The Mighty Logo

17 Mothers With Mental Illness Share What Mother's Day Means to Them

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

This Mother’s Day, we want to give some recognition to the moms who are not only rocking motherhood — but rocking it while living with and managing a mental illness. To celebrate all you do, we asked mothers in our mental health community to send us a photo of them in action, and share a few words about what being a mother means to them:

Here’s to you, moms:

1. “I was diagnosed with PTSD as the result of my son’s life-threatening liver disease. But that doesn’t stop me from always being there for him. To me, that is what being a mother is all about. Being there. Showing up even when it’s hard. Always being a rock for him. Because that is exactly what my mother did and still does for me. And I hope I can pass that strength along to my son.” — Amber Fosler

mother and child
submitted by Amber Fosler

2. “My son is the most amazing person in my life. He’s the light of my life and keeps me smiling. When I get really anxious he can tell and he’ll come cuddle with me until I calm down.” — Caitlin Muehleib

Woman sitting on back of a truck with her child.
submitted by Caitlin Muehleib

3. “Being a mother is all about love and sacrifice. It’s not materialistic things I care about, but sleep, time, my own physical and mental health, and whatever it takes to make sure my children are happy and healthy. And I do it every day, without complaint, because their happiness and well-being are far more important than anything else!” — Serena Burks

mother and child
submitted by Serena Burks

4. “These are three of my five children, and it’s a joy and a struggle at the same time to raise them. But it’s a joyful, stressful struggle I wouldn’t change.” — Tory Boldra

Woman and children.
submitted by Tory Boldra

5. “Being a mother means being there for every single step and every fall. It means loving your little human with all of your heart and showing that love to your child. Being a mother means putting down your pain and picking up your child into a warm, happy embrace. To me, being a mother means letting my daughter heal my heart and filling it with unconditional love for her.” — Madelyn Heslet

Mother and her child
submitted by Madelyn Heslet

6. “I’m diagnosed with major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. I get so easily overwhelmed, and my mood swings can be so hard to manage, but I’ve learned through therapy that sometimes giving myself a parental time-out to stop and breathe (I sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in my head three times!), and making sure I take my meds and take care of myself, is the best thing I can do for my son. I will not let my mental illness define me as a parent!” — Andria Wilson

mom and her child
submitted by Andria Wilson.

7. “I have raised four wonderful children. I have bipolar, anxiety and PTSD. It has been a struggle as two of my children have depression. We are honest always with each other and they understand my down days.” — Julie Brown

mom and her three children.
submitted by Julie Brown

8. “I suffer from depression, PTSD and anxiety, but I struggle every day to overcome these things and raise my daughter by myself (solo mother). She is my everything and I have worked my butt off to make sure she is loved, cared for and provided for.” — Catherine Brougham

Mother and her child
submitted by Catherine Brougham

9. “It’s not about me anymore. I have social and general anxiety. I need to look after myself to be the best Mum I can be to Beth, who’s 2. This could mean medication, therapy, self-care or just being honest about how I’m really feeling rather than passing it off as ‘OK.’ She is my motivation and my joy.” — Helen Louise Gray

Mother and her child.
Submitted by Helen Louise Gray

10. “Mothering through depression and anxiety means making it through the darkness so I can see the light in their eyes.” — Stefanie Cohen

Mother, father and their three children in a car.
Submitted by Stefanie Cohen

11. “Mothering through bipolar I disorder, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and depression means looking to my children, who give me unconditional love, truly helping me see the light through the darkness. — Jessica Robertson

Mother and her three children at the beach.
submitted by Jessica Robertson

12. “Being a mother through my mental disorders means even on the days I feel like completely giving up, I put up the fight. There will always be more battles that I will forever have to face, but [my children] will always be my armor in which I fight my battles with!” — Brittani Phillips

Mother and her two children in the woods.
submitted by Brittani Phillips.

13. “Mothering while dealing with depression, anxiety and PTSD means riding out the bad days, so I can grab the good days with both hands and savor every moment.” — Deanna Wilson Smith

Mother and two children.
submitted by Deanna Wilson Smith

14. “Being a mom has given my life meaning and a purpose. Before having my kids, my life was heading in the wrong direction. When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I grew up and knew that being a mom was the only thing that mattered. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety most of my life, and having my children helps me to push myself each day to be happier, healthier me.” — Kristen Rinker

Family at church.
Submitted by Kristen Rinker

15. “Being a mom was something I never planned. I never wanted to have children. It just didn’t fit with the perception I had of myself. I now know that was because I believed the lies my, then undiagnosed, depression and anxiety wanted me to believe. My pregnancy was not planned. It took a long time for me to accept I was in fact going to be a mother. My son was born almost six months ago. In those few months, being a mom has become the best thing that could have happened to me. If it were not for him, I know that I wouldn’t be here today. He was born with a very rare cancer, and through that cancer he has taught me what true strength is. He has taught me what it really means to love someone unconditionally. I would go to the ends of the Earth for him. Being his mother has made me grow as a person in so many ways. He is my reason to force myself through the clouds of depression and anxiety on my bad days, and he makes my good days truly blissful.” — Autumn Breana Dowdy

Mother and son
submitted by Autumn Breana Dowdy

16. “Before I was a mom, I let my depression run (and ruin) my life. When I gave birth to my son (not pictured) it was honestly the happiest yet saddest day of my life! I could go on and on about that day and all the feelings I experienced. Then when I least expected it, God gave me my second reason to fight and give back — my daughter. I wish I could say I’ve won my fight with depression and anxiety, but it’s not even about winning. It’s about surviving the darkest of days. “– Laurie Stewart Spurlin

mother and daughter
submitted by Laurie Stewart Spurlin

17. “Being a mother with a mental illness is like struggling through the darkness to the beautiful light at the end of the tunnel — your child’s smile.” — Alaina McLeod

mom and child
submitted by Alaina McLeod
Originally published: May 8, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home