As part of our 20K in April challenge, we’re sharing stories, with permission, from our community every day from 13th to 30th April. All are true accounts of the reality of a random group of parents in our community. Some are professionals, others full time carers. Some have been battling for years, others are new to this dance of accessing services, navigating school, coping with shame, guilt and judgment, and keeping their child alive while trying to work, look after their other children, have a relationship, have a life. All of them deserve, like their children, to be heard and helped.
Parenting a child with mental health difficulties is the hardest role I have ever had. It isn’t just the life changing impact on the unwell child, but also the huge ripple effect on siblings, parents, friends/family. It is relentlessly 24/7, and even if they are having a ‘good’ day, your mind is always hyper vigilant.
You read and research to learn as much as you possibly can, to be better able to support your child and their difficulties. You pick your battles, you learn to let go of your normal parenting role to some degree to be able to walk beside them and not ‘try and fix it for them’ (as desperately as we all would love to). You somehow become referred to as a carer, not mum, but a carer that is unpaid, with no training, support, supervision, holiday etc.
It can be an incredibly isolating, heartbreaking, exhausting, lonely experience. It can take you to new levels of emotions that you never knew even existed. Then, on top of all of that, you have to find the energy to fight for your child, to be an advocate for them when they can’t be, and don’t even get me started on the constant battle with the shockingly underfunded mental health services and lack of any real support.
In PMH I have found the most supportive, compassionate, empathetic and knowledgeable bunch of people that you could imagine. The group is run amazingly well – so much effort put in; sub groups, mentors, expert talks, nothing is too much trouble. I finally have a space where I genuinely feel heard, listened to and that someone cares – that is rare throughout this experience, and completely invaluable. Anyone who supports PMH should feel honoured and privileged to be part of such a game changing experience for parents. Support to PMH might mean even more services could be offered to struggling parents. There really aren’t enough resources, you hear about it in the media but it isn’t until you actually need them that you realise just how poor they really are. Mental health services are not currently fit for purpose and need a huge injection of funding and bringing in line with physical health services. Mental health isn’t ever going away so any help, in any way, that anyone can offer, all helps – and mental health certainly needs all the help it can get. I couldn’t think of a better cause or charity to support!
If you would like to donate to the 20K challenge, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/suzanne-alderson
If you’d like to sign up and fundraise as part of the 20K Challenge in April for Parenting Mental Health, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/PMH-Sphinx20KChallenge