Living With Mental Illness Is Hard

Living with mental illness as a mother is even harder.

When I first became deeply ill, I did not realize the impact it would have on my children. At the time, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of hiding it. But, I have discovered they saw more than I thought they did, and they didn’t like it.

Dawn at Tallulah Gorge, GA

The youngest one was only 2, so she doesn’t really remember. The older two were 9 and 11. They remember. They remember the emotional absence, and that’s painful for me.

Was It a Waste?

Sometimes I feel sad that I missed much of their growing up years; that I really wasn’t “there” for them. But then my gracious Heavenly Father reminds me of truth. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” He reminds me that those years were His plan for me, but not just for me. This was part of His plan for my children as well. It was part of His plan to make them into the people of God He is designing them to be. This was part of their spiritual journey, just like it was part of mine. And I am grateful – grateful to know that this was not for evil in their lives, but for good.

Contentment is Hard

My children are older now. Do I see the good from those years? No, I don’t see the depths of all that God is doing in their hearts, and I have to be content knowing He may never show me. He has asked me to trust His promise that it was for good, and this mother’s heart is learning to do so.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

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9 thoughts on “Living With Mental Illness Is Hard

  1. such honesty is inspiring Dawn and I to have had my issues with depression and anxiety and I feel it’s a “legacy” I give to my children. I believe they are stronger for going through these things with me and they have more compassion for others that are hurt, need help and are struggling. YOU have done a great job being a Mom I am certain. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on such a personal level.

    • Diane,

      I am sorry for your struggles, but appreciate your attitude towards it. It is true our children are more understanding of those who struggle with life issues. Thank you for that great reminder.


  2. Dawn, I have compassion for you in your struggle with illness. I have three perspectives on mental illness. My mother was diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia when I was a teenager. I have been diagnosed with manic depression in my 50s. My young adult daughter now has been diagnosed with ADHD and non-specific bipolar tendencies. I appreciate that you write openly about your concerns. Usually Christians have much sympathy for those with physical illness; but the invisible illnesses of the mind are sometimes considered lack of faith or result of a poor relationship with Jesus Christ. Our Lord and Saviour did not turn his back on those tormented by demons. He cast them out. He provided me with the pharmaceutical prescription to balance my seesawing moods, caused by chemical imbalance in my brain. I am not ashamed and grateful for relief. I regret that my mother did not find a satisfactory chemical solution until her later years. I am thankful to God that he provided a doctor who was able to prescribe the medicine that I need. I have faith that God will provide the right solution for my daughter, who loves the Lord and desires to serve Him. God bless you and yours.

    • Dear Friend,
      Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry for the pain you have had to endure with your mother, yourself and now your daughter all related to mental illness. I, too, have seen how the Church has sympathy for the physically broken, and those who suffer the “invisible illnesses of the mind” (I love how you phrase that) are considered to have a lack of faith. I was raised to believe that psychiatry was a tool from Satan to mess with your mind and pull you away from Jesus. I believe that kind of thinking breaks the heart of God. Jesus has used my life with anxiety and depression to bring me closer to Him, and to know Him in a way I never would have without it. God has so blessed you with a doctor and medicine to help you. What a precious gift from a loving Heavenly Father!

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  4. I admire your willingness to share your thoughts on the subject matter of mental illness.So many Christians hide this because of the thoughts that if one is a Christian ,God should take care of this and poof the illness is gone!
    My sister is bipolar and doesn’t believe she is therefore does not take medication…..
    My prayers are with you Dawn.Please continue to share your thoughts, writing is excellent therapy!

    • Carol,
      I’m sorry I’m late in responding. I want to be sure to thank you for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it. Yes, sadly we want to believe the Cross was meant to give us freedom from any type of suffering when the opposite is true. The beauty is that Jesus knows what it is to suffer deeply and because of the Cross He walks with us in that suffering and does His good work in our lives. Suffering matters.

  5. Hi I’m new here, my name is carol and I’m 57, I take antidepressants, and am struggling with being a Christian and mental ill. So glad to have found your blog and hoping to find fellowship and encouragement. I struggle with depression and fear.

    • Carol,
      I’m sorry for your struggle with fear and depression. I know what a daily struggle that is. I’m glad you found our web-site, and found it encouraging. That is why I write; to encourage those who suffer with mental illness to look to Jesus, the One who totally gets it and cares. Look to Jesus!

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