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'Teen Mom' Star Tyler Baltierra's Raw Instagram Video Is for Any Parent With a Mental Illness Who Feels Lost

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If you’re a parent living with a mental illness, you know it can be challenging to take care of others on days you can’t manage to take care of yourself. You want to be strong in front of your kids, but also don’t want them to think mental health is something to be ashamed of. It’s a balancing act, and it can be hard to decide how much to let your kids in.

Tyler Baltierra from “Teen Mom” knows this well. In an Instagram video posted on Monday, he revealed he’s struggling with his mental health and doesn’t know how to discuss it with his children. His wife, Catelynn Baltierra, entered treatment for her mental health just last month — her third time since November.

In the raw video, Baltierra said:

Sometimes, you just don’t even know what to say to your children. I don’t ever cry in front of Nova [my daughter] or anything. I don’t want her to feel any of that. You have good days, and then you have bad days. And today is just a bad day. But I know I’m not the only one feeling like this, so if you’re in that same boat as me, hang in there and you’re not alone and talk to somebody.

Baltierra definitely isn’t the only one feeling like this, so we asked our mental health community what advice they would give parents struggling with their mental health. Here’s what they said:

1. “Love yourself as much as you love your children. Show them the light you need and it will be reflected back in their eyes.” — Skyler D.

2. “I’ve had to go away for treatment twice. First time was five weeks for my eating disorder, recently seven days for depression. I have three kids, 13, 11 and 8. I was honest as I could be and told them I have something called depression and I was going somewhere doctors could help. I told them that both times. I have two girls and didn’t want to explain anorexia to them. I was open because I know about genetics. I want them to know getting help is not a shameful thing.” — Tammy P.

3. “I am just completely honest. And my son has been dealing with my mental illnesses and physical health for as long as he can remember. They are wiser than we give them credit. Honesty is always the way to go, and sugar coating things only sets confusion. My son is one of the most compassionate people from his experiences. While it is not fair he has a sick mum, he is emotionally mature because of growing up with me. We parents need to stop being ashamed. And we need to teach our kiddos the same… at least that’s my two cents.” — Samantha L.

4. “Honesty goes a long way. Do not underestimate your child’s ability to see and catch on to things without knowing it. Communicate even when it’s hard and don’t shut out a child who cares because you risk an adult who doesn’t.” — Zoe S.

5. “I tell my child that just like your body can get sick with a cold, your brain can get sick too. It happens sometimes and all we can do is try to get better. I reassure her that it’s OK to have feelings and sometimes they can all get too much.” — Emma K.

6. “I tell my kids how I am feeling. I keep it simple and straightforward without telling them the details. I reassure them that I love them and everything will be OK.” — Shonni B.

7. “It depends on what age your child/ren are. I mean cause younger children often have a lille harder time grasping, but try and think of a way to explain to them so they understand. If the child/ren are older, be open and share exactly how you are feeling… Remember to let them know you love them dearly but ‘your brain is in a Healing Process. Time is healing. So please be patient with mommy/daddy.’” – Elizah P.

8. “I try to be open when I’m having a bad day. I tell my daughter (who’s 8), “I know you don’t understand right now but as you grow you will learn what it is, but I have depression and today is not a good day.” I still make her food, I put on her favorite movies, I hug her and tell her it’s going to be OK.” — Violet S.

9. “Be honest! Kids aren’t invisible, they can sense when things aren’t right. Depending on their age explain your illness simply, let them know it’s “not their fault” and let them know how they can help. Even if you say, ‘I just need five minutes of quiet time, I’m not feeling well,” it’s a helluva lot better than letting them see you lose it with no idea why.” — Dorothy J.

10. “I think it depends on two things: how old they are and how mature you think they are. You know your children better than anyone. Children are very resilient and actually it’s better to be open to a certain extent so that they are aware you can be poorly emotionally and mentally. If you are open and honest about your feelings, they won’t feel scared of opening up about their feelings.” — Leanne B.

11. “I would say to keep it simple yet informative, in a way that a child can understand; just as you do with sex or any other tough subject. Knowledge is power and arming our children with it is one of the best things we can do, not only so they can show us compassion and understanding, but so they can also show it to themselves should they notice similar symptoms in their own behavior.” — Sandi C.

12. “Have them watch ‘Inside Out.’ Use their examples to help explain that sometimes sadness takes over and the other emotions can’t help make it settle down.” — Cheyenne M.

For any parent, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself — and know that even on your “bad days,” you’re not the only parent who’s struggling. As Baltierra wrote in the text overlaying his video, “I’m posting this because I think it’s important for people to not feel alone in their struggles. We’re humans, we’re allowed to have bad days, hard times & weak moments. Don’t be ashamed of what makes us humans special. You’re loved. You’re worthy.”

For more insight on parenting with a mental illness, check out the pieces below:

Originally published: February 7, 2018
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