By: Michele Viner, Vice Chair of MHED
I got involved in MHED as a mom. Simple as that. A mom who has watched her daughter live with bipolar disorder for the past six years, being diagnosed at the age of 15.
I am a mom who made a lot of mistakes along the way during those years, thinking that I could don my cape, jump in, and make everything better for my kid.
Isn’t that what moms do? If I could be happy, maybe I could help her be happy. If I smiled, maybe she would smile. Maybe if I did this or did that for her, she would be fine. Maybe I could just will away her diagnosis.
Of course, I could do none of the above.
Chances are, if you are a mom – or a dad, or an aunt, or a cousin or a bestie – or anyone who loves and supports someone who lives with mental illness, you have at some point donned your cape too. And you have done so, like me, with the best of intentions.
Let’s just fold them up and put them away, shall we?
Because at the end of the day, here’s what took me so long to learn. Not only is it impossible to be someone’s happy, you really don’t want to be. You want your kid or your loved one to be their own happy. Mental health challenges or not, we all need to learn how to wear our own capes in life to feel capable. Feeling capable allows us to feel less anxious and to know that we can achieve goals.
To support someone doesn’t mean you do everything for them. It means you encourage someone to know about their own personal power.
No capes required.
Michele Viner is Vice Chair of MHED, and is author of A Few Words About Mental Health, a self-published book about mental health through the eyes – and heart – of a parent.