you to a large extent.  However, many times people are weary for good reasons.  Depending on the disorder, mental illness can cause a huge havoc on families and friends. Unlike some one sick with cancer, certain kind of mentally ill people can really be hard to handle. Bi-polar or schizophrenia can be frightening. Many personality disorders can lead to unhealthy/abusive relationships.  Mentally ill people often lash out at others around them and have a distorted view of the world. They often do not see how their action causes pain because they can not -- not while they are in the throes of it.

 

I grew up with a mentally ill mother. This has given me a lifetime worth of issues to sift through. She was unstable, had poor impulse control, could not reason through her emotions, raged like a maniac when angry.  I spent most of my childhood afraid and weary of her and my teenage years resentful. As an adult, I understand that it was not her fault she was that way... that her issues were a result of the wrong brain soup mix. But lemme tell you, that does not make the issues I have to deal with go away. Not in the least bit!  Mental illness can leave a massive fallout in its wake.  I do not blame people for wanting to walk away from it instead of trying to figure out the underlying issues. I know why they would.  But like you, I still wish they took the time to understand....

post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

 

I agree with you to a large extent.  However, many times people are wary for good reasons.  Depending on the disorder, mental illness can cause a huge havoc on families and friends. Unlike some one sick with cancer, certain kind of mentally ill people can really be hard to handle. Bi-polar or schizophrenia can be frightening. Many personality disorders can lead to unhealthy/abusive relationships.  Mentally ill people often lash out at others around them and have a distorted view of the world. They often do not see how their action causes pain because they can not -- not while they are in the throes of it.

 

I grew up with a mentally ill mother. This has given me a lifetime worth of issues to sift through. She was unstable, had poor impulse control, could not reason through her emotions, raged like a maniac when angry.  I spent most of my childhood afraid and weary of her and my teenage years resentful. As an adult, I understand that it was not her fault she was that way... that her issues were a result of the wrong brain soup mix. But lemme tell you, that does not make the issues I have to deal with go away. Not in the least bit!  Mental illness can leave a massive fallout in its wake.  I do not blame people for wanting to walk away from it instead of trying to figure out the underlying issues. I know why they would.  But like you, I still wish they took the time to understand....

I understand your point of view, I really do.  I understand why people would be wary and not want to deal with it.  However, what's funny in a perverse way is that people with cancer used to be put in institutions.  People couldn't handle it, they couldn't deal with it and even some thought that it was "catching."  We laugh about it now but it was a total misunderstanding of the illness and a lot people died alone, with no support and totally marginalized.  I had multiple relatives who were "sent away" because everyone else was scared for themselves and they didn't know how to handle the issue.  What is interesting is now people understand cancer and do everything in their power to cure/prevent/educate.  Not so much with mental illness.  It is still a stigma in much the same way that cancer used to be.

 

What mentally ill people need is help.  They need support and love by those close to them.  They're not going to get well until people close to them step up to the plate and seek help for them.  Mental illness runs through my family.  I was super resentful of the mentally ill people in my family until I realized that they needed help as well as myself.  They couldn't get the help because no on cared to recognize that this was a health issue and not a "choice."  It needs to be addressed, and avoidance is not the solution, in my opinion.


Edited by CatsCradle - 5/29/12 at 4:45pm
post #26 of 51
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your responses -- both positive & negative.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

Totally agree.

Sorry, I was on the subway home thinking about this thread.  You know, there's still this huge stigma attached to people with mental illness and it is super depressing for me (no pun intended).  We encourage people with cancer and life-threatening diseases to seek help, but for some reason, mental health is overwhelming relegated to the weird, demonic, people that can't pull themselves up by bootstraps mentality.  It is a subject very close to my heart (mental illness, that is), and when people define it in criminal terms or as a function that "rubs off" on others, I get really upset.  The mind is a product of chemistry and all those bodily things.  To be so dismissed as something other than that really riles me.  We have a long way to go in the mental health realm.  This thread itself shows me that people are still burdened with old (and unfounded) prejudices.  

This is really a big part of why I posted this... I've always perceived a huge stigma associated with mental illness that kind of boggles my mind. I don't feel comfortable elaborating right now on my reasons for starting this thread but I guess the responses were very much in line with what I expected...
post #27 of 51

I don't understand self-injury or know much about it, but it would not in any way affect friendship, trust, or letting them be around my kids.  But if I had a friend who wanted to talk to me about it, I would suggest they talk to a counselor, because I would just not know how to help them.
 

post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

Would it affect your friendship? Would it affect how much you'd trust her, or whether you'd trust her with your kids? Would you do anything in reaction to that knowledge? Would it make a difference if you found out directly from her or some other way (another friend told you, or you noticed scars)?

Depends on her personality. I have such friends who i would trust my child in a heartbeat. they are far more responsible with kids around. and some are not mothers. 

 

there is something about character that makes a huge difference. their personality and attitude. integrity.

 

so even if we fight and separate we dont lose the friendship because at the core there is some understanding. 

post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

What mentally ill people need is help.  They need support and love by those close to them.  They're not going to get well until people close to them step up to the plate and seek help for them.  Mental illness runs through my family.  I was super resentful of the mentally ill people in my family until I realized that they needed help as well as myself.  They couldn't get the help because no on cared to recognize that this was a health issue and not a "choice."  It needs to be addressed, and avoidance is not the solution, in my opinion.

 

Choosing to limit the alone time or caregiving time with your children is not "avoidance".  I too grew up with a mother who had some significant mental illness events.  I was her caregiver, more or less, from the time I was 6 until I left the house at 17.  Other people cannot address a person's mental illness if they refuse (for a variety of reasons, not all of them bad) to get treatment.  If someone is actively doing destructive things then it is sensible and NOT PUNITIVE to be cautious with one's children around them.  For both the safety of the children AND the safety of the person in question.  I take huge issue with the implication that it is the responsibility of the family to get the person help;  while I do think it's a good thing to make it as easy as possible for the person in question to get help, ultimately unless it's an extreme situation, nobody can FORCE anyone to get help, and the decision solely rests with the individual in question.

 

I stepped up to the plate and sought help for my mother plenty of times.  She refused it, and so did my dad.  Eventually I learned to address things in my own way.  I have compassion for my mother, but compassion does not mean that her behaviors do not have consequences.  It really sucks, but sometimes we have to make some tough choices, even if they're not "fair."  It's not fair to my mom that I do not allow her to be unsupervised with my kids.  She's done nothing to THEM after all;  however her refusal to acknowledge or seek help for behavior patterns has consequences, whether she's capable of understanding them or not.  Her comfort and her ability to help it have no bearing on my primary duty to keep my children safe from mental, physical, or emotional harm.

post #30 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

 

I agree with you to a large extent.  However, many times people are wary for good reasons.  Depending on the disorder, mental illness can cause a huge havoc on families and friends. Unlike some one sick with cancer, certain kind of mentally ill people can really be hard to handle. Bi-polar or schizophrenia can be frightening. Many personality disorders can lead to unhealthy/abusive relationships.  Mentally ill people often lash out at others around them and have a distorted view of the world. They often do not see how their action causes pain because they can not -- not while they are in the throes of it.

 

I grew up with a mentally ill mother. This has given me a lifetime worth of issues to sift through. She was unstable, had poor impulse control, could not reason through her emotions, raged like a maniac when angry.  I spent most of my childhood afraid and weary of her and my teenage years resentful. As an adult, I understand that it was not her fault she was that way... that her issues were a result of the wrong brain soup mix. But lemme tell you, that does not make the issues I have to deal with go away. Not in the least bit!  Mental illness can leave a massive fallout in its wake.  I do not blame people for wanting to walk away from it instead of trying to figure out the underlying issues. I know why they would.  But like you, I still wish they took the time to understand....

I understand your point of view, I really do.  I understand why people would be wary and not want to deal with it.  However, what's funny in a perverse way is that people with cancer used to be put in institutions.  People couldn't handle it, they couldn't deal with it and even some thought that it was "catching."  We laugh about it now but it was a total misunderstanding of the illness and a lot people died alone, with no support and totally marginalized.  I had multiple relatives who were "sent away" because everyone else was scared for themselves and they didn't know how to handle the issue.  What is interesting is now people understand cancer and do everything in their power to cure/prevent/educate.  Not so much with mental illness.  It is still a stigma in much the same way that cancer used to be.

 

What mentally ill people need is help.  They need support and love by those close to them.  They're not going to get well until people close to them step up to the plate and seek help for them.  Mental illness runs through my family.  I was super resentful of the mentally ill people in my family until I realized that they needed help as well as myself.  They couldn't get the help because no on cared to recognize that this was a health issue and not a "choice."  It needs to be addressed, and avoidance is not the solution, in my opinion.

 

This really depends on the person and the specific mental illness. Sometimes, they need tough love - as in - you made that mess and now you need to clean it up (I'm gearing up for court battle number 3 in less than 3 years with my ex who has several mental illness issues, and whose family just props him up and refuses to see that there is in fact a problem). Getting them help sounds easy, but again depending on the particular illness, if a person isn't willing to get help they won't - and you can't force them. It sucks, and its hard, but you can't fix someone. They have to be willing to help themselves. (My ex is somewhat high functioning - as in he became a lawyer so that he could bully people - it sucks)

post #31 of 51

Right here, in these stories and in my own, we see the different ways mental illness can play out.  It is just an all around difficult situation. In my opinion, where it differs from cancer is in the way it emotionally affects the people around severely and for an extended (lifetime) duration.  My mother was mild enough we were able to live with her disease. But it was severe enough that she emotionally abused me through out my childhood. It was severe enough that I wanted and tried to disappear.  

 

Depending on the seriousness of the illness, it can become really too much to deal with for family.  Family members who are having to deal with their loved ones illness need support as well. The mental and physical strain of dealing with someone that mentally sick can take a huge toll in the health and dynamic of families. And ultimately, in some families, it becomes a question of letting one person go to protect the rest of the members. 

 

As Super Single Mama pointed out, sometimes mentally ill people refuse to seek or accept help. I do not (can not) blame them. They genuinely think they are okay. How can you convince someone that thinks they are okay that they are sick? Unless their disease allows them to have a certain level of introspection, this is really difficult for them to see. And it is not their fault. It is part of the disease. 

 

It is also not the fault of their family either that they do not get help. I currently have another family member who is severely mentally ill.  I have been asked many times why I do not do this or that... That is because I HAVE.  It is maddening that people think we, as a family, have not tried to do everything for this person.  We have tried everything!!! Many families step up to the plate, as CatsCradle put it, but they also periodically step off to survive.  Some illnesses do not go away or get better. It is a question of lifetime maintenance. Very few families can give that without some other outside resource.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

I understand your point of view, I really do.  I understand why people would be wary and not want to deal with it.  However, what's funny in a perverse way is that people with cancer used to be put in institutions.  People couldn't handle it, they couldn't deal with it and even some thought that it was "catching."  We laugh about it now but it was a total misunderstanding of the illness and a lot people died alone, with no support and totally marginalized.  I had multiple relatives who were "sent away" because everyone else was scared for themselves and they didn't know how to handle the issue.  What is interesting is now people understand cancer and do everything in their power to cure/prevent/educate.  Not so much with mental illness.  It is still a stigma in much the same way that cancer used to be.

 

What mentally ill people need is help.  They need support and love by those close to them.  They're not going to get well until people close to them step up to the plate and seek help for them.  Mental illness runs through my family.  I was super resentful of the mentally ill people in my family until I realized that they needed help as well as myself.  They couldn't get the help because no on cared to recognize that this was a health issue and not a "choice."  It needs to be addressed, and avoidance is not the solution, in my opinion.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

 

This really depends on the person and the specific mental illness. Sometimes, they need tough love - as in - you made that mess and now you need to clean it up (I'm gearing up for court battle number 3 in less than 3 years with my ex who has several mental illness issues, and whose family just props him up and refuses to see that there is in fact a problem). Getting them help sounds easy, but again depending on the particular illness, if a person isn't willing to get help they won't - and you can't force them. It sucks, and its hard, but you can't fix someone. They have to be willing to help themselves. (My ex is somewhat high functioning - as in he became a lawyer so that he could bully people - it sucks)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post

 

Choosing to limit the alone time or caregiving time with your children is not "avoidance".  I too grew up with a mother who had some significant mental illness events.  I was her caregiver, more or less, from the time I was 6 until I left the house at 17.  Other people cannot address a person's mental illness if they refuse (for a variety of reasons, not all of them bad) to get treatment.  If someone is actively doing destructive things then it is sensible and NOT PUNITIVE to be cautious with one's children around them.  For both the safety of the children AND the safety of the person in question.  I take huge issue with the implication that it is the responsibility of the family to get the person help;  while I do think it's a good thing to make it as easy as possible for the person in question to get help, ultimately unless it's an extreme situation, nobody can FORCE anyone to get help, and the decision solely rests with the individual in question.

 

I stepped up to the plate and sought help for my mother plenty of times.  She refused it, and so did my dad.  Eventually I learned to address things in my own way.  I have compassion for my mother, but compassion does not mean that her behaviors do not have consequences.  It really sucks, but sometimes we have to make some tough choices, even if they're not "fair."  It's not fair to my mom that I do not allow her to be unsupervised with my kids.  She's done nothing to THEM after all;  however her refusal to acknowledge or seek help for behavior patterns has consequences, whether she's capable of understanding them or not.  Her comfort and her ability to help it have no bearing on my primary duty to keep my children safe from mental, physical, or emotional harm.

post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post

 

Choosing to limit the alone time or caregiving time with your children is not "avoidance".  I too grew up with a mother who had some significant mental illness events.  I was her caregiver, more or less, from the time I was 6 until I left the house at 17.  Other people cannot address a person's mental illness if they refuse (for a variety of reasons, not all of them bad) to get treatment.  If someone is actively doing destructive things then it is sensible and NOT PUNITIVE to be cautious with one's children around them.  For both the safety of the children AND the safety of the person in question.  I take huge issue with the implication that it is the responsibility of the family to get the person help;  while I do think it's a good thing to make it as easy as possible for the person in question to get help, ultimately unless it's an extreme situation, nobody can FORCE anyone to get help, and the decision solely rests with the individual in question.

 

I stepped up to the plate and sought help for my mother plenty of times.  She refused it, and so did my dad.  Eventually I learned to address things in my own way.  I have compassion for my mother, but compassion does not mean that her behaviors do not have consequences.  It really sucks, but sometimes we have to make some tough choices, even if they're not "fair."  It's not fair to my mom that I do not allow her to be unsupervised with my kids.  She's done nothing to THEM after all;  however her refusal to acknowledge or seek help for behavior patterns has consequences, whether she's capable of understanding them or not.  Her comfort and her ability to help it have no bearing on my primary duty to keep my children safe from mental, physical, or emotional harm.

I think I mentioned in my first post in this thread that limiting time with one's children is a good idea.  (sorry to bold that but it is important that people view my opinions in their entirety and not one single post).  My previous reaction was more to the flippant way that people view mental health.  Of course it is hard on the people who are left with the difficulties of dealing with people with mental health issues, and I wasn't suggesting that we all be martyrs for those people.  What I was saying was that these particular people need help.  Society can choose to ignore them and it has for a long time.  Doesn't change the fact that they need help and even if family or close friends can't help them, society itself pays a price when there are untreated ill people walking around.  In the broader sense, if untreated mentally ill people are a danger to themselves and others in society, then it needs to be addressed.  By someone.  

 

I don't mean to harp on this issue and generally I agree with everyone here, but I still am seeing the general sentiment (whether intended or not) that mental illness is somehow a choice.  That it is a behavioral problem that can be corrected through self realization or willpower.  That people don't get well because somehow they are choosing not to get well.  Maybe that is the case in a portion of the mentally ill population...with people that have enough cognitive function to know they are sick but choose to not address it.  My personal experience, though, I couldn't see past my own nose when I was in the throws of some my darkest periods.  I'm personally grateful for the people who stuck with me even when I didn't know where I was or who I was, let alone had the ability to recognize that I needed help.  smile.gif


Edited by CatsCradle - 5/30/12 at 7:49pm
post #33 of 51

I agree that it is terrible how our culture views mentally ill people.  But to me that's a different issue than what I think is good for my child around.  So, if I had a friend that was, for example, cutting, I would be thinking both about how to treat my friend and whether or not it would be okay for that friend to be around my children.  I might also think at some point that its okay or even good for my children to have some experience with dealing with mental illness and/or seeing it, or at least to not be protected from it.  

 

As for the example of cancer and how we of course wouldn't think of not allowing our children around someone with cancer...   hmmmmm....  Maybe I am way off the charts on this one, but I would consider it.  I haven't been in that situation, but I remember very clearly visiting a friend of my mother's in hospice when I was nine, four days before he died and it was not pretty.  My mother did that fairly cavalierly, I think.  It was not someone I knew well, probably had only met him a couple of times.  I don't even think she knew him that well.  Of course, if it had been someone that we were close to, there might have been a different calculation, but I'll tell you, I still think of that guy every single time I get a sore in my mouth  --  that was his first symptom.  I wouldn't say I'm a full blown hypochondriac, but I certainly have my moments and he plays heavily in them.  So anyhow...  this is all to say that I may want to protect my child from someone's illness even if I don't blame them or think they or are any way bad and even if I think it is unfair that they are treated badly.  

post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

What I was saying was that these particular people need help.  Society can choose to ignore them and it has for a long time.  Doesn't change the fact that they need help and even if family or close friends can't help them, society itself pays a price when there are untreated ill people walking around.  In the broader sense, if untreated mentally ill people are a danger to themselves and others in society, then it needs to be addressed.  By someone.  

 yeahthat.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

Of course it is hard on the people who are left with the difficulties of dealing with people with mental health issues, and I wasn't suggesting that we all be martyrs for those people.  

I know you were not.  But hardly anyone understands the heartbreak, the grief, the anger, the resentment, the fear, the total and complete emotional upheaval that is involved in caring for and living with a mentally ill person.  I was just trying to bring that into the picture is all. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
I don't mean to harp on this issue and generally I agree with everyone here, but I still am seeing the general sentiment (whether intended or not) that mental illness is somehow a choice.  That it is a behavioral problem that can be corrected through self realization or willpower.  That people don't get well because somehow they are choosing not to get well.  

This gets to me as well. How can a person who does not (and can not) know that s/he is sick seek help/accept help (especially when it comes in the form drugs that often have undesirable side effects!!!!)? I hate when people blame the sufferer.  However, it also gets to me when people blame their family. Family can only do so much. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
My personal experience, though, I couldn't see past my own nose when I was in the throws of some my darkest periods.  I'm personally grateful for the people who stuck with me even when I didn't know where I was or who I was, let alone had the ability to recognize that I needed help.  smile.gif

 

I am glad you got the help you needed and that you are well. hug2.gif  

 

I kinda of wish we had a private area where we can discuss mental health issues (both our own and loved ones).  The sub forum in MDC is totally open and I do not like that. It has not been very active either.  Hardly anyone posts there. 

 

OP I hope you are okay with the answers you received. 

post #35 of 51

Mental illness is not a choice.  However, I have had to make many choices in my life dealing with the behavior and fallout from somebody else's mental illness.  I understand that it is not the person's "fault" or even within their control;  however, I can only devote a certain amount of time and energy to them at this stage in my life, and given that I pretty much had my childhood taken away because of it, I'm reluctant to devote a whole lot of time and energy to anyone who doesn't actively seek help.  Sorry.  It doesn't mean that I don't understand having a mental illness isn't a choice;  it means that I am owning my own choice for how involved I want to become in order to preserve my own balance and mental health.  If that makes me a meanie or bad person, oh well.  I spent the first 17 years of my life being a good person, and so far as I can tell it was pretty much a waste of my time.  There are certain things I need to see for me to feel safe, and that's just how *I* am.  I'm sure a different person with my same experience probably might feel very differently.

 

This is regard to intimate relationships (I don't mean sexually intimate) though.  For whatever reason, I work very well *professionally* with folks in crisis, probably because I can see past their behaviors and into their humanity, and I'm not reactive.  It's not hard for me to love and connect with the people I have worked with.  But dealing with family is a whole different primal ballgame.  And while I have tons of friends who struggle with depression and disordered eating and things like that (because I am one of them), I would not choose for an intimate friend anyone with similar issues to my mom's.  BTDT and I really can't do that to myself *by choice*.  Probably offensive, but again, I am up front about owning that it is a choice on MY part.
 

post #36 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

 yeahthat.gif
I kinda of wish we had a private area where we can discuss mental health issues (both our own and loved ones).  The sub forum in MDC is totally open and I do not like that. It has not been very active either.  Hardly anyone posts there. 
I agree. The mental health forum is useless as is, and there isn't a safe place on here to discuss things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

OP I hope you are okay with the answers you received. 
Well this is a bit hard to read but I figured that when I first started the thread. Unfortunately it's gotten harder than I expected but that's OK.

I want to clarify something though. I have a lot of experience with mental illness, both first-hand & second-hand, plus it's something I've heavily read & researched personally & formally. There are tons of different forms that mental illness can take. Schizophrenia vs. depression vs. alcoholism vs. bipolar vs. anorexia are all so completely different and then of course each disease displays differently for different individuals. To be honest, when I think of self-injury, I don't even think of mental illness first. While a large portion of people who self-injure also have some form of mental illness, what I first think of with self-injury is trauma. Many people who self-injure do so not because of a deep-lying mental illness or personality disorder, but because it's a way to cope with intense emotional pain or numbness. Someone mentioned up-thread that people who self-injure don't deal with stress well... and that may be true to some extent, and at some point everyday stresses often do become a serious problem, but often it's not the little everyday stresses that aren't dealt with well, but the stresses of trauma, the stresses of repeated flashbacks, body memories, constant numbness, feelings of worthlessness, dissociation, etc. that arise in direct response to having been hurt, shamed, threatened, abused, etc. It's not that you can't handle the stress of a messy house or forgetting your wallet, it's that you can't handle the stress of the reality that you've survived a rape or child abuse or attempted murder or whatever.

This is too huge a topic to neatly respond to in one succinct post... and even harder because this is not a closed forum. I can't say everything I want to here, but I will say just a bit more.

I am surprised that some feel that mental illness is 'contagious'... I do know in high-schoolers there is some evidence of a social aspect to self-injury. I do know some people experiment with eating disorders after witnessing a friend lose so much weight so 'easily'... But I think there is a huge distinction between social cutting, or experimenting with starving/purging, and someone who actually goes on to develop full-blown anorexia, or continues to self-injure... I don't think the latter is contagious, and the former, while potentially dangerous, isn't all that different than the normal drug/sex/etc. experimentation that often goes on in high school. Trying out various behaviors is not the same thing as having a mental illness and having a mental illness isn't usually contagious (I say 'usually' because I'm thinking of cases like mass hysteria, but things like that are generally short-lived, especially if the media doesn't get involved), no more than smoking pot a few times would turn you into a cocaine addict, though yes, it might slightly increase the risk in susceptible individuals.

I also want to reiterate that people who self-injure generally hide it. In some instances someone might flaunt their scars and injuries or actively hurt themselves in front of others, but most people don't -- there might be one or two 'safe' people who know about it but that usually wouldn't be your child!! Most people who cut would never ever dream of doing it in front of anyone, nevermind a child. Most people who self-injure are a danger only to themselves, not others. And many people who self-injure are very, very safe people to have around your child -- like a previous poster said, they may be extra in-tune to keeping children safe because of what happened to them.

Wow it's hard to respond to all this carefully & I doubt I'm really helping much but I am glad that I asked this question because I did need to know how open-minded mamas might respond to the situation I posed. Very helpful to have these answers, even if they are negative, sad, uniformed, or hurtful, and especially good to know that there are others out there who do understand...
post #37 of 51

Well, it would be highly hypocritical of me to judge a mother for self-injuring!

 

I will say that I self-injured for many years as a teenager, before I started seeing DH, and for the informative purpose of this thread, I will go ahead and say why. My childhood best friend, who was also my first boyfriend and the person to which I gave my virginity, committed suicide when I was 14. Self-injuring gave me a way to think about ANYTHING ELSE. I honestly wasn't trying to kill myself (seriously, after being the survivor, I could never do that to my friends and family), or really even hurt myself in a medical way, I just wanted to FEEL pain to clear my head. Often, I would do this just so that I could sleep. To be honest, I find it unlikely that any friend or possibly even my children would "figure this out", because I always cut my hips and upper legs, hidden by all of my clothes. My scars now look like typical stretch marks more than anything. So crunchymommy, I highly agree that when I think of self-injury, I think of TRAUMA.

 

As an aside, I have also struggled with bulimia since approximately that same time. I am now just shy of 23. I am doing significantly better lately, but it's an ongoing battle.

 

I don't think any of that affects my ability to care for children. My kiddos are my world, and just as I keep things from them that are not age appropriate, I don't spill personal issues all over them. Much less would I do that to someone else's child! I am capable of encouraging healthy eating habits in THEM (because I know what they are!) even when I fail to do it myself. Because I don't have any body image issues for my KIDS, kwim? 

 

I don't have many friends that are close enough to know all of this about me, but the ones that do love and trust me just fine with their children. SIL also knows all of this and trusts me with my brand-new niece so she can get a nap! 

 

Bottom line, I don't think someone who struggles with THEMSELVES automatically has problems with everyone (or really anyone) else. I would not be deterred from a friendship for anything mentioned unless I honestly believed the friend was suicidal, and may take their life while caring for my children. I am more likely to confront a friend than most (given losing a friend to suicide, and having self-injured myself) and offer to talk, but I'm not going to base a person's stability on scars. 

post #38 of 51
That was a great post. Thank you for sharing anjsmama.
post #39 of 51

I understand why people hurt themselves, I did this as a teenager when I didn't know how else to deal with the trauma I had experienced, but I have less patience with it when it comes to people my age.  I would honestly have a hard time not looking down on someone who still self mutilates at thirty and have a very hard time respecting them.  I would try to be supportive as much as possible, while also limiting any of my dd's time around the person if it was obvious they are injuring themselves on purpose, but I have a hard time seeing something like this as anything other than a choice to maintain a bad habit (though I would obviously not tell a friend who is struggling that because it would be unsupportive and possibly harmful to their emotional well being).  I would also be very careful to avoid being an enabler.  I was an enabler once before in a very co-dependent friendship and it hurt my family life a lot.  When all is said and done my family does come first and I would be very careful to make sure that continues to be the case.

 

I agree with what has been said about scars.  If you don't see fresh marks then I think you should assume they self-injured as a teen not that they are currently doing it.  Having a tough or traumatic childhood doens't mean you are an emotionally unstable adult, it just means you had some extra things to conquer on your way to emotional stability.

post #40 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I understand why people hurt themselves,
Quote:
I have a hard time seeing something like this as anything other than a choice to maintain a bad habit

See, to me these two statements are contradictory. If you see it as a bad habit, then you really don't understand why I hurt myself, anyway.

A lot of people did some cutting as teens - I know it became sort of trendy at one point, if I can use that term. My kid did it. And I don't want to minimize the feelings teens have when they do it, but I think that's a really different situation from my own.

And I could say that I don't do it anymore, I guess... there have been periods of years when I didn't. For me, though, it feels more like an "in recovery" thing, because I think it's always something I'll have to battle. I've been cutting myself since I was 7 or 8 years old...

I do think parents need to protect their kids. I wouldn't leave my kid with an alcoholic who wasn't in recovery or was newly in recovery, because I wouldn't trust that that person would be able to care for her well. It's not a moral judgment, and I do feel like I know enough about alcoholism to make that decision. Someone who had had years in recovery, even with an occasional relapse? That would be a different situation and assuming the person was otherwise a good caregiver, sure.

I just don't think most people know a lot about cutting and self-injury, and it's scary. I get that. Whether you want to talk about it as mental illness or a response to trauma - PTSD itself *is* a mental illness, after all - it's not something people talk about, and it looks weird and gross and upsetting.

I've never had anyone who knows me well not be comfortable with me caring for their kids, even if they know about my self-injury stuff, so I think part of it is just having time to know someone well enough to get past those initial reactions. This discussion is all hypothetical, and in the real world things often work out differently.
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