Author Note: This article is part of a collection from the previously lost Bordering Bears website, and has thus been re-uploaded and archived.
One thing I’m sick of hearing both in public and online is that people with mental health conditions can’t be good parents.
Yes, I will have moments of struggle, but those are the times I ask for support.
No, my daughter has never seen me truly break down. She has seen me sad, crying, anxious etc. She’s seen normal emotions, both good and bad.
She’s also learning that emotions are OKAY. It’s okay to be happy or sad or angry or scared within reason.
Everyone has moments of irrational emotion. Everyone.
But to that person, the feelings are so very real.
I figured the best person to ask about this post would be Feena herself. So I gave her 5 quick questions.
How would you describe mental illness?
Feena: Um… how I would describe it… as confusing and… it makes you cry, stresses you out, it’s basically a mental thing and… it messes with you a bit. It just… doesn’t… make you feel okay and it just messes with your mind. It’s not good for you
Are people with mental illness bad?
Feena: No! Just because they have something doesn’t mean they’re bad. And… the saying… of this… well you can’t catch it. The people aren’t bad if they have ANYTHING, mental or in the body.
What do you think causes mental illness?
Feena: Well… it causes brain issues, you were bullied Mama, that could make people have that kind of illness.
Ver: Can you think of any other reasons?
Feena: Say, if you were at work and…your boss keeps on saying “do this” and you get stressed…. or…. people dying.
Do you think people with mental illness are stupid?
Feena: NO! (she sounded horrified) They’re not stupid because it’s not about… how clever you are. Because overall… even if you’re… even if you have a mental problem, it doesn’t…. it doesn’t mean you’re stupid. You can still do smart things. Just because you have a mental health…. it just… doesn’t mean you can’t do things. You can still live your life. That is what I’m trying to say to you. It’s not the end of the world, you just need to recover.
Do you think people with mental illness are bad parents?
Feena: No! Because… it doesn’t matter if you have it. Sometimes it does but… no. You do things for everyone… and you help people. And… you still… keep… your family safe and… to be honest… that’s not a bad parent. I like you Mama, you’re kind… she’s… loved… she’s AMAZING at her work and… I’m lucky to have her. (Ver: currently crying)
This kid KNOWS some of what I went through as a kid, and she knows that “Mama’s brain is a little bit broken so she gets sad sometimes”.
She knows that sometimes Mama will be sad or angry or hurt or happy.
She understands that sometimes people are a little bit damaged.
SHE DOESN’T JUDGE!
Thus proving that the stigma surrounding mental illness is one that is indoctrinated by people who have no real knowledge or value to add to the mental health conversation.
Children, inherently, do not judge based on ability, skin colour, sexuality, gender etc. That is something that is learned.
I am incredibly proud that my child doesn’t CARE about the above, only about how the person treats people and their happiness.
Big thanks to Feena for guest starring and answering those thought-provoking questions. I might do more segments where we get her opinion on things.