What you may be feeling
Being the parent of a child who is struggling with mental illness can be emotionally draining. You’re likely to be experiencing all kinds of different emotions—and sometimes all at the same time.
You may be feeling….
Helpless and uncertain: If you are just starting out on this journey, you may be feeling particularly helpless and uncertain. You may not be sure where to look for answers, what questions you should be asking, or what it will take to make things better for your child, yourself, and your family. You may feel like everything in your life has been upended or put on hold as you embark on this quest for answers. That can be really hard.
Worried and sad: You may be worried about your child’s wellbeing and you may feel sad because life is so hard for your child right now. It is hard to watch your child struggle. In fact, it can be nothing short of heartbreaking at times.
Frustrated and angry: You may be frustrated with yourself (for not being able to fix a situation that desperately needs fixing), with your child (for acting out in ways that may be really challenging for the entire family to deal with), with other family members (for not understanding the extent of your child’s struggle), and/or the mental health care system (for not being able to provide your child and your family with the support that you need as quickly as you need it). In fact, you may be furious some days.
Guilty: You may be feeling really guilty—secretly wondering if you are somehow to blame for your child’s struggles. The guilt can be crushing and overwhelming some days—even for a parent who generally feels confident in their parenting abilities. Carrying around that much guilt only serves to make a tough situation even harder.