There are numerous conversations this month regarding mental health. What is left out of those conversations are the daughters that were raised by mentally ill mothers. Particularly, within the Black community, many of our mentally ill mothers were not properly diagnosed or did not receive the services they needed out of fear and stigmas, but we knew that they were “different.”
Ranging from anxiety and narcissism to the more severe diagnoses such as schizophrenia many of these mothers remained without treatment. Although the children of these women are survivors, the past doesn’t leave them unscathed.
Here are some traits I’ve noted about daughters of mentally ill mothers:
- They are resilient. Because they had to become adults quickly and make adult decisions very early on, they are self-sufficient and not easily broken. They know how to survive and how to get things done.
- They are hypersensitive. They can keenly sense the emotions of others and may take positive or negative actions based on that knowledge.
- They internalize their feelings. Daughters of mentally ill mothers spend a lot of time in their heads thinking and overthinking. They analyze situations and conversations adding their own context that may or may not be true. It has become a coping skill for them that causes them more harm than good.
- They have trouble maintaining solid friendships with women. Because they may be harboring unresolved feelings towards their mother, they project those feelings onto other women. This harms their relationships.
- They struggle to find their identity. Sometimes going from one extreme to the other, they tend to find it difficult to find their place in this world. So, you may find them going from religion to atheism to agnostic and from celibacy to sexual freedom. These are attempts to discover who they are and where they fit.
I believe the issue with our society is that mental illness care is very reactive. People only seek services after a traumatic event. I believe that during the primary years, our schools should teach children positive coping skills and prepare them for life’s inevitable disappointing moments. I also believe that mental health preventative care should be a part of our overall health care plan which should include routine wellness exams. This is the only way that we can continue to eradicate the stigmas and improve our overall society.
Originally posted on Black Girl’s Guide to Healing Emotional Wound.