Sometimes, in my daydreams, I fantasize about having children that are productive members of society: college graduates, productive job, living their own life in their own place. I'm ashamed to tell you this. By now I should have expunged those dreams from my mind and my vocabulary. I should be relishing the fact that I get to commune with my children for a little while longer. I should realize that the older two need me right now, especially my daughter. I long for a peaceful home that doesn't have drama everyday. Sometimes the drama gets very old. I know that my husband would like to walk out of the situation. It can be so hard for him to bear. Honestly, I feel that way sometimes. Lots of things keep both of us here. Mostly each other, and our youngest child. I look at the situation, and I feel like I'm in a no-win situation that will never end. The thought of being in it much longer sends disappointment shuddering through my being.

The drama. Oh my, the drama. Every little thing is magnified exponentially. The mentally ill can be so preoccupied with themselves in a most unhealthy way. It drains the listener so much that it can be difficult to be sympathetic, and sometimes can cause the listener to want to avoid the mentally ill person. I understand that more than I care to admit. It makes it hard for the mentally ill subject to find and keep friends. However, I so admire and appreciate those friends of Arianna's that come back day after day to be there for her. They are so good at helping her put things into perspective, and focus on more meaningful dialogue. I so appreciate those friends! I wish I could be more like them. Of course, those friends aren't living with her day in and day out, and definitely aren't responsible for her care and well-being. Of course, I'm supposed to be responsible for her, but her friends don't have to be, but they choose to. I applaud them. I applaud anyone who takes the time to know someone who suffers from mental illness, because they can see the special part of that person, and they appreciate it. And in the meantime, they can take a little of the burden off of the family that lives with it 24-7.

This isn't to say that I don't love my daughter. I do, with all of my heart. I appreciate her gifts, and her abilities. She can be delightful to be around. And my hope is that one day she will be all that all the time. But in the meantime, I need to learn ways of dealing with my inner turmoil, and not let it affect my relationship with a daughter who, although she suffers from a mental illness that drains everyone in her family, has some mighty gifts. I just need to maybe focus on those instead of the other things.

There is so much that I do wrong as a mother and wife. I handle stress badly. Yet I allow stress into my life willingly, it seems. Being the sufferer of my own mental illness, specifically ADHD, I always have to have things busy. Even my relaxation has to be busy. I must be actively listening to something, actively watching something, actively doing something, or I go stir crazy. I cannot just sit and do nothing. So I cram all types of things into my life, and add more and more until I'm so stress with all the stuff crammed into my life. So many people tell me that they are amazed at how patient I am. They especially told me these things when my oldest two were young. I was always amazed that they would believe that. Still am, really. Whatever I felt like inside, something totally different was showing on the outside. I was never patient. And this wasn't a mask I put on. How do you put on a mask of patience? I never could. Another thing people tell me all the time is "I don't know how you do it." To me, that is just not helpful because so often I don't think I'm "doing" it very well. I "do it" by doing it poorly 90% of the time.

As you go about your day to day activities, take a minute or two and reflect on how you deal with those mentally ill people in your sphere of influence. Do you try to run away like I would want to? Do you look more like the friends who see the best in the person, and deal with the rest willingly? How do you feel about your responses to those people? What can you do to be there for the parents of the mentally ill? Leave your comments below. I'd like to hear from you.

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