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Self-care kit: Mentally Ill Mommy Edition

If you are a Pinterest searcher, as myself, I am sure you have stumbled across DIY self-care kits once or twice. Well, this is my take on it. The self-care kit for mommies who suffer from a mental illness (or are even just stressed out from the daunting responsibility of keeping a tiny human alive, because, let’s face it, that is stressful enough!). Feel free to leave additional suggestions in the comments or begin to come up with ideas for the “daddy edition”. I would’ve made a tandem mommy and daddy edition, but I am no expert on male self-care. I can barely care for myself half the time. I’m lucky if I eat 3 decent meals a day, rather than a few nibbles of my baby’s soft foods. So, please feel free to give suggestions on either gender. We all need care.
Self-care Kit: Mentally Ill Mommy Edition
Your favorite “feel good” book or movie (depending on if you need the quiet company of a book or the verbal company of your celebrity crush)

A playlist of your favorite upbeat songs (skip the depressive ones or the oldies that remind you of thou who shall not be named; we need to smile, not cry)

An oversized soft blanket or weighted blanket (apparently, it helps with anxiety… I have yet to test this theory, but hopefully I can spoil myself a bit and buy one soon)

Your favorite drink and snacks. Yes, I should be promoting “drink water” and “eat healthy” in this section, but hey, we are looking for comfort; not to be guilt tripped into making good dietary choices.

Oh, this one’s a fave of mine… smell good stuff! I personally enjoy essential oils (eucalyptus, lavender, sandalwood, oh my!) but a candle, wax burner, or even room spray will work

Another aromatherapy item… scented lotion. Moisturizer can work wonders for the skin and the mind.

For the art lovers, a journal, sketch pad, canvas, paint, pencils, pens, etc. are a must to have on hand for when the need to release our emotions through creation hits. Suggestion: make a list or draw pictures of things/people you love and that bring you happiness.

A list of phone numbers is always good to have. These should be people who will help calm you down and help lessen your anxiety/stress. In addition to your friends and family, you could also jot down your local suicide hotline or warmline, in case of a mental health emergency. It’s better to be prepared and proactive.

Yoga, anyone? If you have a yoga mat, it can be beneficial to have this handy when you need to release physical tension. In addition to having your mat, it is also good to have a yoga app, pose book, or even a program on your television to follow along with. Unless you already know the sun salutation. Namaste.

A bath bomb, bath salts, or bubbles in case you find the rare ten minutes to jump in a warm bath. Peace and quiet? Yes, please! My current obsession is Epsom salts with mint leaves, but I currently purchased lemon honey Epsom salts from Dollar General for $1! They have a delicious citrus scent and I cannot wait to try them.

Either a photo box, scrapbook, or an album on your cellphone of pictures of people/things that will put a smile on your face 🙂

Fuzzy socks, slippers, or Aloe Vera infused socks

A face mask or your favorite face wash for a facial

Favorite nail polish with nail file/cuticle pusher/clippers

Okay… that’s all for now. My child is crying and throwing a hissy. So, I must go. I am most definitely going to need my self-care kit in about 3… 2… 1…

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Poem from a 13-year-old

I wrote this poem when I was thirteen. Keep in mind, I had no kids at this age (Thank goodness!) I found it in an old binder about 2 months after my first child was born. My 13-year-old self had some wisdom into the future, it seems, because even at such a young age, I had these futuristic parenting thoughts in my mind. This poem has new meaning for me now, as I stumble through the days trying my best to be a “calm and kept” mother; trying not to get too loud. It is hard to fight off the frustration of life’s every day minor struggles, especially when suffering from a mental illness, but this poem stays as a reminder that my younger self knew what 24-year-old me needed to hear.

Parenting 

By: 13-year-old Tara

Born into a new world

needing guidance and love each day

being patient as they search to discover

teaching them words to speak and say

watching over them as they take each new step

moments will come when you feel so proud

but things will get tough, stay calm and kept

the baby’s still so vulnerable; please don’t get loud

talk in a whisper; show them you care

represent, for your child, wrong from right

as they grow, they’ll be a reflection of you

they’ll grow to be genuine; they’ll grow to be true

born into a new world

give them guidance and love

be patient while they discover

teach them new words

watch over them with each step

be proud

stay calm and kept

try your very hardest not to get loud

day and night, always be there

show your baby that you care

Parenting

Perseverance

If you ever watch a baby, you’ll notice that they have this beautiful curiosity about them. What is more outstanding than their curiosity, though, is their perseverance. When one suffers from a mental illness, we often hit a point where we breakdown. Now, allow me to say, breakdowns are okay! You may be thinking, “What? Who wants to breakdown?” Well, no one, but they are normal. Here is the rule that I follow personally: When a breakdown occurs (and lucky for me, they are reoccurring), I allow myself about 10 minutes to completely cry it out. I mean, full on ugly-cry. When that 10 minutes is up, I clean off my face, drink a cold glass of water (okay…. that was a lie. I drink a RedBull; don’t judge me), and move on with my day. This way, I do not get stuck in the rut of the breakdown. I do not allow it to control or ruin my whole day. Babies are very similar. If you ever watch a baby who is learning how to walk, they try, fall, cry, and then try again. They are relentless, I tell you! We need to regress back towards the good qualities we had as babies. (I would advise against wearing diapers again, but hey, who am I to judge?) The good qualities though; curiosity, perseverance, relentlessness… and hey, even treat yourself to a “bottle” every now and then.

Parenting

Sleepless

When one deals with a mental health disorder such as depression, bipolar, or anxiety, getting the right amount of sleep is SO important. When you have a baby, though, sleep is a sweet, sweet treat that you do not get to taste as often as you’d like. “Sleep when the baby sleeps”, they say, but then when will you get anything done? You’re watching the baby like a hawk when they’re awake and then, when they sleep, you have those piled up, dirty dishes calling your name, laundry needing to be done, dinner begging to be cooked (and believe me, “begging” is the right word, because you’ve barely eaten anything recently, right?) and oh… you want to read a book for leisure? HA, let’s not get ahead of ourselves now, moms or dads. We aren’t superheroes.

So, tell me parents, HOW do you find the time?

Parenting

A day in the life…

Being a mom is hard enough, but being a mom who “suffers” from bipolar disorder is a whole new level of wtf. I put “suffers” in parenthesis because I do not want to convey the message that bipolar disorder runs my life. I am NOT my disorder; I am ME. Perfectly imperfect with a sprinkle of bipolar and a dash of borderline personality disorder. For anyone else out there who is in a similar situation (mentally-ill and striving to be a great parent), please know that my positive vibes go out to you. It is not easy at all and seems to be a battle almost everyday, if not constantly. If you are willing, I will extend to you your free ride ticket… jump on this wild rollercoaster with me to experience a wide range of emotions; I hope to bring tears to your eyes because you laugh so hard, a smile to your face because you can possible relate to some of my struggles, and the comfort of feeling less alone. Want to take a ride?