If you are reading this post, I want to give you a hug. Whether your child has had an issue since birth or has just been diagnosed with a disorder, it can be such a scary experience. It is very unnerving how your whole life can change in an instant. At the end of the day, you are still a parent. Your kids need you – so you have to find ways to cope when your child has a medical issue.
My daughter was diagnosed with a seizure disorder about two years ago. Her first prolonged grand mal seizure was the scariest, worst day of my life. I thought I lost her that night and it was a feeling I can never forget. Even now two years later, we don’t know what the future holds for her and for us. It is overwhelming and I constantly wonder if I am doing the right thing.
I decided to write this post just to help other parents who may find themselves in a similar situation. There are times where I feel so alone, like there isn’t a person on Earth who understands how I feel. You may be going through so many different emotions and I completely understand. Even as I write this I am at work worrying about my daughter who is home with her Dad.
I think the most overwhelming part for me is the amount of anxiety that came with her disorder. I was/am still constantly worried about so many things. It really can be overwhelming to the point that you shut down completely. You worry about their health, the appointments, the expenses related to that, medications, work, their school – so many things! You feel like everyone else is living their life, complaining about the dumbest stuff while you are so worried about life altering things. It can make you feel alone surrounded by a sea of people who don’t understand what you are dealing with. I sometimes struggle with the range of emotions I feel about how this diagnosis has changed our lives.
As many moms who have a child with a medical condition, I had to find out what worked for me to help relieve some of that stress and anxiety. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are there for your child (and other children if you have them) as well. What works for you may not work for someone else, but the goal is to find something that makes a difference for you and your life. Sometimes self-care is really not feasible. Self preservation is sometimes the more likely scenario and that is ok!
Here are 8 ways to cope when your child has a medical issue:
- Write in a personal journal – This helps so much. It really helps get your stress and anxieties out of your mind and somewhere else. When you are further along in your journey it can help as well just to look back and see how things have changed.
- Join a support group – Look up a group that is specific to your child’s condition, even if you have to join one online, it does help to see other parents going through the same thing.
- Talk to your doctor – Anxiety and depression are real things. It can be very easy to fall into a deep depression when you are dealing with things. Your anxiety can understandably be out of control. If you feel like you need therapy or medication – don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. Your mental health is a priority too.
- Limit your internet research – This one was tough for me. I immediately jumped on the internet and started researching seizure disorders and what would happen with this or that. I ended up in tears many, many times. There are many different stories out there. Try to stick to reputable medical sites and even then, limit the research to medical advice. It will drive you crazy. Although it is nice to find someone who has experience with what you are dealing with, try not to compare your situation to anyone else’s. It is important to know your medical and treatment options, but don’t scare yourself or give yourself false hope.
- Do something fun once in a while – If possible try to get out by yourself. If you can only get out with the kids try and do something fun and different to get your mind off of things. I try to get to the Beach whenever possible, even though my kids aren’t thrilled about it. For me I just need to be somewhere like that to breathe and relax. Sometimes you need to just get your mind off everything and remind yourself and your other kids that things are OK and being happy is important too.
- Start a gratitude journal. When your world is getting more stressful, it is helpful to focus on the positive. The whole act of just thinking of something happy and writing it down can be therapeutic. Plus it take your mind off the negative things that are happening and helps you focus on the positive.
- Give yourself a break. Its hard when you are stressed and have a million things going on to actually forgive yourself. The really hard part is even if you have a child with a sickness, or a medical condition- the world doesn’t stop. You have bills to pay, other children to tend to, and other personal obligations. Some days all you can do is barely get by and that’s fine. Tomorrow is a new day and you are stronger everyday that you wake up to face another day.
- Find (healthy) ways to escape. Do something that you like that works for you. If you have to wait a lot (at appointments etc), download an app/eBook that can help get your mind off it. Get a massage, exercise, meditate, start a TV series on Netflix, make yourself a cup of tea, create mood boards on Pinterest, anything you can do to help get your mind off everything and relax.
Whatever you do just remember you’re not alone. Although this is a tough time, try to focus on the positive. Give yourself a break and enjoy that little one, mama. Some days all you can do is get by- and that’s ok!! You are not alone!