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One Day My Son Will Ask What's Wrong With Mommy. This Will Be My Answer.

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My 6-month-old is perfect; you just have to meet him, and you’ll agree. He is the embodiment of love. He is bashful and friendly. He is smart and hitting his milestones earlier than expected. He is healthy, and he is so happy. It’s rare to catch Jack without a smile across his face. His laugh could warm the coldest of hearts.

I am so lucky because as of right now, I am his world. I was his first kiss, his first hug. I was his first friend. I am the person he can depend on. I am the person who provides for him. We are together all day; we barely ever are away from each other. We are connected at the hip. We are deeply in a love I’ve never experienced. Right now, in Jack’s eyes, I am perfect. And I’m terrified because that won’t last.

Of course I’ll make parenting failures because I am only human. But in addition to knowing I’ll let him down, I know some days I’ll be sick, and I won’t be able to be the mom I want to be with Jack. Some days, my ADHD will distract me from loving him to my fullest, my Lyme disease will weaken me when I play with him. My PTSD will send me in a panic and make me forget, and worst of all, my bipolar disorder will take control. I know I am not perfect. I know my mental illness may win a battle (although, I think I will win the war some day). I’m kind of used to having my mental illness hurt other people; I try to do damage control, and I try to listen to my body to stay away from my loved ones when I lose control. A lot of times I’m forgiven, but I’ve lost a lot of people too. I don’t necessarily blame the people I’ve lost; I don’t know if I could maintain a friendship with myself.

But now I have everything to lose; I have a little human who relies on me. I can really let someone down; I could really do damage. And that terrifies me.
I have thought long and hard about how I will explain this all to my son on days I don’t feel well. I can’t just tell him the medical reasons when he’s so young.

So I’ve decided, instead of isolating myself or trying to over-educate someone who can’t really take all of that information in, I will educate him simply by teaching him mental illness is a sickness. And I think that’s all I’ll tell him at first: I’m sick. Mommy doesn’t feel well. As he gets older I’ll go more into detail: Mommy’s head doesn’t feel good. Do you think you could go for a walk with Mommy? I will teach him about self-soothe and have him involved in my treatment. My hopes in doing this is to break the stigma.

The biggest reason I will be doing this is to prepare him; there is a chance he will have a mental illness. I don’t want him to think there’s no help, that something is terribly wrong with him. I want him to treat his mental health just like he would a cold and seek treatment and keep up with medications. I think by making my mental health something that isn’t a big deal, he’ll know it’s something people normally need to take care of.

Someday he will ask me what’s wrong, and I will tell him I’m sick, that I’m battling something I know I can conquer — especially with him and his love by my side. My son gives me the courage to fight my demons, and I won’t let him down.

Follow this journey on Taylor’s site.

Originally published: March 31, 2016
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