Mental Illness and Parenting...your opinion?!

Amanda - posted on 11/13/2010 ( 42 moms have responded )

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I have a mental illness called Depression and Anxiety. It runs in my dads side of the family and has just recently excalated the past few years. I'm on medication and see my dr once a month. I have seen many DrPhil episodes about mothers having mental illnesses and him saying that there is nothing wrong with that. I have heard from a lot of people that mothers with a mental illness shouldn't have their children, since they may not be capable to care for their children. I care for my children quite well I think, and have never been in trouble with the law, or anyone else for the matter for poor care. What do you think about mothers having a mental illness? Do you think they really can't care properley for their children?

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Ez - posted on 11/14/2010

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People don't question whether a diabetic, or a transplant-recipient can be good mothers. Mental illness, when treated appropriately, is no different.



We have a patient who is schizophrenic, and just had a baby. She has moved back home with her parents (family support) and is being monitored closely by the GP, psychiatrist and social worker. Another secretary actually commented that this patient shouldn't be allowed to have that baby because of her mental illness (obviously not in front of her, or any other patient). I (barely) politely told her what I thought of that opinion :-/



It really is a case-by-case assessment. This particular patient is cooperative, compliant and well aware of her limitations. There are obviously women out there who have uncontrolled mental illness who would not be fit to care for a child, but it is unfair to taint them all with the same brush.

Sharon - posted on 11/15/2010

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I dont' think Downs syndrom is a mental illness? Its not something that can fixed or controlled - its a chromosomal defect reflected in features, fingers and mental characteristics, namely the slanted eyes, stubby fingers and some form of retardation.

And I don't agree they had a right to reproduce.

Rae - posted on 11/14/2010

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I am slightly nuts, have adhd, depression+ anxiety which i am taking meds for, the only time I wasnt taking them is through my pregnancies as it been proven they can cause defects in baby esp in first trimester. While I was off the meds. I kept in close contact with the councillor from the hospital and she kept tabs on me to :). I know if I dont take the meds, i am not capable of looking after my children. So my answer is this, from my personal view a mother with mental illness is very capable of looking after her children IF she is looking after herself to.

Stifler's - posted on 11/14/2010

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Depression is a serious mental illness, I think it's as serious as cancer and schizophrenia. They can all have the same outcome if not treated.

Sharon - posted on 11/14/2010

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"a moment of depression" is NOT clinical depression. When someone is "suffering from clinical depression" they can't overcome it with will power.

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A - posted on 11/15/2010

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Jodi- lovely point. I think we all know people who aren't mentally ill that can't take of their children!

Jodi - posted on 11/15/2010

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I think it depends on a person to person basis and also depends on time to time. I'm pretty messed up, I have depression, ADD OCD and severe anxiety. I have always coped well, sometimes I need medications, othertimes I can push through it (not that I'm "fixed", but I can cope). Both during and for several months after my first pregnancy (and being pregnant again we're going through it all again :( ) it all gets worse. Without the medication, my OCD was out of control and I was unable to care for my child. My mother had to move in with me while we waited for the medications to kick in. I am in close contact with my counselor now and will start the medications a few weeks before I'm due so as to avoid the same problem this time around.
And let's not even mention that some people WITHOUT mental illnesses are wholly uncapable of caring for their children. Having a mental illness doesn't make one an unfit parent right off the bat.

[deleted account]

Desiree,depression is just an excuse??? You're kidding, right? Been there, done that - the blackest period of my life. And you're saying it's just an excuse? That's pretty insulting to those of us who have gone through it! It's a chemical imbalance. I had days when I literally could not get out of bed, days when I sat staring into space for hours, days when I was so scared of just being alive that I got the shakes, days when I could not speak - and you've got the nerve to tell me it's not an illness but just an excuse!

And it's not just an opinion, it medical fact. Churchill called his depression his "black dog." And he ran a country.

A - posted on 11/15/2010

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@ Sharon- I'm not being overly sensitive. When writing on the internet its hard to understand ppl's intent.... I debated whether your comment was intended to imply that or not. Obviously that wasn't your intent so sorry if I sounded rude :)

Tara - posted on 11/15/2010

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I have post traumatic stress disorder combined with anxiety and mild to moderate depression.
I was sexually abused as a child and have struggled for the last several years (since my own daughters reached the age I was when it all started) and am currently medicated. I see my doctor as needed but did a year of counselling. I am a mom to 6 kids, I homeschool and I am good at both roles.
I have days when I'm not as good as others, like everyone else, but my illness is controllable. I am capable because I have support, proper medication, a great doctor and loving friends and family. If it were not for these things I would not be in a position to adequately provide for my kids emotional needs because I wouldn't have the stability that those things provide to me.
So it totally depends on the situation. And whether or not a mental illness is being successfully treated or not. If a mother is depressed and lies in bed all morning while her toddler runs around in a shitty diaper with a pair of scissors in his hands and your 7 year old gets himself on the bus, well that there is a problem and that mom's illness is a danger to her children.
Do you see what I mean?

Sharon - posted on 11/15/2010

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A N - I certainly didn't mean to sound as if mental illness were easy to control or could always be fixed, I know better than that.

I think you're overly sensitive since your own mother was clearly unfixable. For which I feel for you and your family.

A - posted on 11/15/2010

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I think downs is more of a mental handicap than a mental illness. And Sharon- you make it sound like mental illness is easy to control or be fixed. My mother had mental problems her whole life and we never found a solution for it- no matter what doctor, drug, or remedy we tried.

Tracey - posted on 11/15/2010

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Depends on the condition. i remember reading about a couple who both had downs and wanted a child but social services felt they would not be able to care for it so threatened to take it away if they ever had a baby, but the couple argued it was their human right to have children.

[deleted account]

Desiree what you describe is not depression. When someone is depressed they feel like they cannot go on, that they don't want to live anymore.

A - posted on 11/14/2010

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I don't think anyone on here can tell you whether you're fit to parent or not. We don't see what goes on day in and day out. I think the best people to ask are your children (if old enough to ask) and your husband/partner and family and doctor. They will better be able to judge that.

I think some people are capable- but it is probably a struggle. My mother had severe mental illness. I don't even want to go in to all of that but trust me I'm not exaggerating and it was bad growing up. I don't think my mother should have had us in her care. If I had been an adult when I was growing up (like a neighbor or friend) who knew what was going on in my house- I would have called CPS on my parents. It was really ridiculous. Just to give one example- my mother was notorious for just going crazy and getting mad over nothing. One time she started hitting me while I was sitting in a recliner in the living room. Beating me with her fists. I kicked her off of me in self defense (I was probably 14 years old at the time). She went downtown and filed assault charges against me. We both ended up having to go to counseling. The cops had been called on us too. But at that point I was into rock and dressed kind of punkish, so as soon as the cop saw me he assumed I was a delinquent and sided with my mother. My older brother and sister had had enough and left to get away. I wish someone would have stepped up and defended me.

So as you can probably see, some mentally ill people are unfit to care for their children. But like I said I can't judge you on that...

Kate CP - posted on 11/14/2010

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Desiree: You obviously have no idea what it's like to deal with severe depression and thus you have no idea what you're talking about.

Desiree - posted on 11/14/2010

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Actually I do get it that its not a choice, but it is still a choice the way you choose to deal with it. Even a Diabetic can turn down medication. They know it can kill them but they can still decide whether to take the medication or not to, whether to eat correctly or not. At no point did I say that it wasn't an illness and nor am I saying don't take medication for it....But I am saying fine your are ill but its no reason to stop living or to carry on or not to have a family. And yes there are also on the flip side those who unable to get out of it and other have to step in to help. It does happen there I agree... maybe we should agree to disagree on some points though.

Johnny - posted on 11/14/2010

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Some people may have clinical depression that is so severe that they are unable to care for children and raise a family. A friend of my father ended up raising his kids alone because his wife became so deeply depressed that she could not even care for herself. She was medicated, but it never improved much.

Sharon - posted on 11/14/2010

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See, you're still not getting it. Its NOT a choice. Its not like opting out of eye care, or choosing to not wear a blue shirt.

If true clinical depression hits you - its like diabetes. Its a debilitating disease that wears you down and possibly, without treatment, can kill you.

Desiree - posted on 11/14/2010

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Sharon That I agree with you I never said that it didn't exsist, I just don't agree that it should be used as an excuse at not being able to do something like bringing up a family. In other words yes there is no reason why a Depressed person should not be able to have children and that there should never be a law or reason to remove a child from this mothers care unless she is a risk to her child. And no there is no reason why she can't do a good job at it either. I just put it in a way that obviously upset people and I am sorry about that. and I am not forcing you to my way of thinking, it was just an opinion.

Johnny - posted on 11/14/2010

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What you are talking about struggling with Desiree, is more the "blues" not depression. People suffering from clinical depression can not just get over it by getting off their backsides. I've been "depressed", by which I mean I've had the blues pretty badly. It took me quite a while to "get off my backside" but I was able to and I got myself right. If I'd had clinical depression, no amount of willpower or determination would have fixed it.

Desiree - posted on 11/14/2010

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Jennifer yes I have and no I am not taking it lightly I was just voicing an oppion. We just have different ways of coping and dealing with it. I am just not the type of person who allows much to get me down. I believe that I can face it and deal with it But then again I have also heard that depression can manifest itself physically. I am not saying its not a mental illness either. I tend to deal with depression on a very physical basis in other words when I start to feel low, I just get up and do something very physical, tile a bathroom, re-arrange an room, dig in the garden. I know there are people who suffer from a much more severe form of it and need to be on medication but nor do they sit on the backsides and say things like I can't do something because I have a mental illness. And then there are those who expect the world to revolve around them. I know its classed as a mental illness but I don't class it the same as I would a Pshcizophrenic, or a sociopath.

[deleted account]

Desiree have you ever suffered from depression? If you had I don't think you'd take it as lightly as you do.

Desiree - posted on 11/14/2010

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Katie sorry that my opions are not yours but that is the way I feel. I just don't class it the way everyone else does. And actually I just realised I made an error and wrote my post incorrectly I meant to say that there is no reason that someone with depression can't have and raise a family. Sorry about that. I just didn't read through before posting as I normally do. Sorry again didn't mean to offend.

Johnny - posted on 11/14/2010

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My mother was a wonderful Mom when I was growing up. She gave me lots of affection and took good care of my basic needs. She suffers from depression, anxiety, ADHD and very mild OCD. She hoards somewhat. It has made our relationship difficult, and now it makes it hard for us to connect, but there was no reason that she should not have become a mother. She has fairly severe PND, and with the help of her health nurse, my dad, her mom & sister, she managed to care for me nonetheless. I think people with mental health problems might need more support to parent, just like people with physical health problems, but it does not in any way render them incompetent or inappropriate as parents. I would say though, that people suffering psychosis should not be caring for children. It is simply too dangerous.

And not considering depression a mental illness is ignorance pure and simple. There are "the blues" and then there is clinical depression. They are not the same thing. The blues can be fairly serious, but is a situational issue. Clinical depression is a diagnosable chemical imbalance resulting in a mental illness.

[deleted account]

Lets put it this way - if every mother who had depression or PND wasn't allowed to care for their own child there would be a huge number of children in care. I believe a mother should be able to look after her child whether she has depression or bipolar, or any other mental illness. As long as she has the relavant support at her side that's what matters most.

Katherine - posted on 11/14/2010

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Um hmmm. Depression s NOT an excuse, just like cancer is NOT an excuse. It's a chemical imbalance. It's been scientifically proven. Can you provide some data on that please?

Rosie - posted on 11/14/2010

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seriously desiree? depression IS a mental illness. just because in your fantasy land it isn't, doesn't mean that every doctor out there classifies it as a mental illness. your brain doesn't work the same way as it does when you aren't depressed. it's not something people can just snap out of.

Desiree - posted on 11/14/2010

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There is mental illness and mental illness, I don't consider Depression as a mental illness just an excuse (if you use it as one) there is no reason for someone with depression to have and raise a family. It becomes a problem only if you make it a problem or use it as an excuse to explain away your short comings as a person. Besides I don't know of very many moms who don't have a moment of depression, mine at the moment is about being broody, but my brains say a different story as my two are now 10 and 12 and I can't have anymore right now my insides don't work properly. But everyone has their moment mine just happens to be today.

Rebecca - posted on 11/14/2010

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I have bipolar disorder and multiple anxiety disorders and my daughter and her health and protection are my number one priority. I'm not on meds or currently seeing a therapist, but lately i haven't needed to. as long as a person has a level head, i don't think most mental illnesses would get in the way of their parenting.

JuLeah - posted on 11/13/2010

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depends on the mental illness and their ability to care for the chidlren. There are some illnesses that would limit a persons ability to care for children. But, odds are, this person would not really be able to live without assistance anyway.
There are many parents who do not have any kind of dignoses and yet, can't care for their children.

Sarah - posted on 11/13/2010

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I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder & I see a counselor about once every 6 weeks or so. I've also been on medication for it for years. I have done everything in my power to control my OCD & I'm doing very well these days. My MIL made a dumbass comment to my husband once about my ability to be a good mom while having a mental illness. It really pissed me off, but oh well. I know I'm a good mom, my son is very well taken care of & I don't have to prove anything to my MIL. I think mommies can be wonderful moms even though they have a mental illness. I do think that it's important to do what you can to control it better (ex. counseling, meds, etc etc.) As long as your children are taken care of, it shouldn't matter!

Stifler's - posted on 11/13/2010

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if you're skitzing out often and having multiple suicide attempts like one of my friend's mum used to and it's disturbing your children then they probably should be taken away.

Stifler's - posted on 11/13/2010

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meh. PND is very common, they can't take away everyone's kids. as long as you keep on top of it and take the medication/have regular checkups about it and aren't abusing the kids it shouldn't be a big deal.

Jenn - posted on 11/13/2010

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My Mum is bi-polar, and she was a great Mum to us! I think she kept a lot of stuff hidden though. There are lots of people out there who shouldn't have kids though - just look at all of these horrible websites like parentfail.com - but that isn't in direct relation to any mental illness - just stupid people.

Kayle - posted on 11/13/2010

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I have some depression and anxiety too. It's all about knowing you. I know when I have to take my anxiety meds. If I didn't know when I needed to then I would probably not be good mother because I get extremely agitated during an attack. But I think as long as you have your mental illness under control and are capable of caring for your children thats all that matters.

Lacye - posted on 11/13/2010

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There is nothing wrong with a mom having a mental illness. Let's face it, mothers are people too! The way I look at it, if you are taking care of your kids, taking the medicine properly, and are a law abiding citizen, why should it matter?

Amber-Dawn - posted on 11/13/2010

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My mother suffers from Bi-Polar Disorder, and was only just recently diagnosed. She also has ADD, and depression. The other two she was diagnosed with some years ago. She was a good mother, we always had what we needed, and she cared for us. Now that she has the proper medication, she's an even better mother. I think it's a person-by-person thing

Katherine - posted on 11/13/2010

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Kate you crack me up!!!
I'm on meds too. For the same thing as you, Amanda. I think that's crap, but like Kate said it's case by case.
If you're say, bi-polar, or schizophrenic, or you have auditory and visual hallucinations and don't take your meds, then yes, I think that's poor parenting.
Just being on the meds is showing responsibility, because of course the person who administers them is a psychiatrist and they keep pretty good tabs on you IMO. So if anything were to happen you do have a safety net.
Take your meds=functional IMO.

Kate CP - posted on 11/13/2010

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I'm nuts and I have kids. I'm also medicated for it, too. Without my medication I *wouldn't* be a good mom. There are some people that just shouldn't have children but that's really a case-by-case thing.

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