To The Daughter Of A Mom With Mental Illness…
How do you know if you’re the daughter of a mom with mental illness?
Simply put, if you know, you know. And my heart earnestly breaks for you. You have endured a gamut of detrimental behavior by the woman that is supposed to be your nurturer, your advocate, and your cheerleader. Instead, you have likely experienced a roller coaster of emotionally charged situations in your life, and the trauma can have lasting effects on you throughout your life.
While I can attest to my own mom not having a mental illness, over the past year, I have come to know numerous women and children who have been the victims of mentally unstable, malicious, and mean mothers. Yes, I’m using the word victim because what these outrageous moms have inflicted upon their daughters truly dumbfounds me, and I cannot understand how a mother can selfishly scar their kids. You deserve so much more, and you should have been told, “I love you,” with no strings attached. You should have been loved purely, with kindness, patience, and without a record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13)
I have witnessed moms tell their daughters that the daughters were a mistake, not good enough, not smart enough, and not talented enough. I have seen mothers try to outshine their daughters, jealously justifying acting in competition to their kids. Mothers have questioned their children’s loyalty when the child pushes back, even when that child is grown. Mothers have used their daughters for bargaining chips in failed relationships, for crutches during emotional distress, and for excuses when it is convenient. Mothers have called names, claimed selfishness on the child’s part, and created unnecessary drama, all as a result of their own mental illness. Love bombing, extreme narcissistic behavior, ignoring, cutting-off, over-compensating, and bartering affection for favors – these can all be normal happenings in homes where mental illness is present in mothers.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes over 200 different diagnoses of mental illness.
Some mental illness can result in moms having difficulty coping with everyday life as a parent, causing daughters to grow up in an unpredictable home where chaos is an unfriendly norm. Other more severe mental illness can have consequences of children feeling unsure, unsafe, unloved, and unwanted.
Do you recognize yourself as a daughter of a mentally ill mom?
If so, please be encouraged that you are not alone, and know that acknowledging your childhood trauma should not be stigmatized nor left unspoken, and recognizing your situation is very important in the healing process.
To the daughters that are adults and must endure friends and coworkers discussing their healthy mother-daughter relationships: it’s not fair that you were cheated out of this experience. You should never have to cringe or have panic attacks at correspondence with your mother, and your hearts shouldn’t have to grieve the void of a healthy relationship.
There are a few very specific things that I want you to know:
- You are valuable, and you are NOT the sum of your mother’s issues. You are capable of having mentally healthy relationships.
- You do not have to repeat cycles in your own family. If you suffer from mental illness, pursue the help you need so that you can ensure your family gets a healthy, whole experience with you.
- Your feelings are validated. Your struggles can be your strength and you should embrace your survivorship as a badge of honor.
- You can control your boundaries as an adult. You don’t have to entertain behavior from your mother that hurts you. If you are not strong in this area, there are so many resources that can strengthen your journey.
- Keep your head up and your feet pressing forward.