My name is Shauna and I grew up with a Mom who struggled with mental illness. When my kids ask about her I tell them that she was an amazing mom who was always at every one of my swim meets and school events and was the mom all of my friends went to for advice. What I don’t always share is that from a very young age I remember watching as the woman I loved go from smiles and hugs to crying and sobbing for no reason. I didn’t know what was wrong as I watched her crumble before me… I was young and didn’t know how to help her and to this day I wonder how her life would have been if she had help.
You see, years later my sister and I have realized that my mom had a mental illness. Whether she had depression or was bi-polar, we don’t know because no one ever cared to test her. Instead of listening to her, doctors told her time and again that she was hormonal and would get better on her own. She was alone. Her friends only knew the happy-go-lucky woman and not the woman who would turn to tears on a dime. They knew the smiling woman who was in charge of the swim team, not the one who sat alone in her room night, after night.
I am speaking out today for all the children who should never have to watch their moms fall apart and feel like they don’t matter… As a child of a woman who wasn’t strong enough to deal with things on her own, but didn’t have anyone to lean on. I am speaking out today, as a child of someone who SHOULD have had support. I am speaking out today because my mom lost her life to depression! She missed my graduation, she missed my wedding, and she will never see the smiles on her grandbabies face.
I am speaking out today so that we talk about all aspects of mental illness! We need to support those who have it and those who live with them and make sure they know that they are never alone in their fight for a healthy life. No more stigmas; let’s change things NOW!