This is for the Child Life Nurse I recently met at Texas Children’s Hospital and for all the other Mental Health Moms who wish they could make the outside world understand how they feel but are afraid to use their voice…
She is fierce.
She is fragile.
She laughs on the outside.
She cries on the inside.
She has one face for the world.
She has another for her true self.
She wants to be strong.
She often breaks down.
She yearns to be included.
She is often alone.
She feels like two different people.
She asks herself why.
She is every mental health mom.
The epic struggle between good and evil comes to life in Robert Louis Stevenson’s world-renowned book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It also comes to life every day for her, the Mental Health Mom.
This mom is like no other. Her world exists behind a mask of Jekyll-and-Hyde sorts. She smiles and comes across put-together on the outside, and cries and falls apart on the inside.
Dr. Jekyll plays his part to perfection. The outside world buys into the persona he sells.
For her, she sells the mask she wears at the grocery store, PTO meetings, and church socials.
She is afraid for outsiders to see the mom behind the mask. She embraces her normal but fears others will not.
She presents strength and unwavering resolve when everyone is watching. She allows weakness and vulnerability only when no one is watching.
She relates to all other moms, and to no other moms, at the same time.
In the story, Dr. Jekyll tries to create a chemical potion to separate the two sides of himself (good and evil) and suppress his dark, murderous side known as Mr. Hyde.
She too works relentlessly to find the right combination of medications, therapies, and natural remedies to suppress the dark mental illness living inside the innocent child she brought into this world. This illness is as wicked as it gets. She wants nothing more than to see the shadow fade from her child’s eyes and the light to shine again. She knows, every day when she wakes up, she will begin the fight to suppress this malevolence all over again.
As if this wasn’t enough, there is another iniquity she must fight.
She may not be battling a vicious murderer within as Jekyll does, but she is battling inner demons equally as challenging to her moral compass.
She is silently saying to herself, “Why is this happening to me? I just want to give up. There is no hope. If I had known then what I know now, I may have chosen not to have children. Placing my child in inpatient would give me a break. Our child’s illness might tear my marriage apart. I should homeschool but know I couldn’t handle it. I hope nobody ever sees what my life is really like behind closed doors. I love my child all of the time. I hate my loathsome life some of the time.”
The guilt she feels when these Hyde-like feelings arise is utterly unbearable. She longs to bring rational Jekyll back into her thoughts many times throughout her day.
Like Jekyll, there are days this Mental Health Mom feels like she is losing her mind. She is sleep deprived, anxious, depressed, and overwhelmed. Like Jekyll, she spends every free moment inside her own head, worried and terrified about her (child’s) future.
She does not commit crimes against humanity; she commits crimes against herself. Putting everyone in her world first and allowing little to no time taking care of self.
Even on the good days, the happy days, the normal days, the darkness still lingers inside. Jekyll felt beyond help, beyond forgiveness, and so does she.
No matter what she admits out loud to others, she has questioned her sanity when no one is listening. She wrestles to keep Hyde from taking over her life. She strives to keep hope alive.
Dr. Jekyll prays for serenity and peace at the end and so does she. Every minute of every day, so does she…