children’s mental health


Does It Even Matter?

by Heather Loeb

We finally got an appointment with a play therapist for Eli last week, and oh my God, he was wonderful. First, he has ADHD, too. During the first part of the appointment, he talked to my husband and I about our histories and what was going on at home. Usually, he said, he gets bored with neurotypical people, but he wasn’t bored with us. Granted, I’m not exactly neurotypical because of my depression and anxiety (and other fun mental health conditions). Then he asked, “Ok, so which one of you has ADHD?” My husband quickly answered, “Neither.” But I bit my lip. I’ve suspected I’ve had it ever since there were rumblings that Eli might have it in Pre-K. Now, my brother has it, which makes at a higher risk to have it, but I also read that having depression and anxiety puts me at a higher risk, too. There are other things as well. You might start thinking that I’m not hyperactive, but ADHD is different in older women.

But here’s the thing…Does it even matter if I have ADHD? I take Adderall anyway to help with slow days when it’s hard to get out of bed. It doesn’t change anything. I already feel like I relate to Eli because both of our brains are “unique.” But does it matter? Another acronyms on my laundry list of diagnoses? Aren’t I “unique” enough? When I write them down or divulge them when I’m speaking or presenting, it makes me feel so vulnerable.

Major Depression Disorder

People are accepting of one of two mental health condition but 6 or 7? Nah.

Persistant Depression Disorder

It’s really embarrassing when I go to the doctor or ER (which happens quite a bit).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It probably scares people, and maybe scares people who don’t know me that well. Surely, it doesn’t scare my friends anymore. They know they deal.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

I bet it was a shock to my parents. I’m sure they didn’t share it with the rest of my family.

Binge Eating Disorder

Especially the ones related to substance abuse.

Opioid Use Disorder – Moderate

I guess by now it shouldn’t bother me. I am recovery, but just like when I share what medications I’m on, there’s always some nurse who comments that “This is too much” like, hello, I just left one of the best psychiatric hospitals in the world.

Sedative, Hypnotic or Anxiolytic Drug Use Disorder – Moderate

I thought to ask my psychiatrist about it, but seriously, what does it matter? I can still relate to Eli, there’s no medicine change (if I do have it), it doesn’t affect my daily life, etc. And really, I don’t want the extra diagnosis. Call me vain, whatever. A girl can only handle the stares and turn red so many times.

So I guess it doesn’t matter. I guess it’s a compliment that the doctor wasn’t bored with us. Definitely not me, because I’m neurodivergent. David’s the “typical” one for a change, lol.

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I’ll admit it: I yell at my kids. I don’t like to and don’t mean to, but holy hell it’s hard not to lose it when they’re fighting, whining and screaming at me. Yes, they yell, too. I don’t like that either.


I’ll tell them something three or four times, and when they don’t listen, that’s when I raise my voice. But I don’t mean to pin my problem on them. I don’t think I should be yelling as much, and as loud, as I do.

Research shows that yelling and harsh verbal discipline can have similar negative effects as corporal punishment, according to MedicineNet. Children who are constantly yelled at are more likely to have behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, stress, and other emotional issues, similar to children who are hit or spanked frequently.

I don’t want to do that to my kids, but why is it so hard for me to not yell? My husband never yells. It pisses me off, although I do acknowledge that the kids are around me more, and they don’t treat us the same way. Why is that? I have so many questions but not a lot of answers when it comes to parenting. Especially when I consider that I’m parenting with several mental conditions. It’s hard and my depression and anxiety often dictate how I parent. I feel so out of control.

At times it seems I’m more frustrated with myself than them, and that’s not fair. And sometimes they cry after I yell, and that breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. I always apologize, but I fear the damage has been done. I talk to my therapist (who also works with children), and she helps me with parenting issues, but it never feels like enough. I’m not enough, not when it comes to my kids.

All I can do is just try not to yell. Practice my breathing when they throw a tantrum or are fighting. I used to count to 10 before I responded in those situations, but my short fuse can make me snap at anything. I can step away from the problem, start acknowledging my triggers and find solutions to them. I’ll do my best to talk with them about bad behavior instead of responding with fury. All this is easier said than done, but I’m desperate to try.

And I’m desperate that they don’t develop depression or anxiety over something I’m doing. They’re already genetically prone to mental conditions (on both sides of the family), so I refuse to take a part in causing it myself.

I can’t stop thinking about their faces when I’ve yelled. I hope I’m only imagining the fear in their eyes. I pray that the good in me as a mom outweighs the bad.

A lot of parents feel like they’re failing when it comes to their kids. We just have to do our best and remember that we’re not raising kids, we’re raising healthy adults.

There’s nothing I want more than for my kids to be healthy adults because I’m not one. Even at almost 38 years old. Even after a stint at a psychiatric hospital. Bad habits and behavior are hard to change, and if you don’t do it early, it’ll be so much worse as an adult. Trust me.

But I can do this. I can do hard things. And I start now. Day 1.

Short-term effects of yelling at your kids

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Behavioral problems (for example, boys are more likely to lose self-control, and girls may react with anger or frustration)
  • Withdrawal from the parent

If you want the long term effects, go here.
Source: MedicineNet

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Safe Haven

by Heather Loeb

As soon as the coronavirus started rapidly spreading, I started to panic. I panicked even more when, while the kids and I were at my mom’s house for Spring Break, the schools across the state starting closing. When lines wrapped around grocery stores. When my husband started to worry about business. What really bothered me the most is that I had to be with the kids at home 24/7 with virtually no breaks. I wasn’t trying to be selfish but I was worried about my fickle mental health. I tried to put a brave face on but no matter how hard I tried, the uncertainty and chaos had already sneaked inside their little lives.

The first things I noticed were changes in Eli. Usually, when I put him to bed I could sing him a song, tell him goodnight and he’d be out by 6:30 pm. When we returned to our home, Eli was afraid of the dark and wouldn’t go to bed without me. Then he started waking during the night. Now he’s up around 5:30 am, despite having an alarm clock that lets him know when he can get out of bed.

And that’s not all. Eli has started to hit – he’ll hit his sister, me and even his dad. One time he hit me so hard he knocked my glasses off and I spanked him. I cried so hard after that. We don’t even believe in spanking but I was at a loss. It was after that I started thinking – this virus has wreaked havoc on all our lives. It’s stressful no matter who you are or what you do. I know how stressful and anxiety-inducing it is for me but I hadn’t really thought about how this situation affects our children.

These sweet children are experiencing something that not even parents have been through. They’re out of routine. They miss their teachers and friends. Older ones are worried about high school graduation and and lamenting the fact they likely won’t return to their school. Some kids are experiencing death of their loved ones without ever having said goodbye. It’s depressing to think about but it is the reality of many. These are dark times.

No matter how old your children are, they’re still kids (or young adults). We all have to dig deep and find the resolve to create a safe place – to be their safe place. I’m not saying never share what’s going on in the world with them but if they do act out, and I’m guessing many will, we have to let them fall apart and put them back together again.

As a mom with depression who has “vacationed” at a psychiatric facility, I’ve seen very dark times. I’ve been scared. But nothing scares me more than thinking my children could get lost in the “dark” – the uncertainty and depressing road the weary world is traveling right now. So, of course I’ll stick to my mental wellness plan and I’ll take care of myself. Because I have to. I will protect my tender-hearted babies from the dark until my dying days.

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