My Blended Family Won’t Blend!”: What to Do When Your Stepkids Disrespect You

Over the years, many parents in blended families have come to me to talk about the subject of disrespect. In some cases, their stepkids didn’t respect them, and in others, their biological child did not respect their new spouse. The truth is a child may never respect his stepparent, but he does have to know that he can’t get away with being rude or obnoxious to them. The only way to achieve the desired behavior is to be certain you and your spouse are united in making sure that your kids treat you with respect.

The child may never get over the loss of his mother or father…but there’s nothing you as a stepparent can do about that besides accept it and avoid getting into fights about it.

Lay Down the Ground Rules from the Start

If you haven’t done so already, sit down with the kids in your blended family and lay out some ground rules. Start by saying, “In our family now, this is what a parent is.” And, “In our family now, these are the expectations on every child.” I recommend that you tell your stepkids from the beginning, “You don’t have to call me Mommy, but you have to be respectful and follow my directions.” And both adults need to do this with all the children in the family.

What if Your Stepkids Disrespect You?

Naturally, stepparents become very upset when their stepchildren are disrespectful to them. I’ve had parents come to me in difficult situations where the kids were really being rude or obnoxious, saying things like, “You’re not my father, I don’t have to listen to you!” Let me be clear: parents have to be careful, because once that kind of behavior gets entrenched, it’s very difficult to stop. By being rude, kids protect themselves—and they train adults what not to ask of them and what not to expect of them.

The answer here is that you and your partner have to decide ahead of time how the kids in the family will talk to each parent. You set the expectations together, and then you remain consistent; you hold each child accountable.

Here’s an example. If one of your stepkids says, “You’re not my mom; I don’t have to do what you say!” You can say, “No, I’m not your mother, but you have to do your homework anyway.” Or, “We’re not talking about me being your father. We’re talking about when you’re going to start your homework.”

Now, the consequences for that kind of behavior should be swift and clear. The kids in the family should know that if they disrespect their stepmother or stepfather, they will lose their cell phone privileges for the rest of the night, for example. In other words, there should be no tolerance for that kind of disrespect. When it comes down to it, both adults work hard for the family, both adults are struggling, both adults are making sacrifices—so the rule is that the kids have to treat them both with respect. They don’t have to call them Mom or Dad unless they want to, but they have to be respectful.

Don’t try to read your stepchild’s mind

Know that as a parent or stepparent, you cannot read your stepchild’s mind. In other words, if this child doesn’t like you telling him what to do but he does it anyway, don’t challenge him on what he’s thinking. Don’t worry if he’s giving you “that look.” When you tell him to go do his chores, if he does them whether he likes it or not, that should be enough. So, don’t try to read kids’ minds to determine if they really don’t want to do something, or if they really don’t like you. You have to let that go until everybody gets to know each other.

Here’s the bottom line: if you carry yourself with respect, kids will find things to like about you. This is because kids want to like people that they respect. Know that he or she may never get over the loss of his mother or father, or that of his original family. But there’s nothing you as a stepparent can do about that besides accept it and avoid getting into fights about it.

When You’re Parenting, They’re All Your Kids

Some parents wonder how they can be fair while still maintaining the trust of their biological child. Know that it’s natural to feel a stronger connection to your own child, a special love for and commitment to them.

But in a blended family, you have to keep those thoughts in a separate compartment from parenting. Understand that when you’re parenting, they’re all your kids. And believe me, they’re all watching the way you behave yourself, the kind of role model you are, and the kinds of things you do. So when the kids are acting out and the television is taken away for the evening as a consequence, it’s not taken from the biological kids or the non-biological kids—you don’t get into those distinctions. It’s taken away from all the kids. And so it also becomes, “When we’re going to the zoo, we’re all going to the zoo—the whole family.” Or “When we’re watching a movie, we’re all watching a movie.”

You’ll always feel that special connection with your biological child, don’t get me wrong. But part of the thing that you’ll struggle with, sometimes every day, is that you have to treat these kids the same. Don’t worry that you will lose that connection with your biological kid by doing so—that will never happen. There may be anger, there may be disappointment, there may be separation, but that connection is there by nature.

When Your Child Challenges You

Often in blended families, it’s very common for the biological kids to challenge their birth parents. They’ll accuse them of being unfair, or say things like, “You’re treating them better than me.” Or, “He treats his kids better than you treat us.” And you might also hear, “He treats his kids better than he treats us.” And parents have to work very closely together to solve those problems.

When your child comes to you and says something unfair happened, the kind of question you have to ask is, “If I was there, what would I have seen?” So, let’s say your child says, “Today she treated her kids better than us.” The question you have to ask is not, “How did you feel,” or “What happened,” because those things get distorted. Rather, parents should be asking the investigative question: “If I was there, what would I have seen?”

Let’s say the answer is, “You would have seen her give three cookies to her kids and two cookies to us.” That’s something they can see, not what they felt. So find out what they saw, what they heard, what was done. That’s the most effective way to investigate these kinds of statements. That’s also one of my key questions when parents tell me their kids are acting out at home. One of the things I used to ask them in my office was, “If I was there, what would I have seen?” And then they’ll say, “You’d have seen my son punching a hole in the wall and threatening his sister and calling his brother names.” I want to know what I would have seen there because that’s how I can investigate what they need to do differently.

So again, you’re asking for facts now. It’s the parent’s job to say, “Okay, I’ll look into it,” and then talk to the other parent in private.

Structure Time to Do Things Together: Establish a “Family Day”

If you want to come together as a family, I think you have to make rules about doing things together. So you can make the rule, “On Wednesday nights we all watch a video.” This rule is in place whether the kids like it or not. Let them know that if they refuse to watch the video, then they will lose their electronics for the rest of the night. But the deal is, “We all watch a video. We all go to the zoo. We all go to the beach. We all go to the park.” Don’t overdo it, especially with teenagers. But doing one activity as a family per week, not including church, can be helpful in this kind of situation. Sit together in the living room eating popcorn and watching a DVD. Or go to the park together, go to the beach and find seashells. Whatever it is, find one thing a week to do together.

By the way, I say don’t overdo it with teens because developmentally, their job is to start to break away. So we just want them to participate without being abusive, disrespectful or nasty. If one of your kids is 17 and doesn’t want to go along, let them bring a friend. But the rule is, “You’re going with us.”

Instituting a family day gives kids the message that “This is important to us, and it’s so important we’re going to make it happen.” They learn that you do things as a family and that you respect each other when you’re doing them. With younger kids, having a night where you just play board games is really fun. Older kids may resist it at first, but younger kids will love it. If you start when they’re small, that becomes part of their expectations for family night—and it also becomes their way of understanding how families operate.

Empower the Children in Your Family to Express Themselves

One last word about kids: children have to be empowered to express what they feel and think, and those thoughts and feelings have to be accepted at face value. When two adults decide to blend their families, kids have no choice. They can feel powerless, threatened and overwhelmed. The idea is to give them appropriate ways to express themselves so they don’t have to act out their feelings behaviorally. This doesn’t mean they get to make decisions about how the family will run, but they should certainly have input in an appropriate way.

This input is usually best received by the child’s birth parent. If you try to do a family meeting without getting the input first, it’s very likely that people will get defensive or feel threatened. But if birth parents can talk to their kids about their concerns, it is much easier to work them out, and it’s much easier for the two adults to come to an agreement. So the idea is not to squelch kids, the idea is to set up a situation where they can express their feelings safely and appropriately.

Remember, no rule or situation has to last forever. Before you put any new plan into place, I recommend that you sit down with your kids and ask these questions:

• How will we know this is working?

• How will we know something isn’t working?

• What will we do if something works?

• What will we do if something doesn’t work?

If you analyze the decisions you make this way, you’ll always have the ability to measure if you’re accomplishing what you sought to do, as well as change what you’re doing if necessary.

One of the key things that a blended family needs is two adults who are mature; you’ve really got to grow up as a parent. It’s hard to see your stepchild when they come back from a holiday with their other set of parents, and they have better presents than you gave them, or when they’re bragging about the things they did together—or when they’re sad about the things they used to do before their original family split up. But you’ve got to be able to handle that. Without a doubt you may have feelings about it, but you have to have mature ways of dealing with those emotions. So, if you’re hurt or frustrated—and it’s normal and human to be hurt, frustrated and confused in this situation—you need to be able to talk to your partner or call your friends. If you need professional help, go to a counselor. The main thing is, you need to be able to work toward accepting the situation and not trying to control it. It’s not that you shouldn’t feel things—it’s the way you deal with the things you feel that is important.

SmartBeat

Have you experienced the new mom insomnia? You’re not alone.

SmartBeat is about to relieve that.

FINALLY, our child has detached from our hip and we’ve got a monitor to rely on so us Mom’s can have faith and get some much needed work down around the house we’ve so desperately intended too.

SmartBeat offer superior features, image clarity (day and night vision), convenience, reliability, safety, signal range, and versatility.

I was fortunate enough to receive this monitor with this being my first baby. We originally had purchased a monitor when we brought him home from the hospital; however when SmartBeat sent us their product we quickly fell in love!

I can’t even begin to explain how many sleepless nights I endured in order to make sure my baby’s chest was rising and falling– what is it about being a parent that causes us to go insane like that? I would try to tell myself throughout the night that he was fine however until I saw it for myself, I wouldn’t have the option to rest.

It’s quite cool to see the Smartbeat in real life, it makes you grateful for innovation these days, that is without a doubt. I love that it doesn’t have any clasps, sleeping pad sensors, sock sensors – I don’t understand why anyone would want to put a metal sock on their child? Sounds uncomfortable for an adult let alone a baby. That’s why we opted out when looking at the Owelette. It does practically everything for you, so you don’t need to stress over a thing.

Among its various features, my personal favorite is that it closely tracks your baby’s breathing without sensors in the crib or on your baby, any cords or devices, it closely monitors your child and records their breathing pattern. Now sure, this may seem like “big brother,” and some may argue is a little over the top but as a first time Mom, especially with a preemie, I prefer to have that small piece of mind.

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Maggiano’s! My Personal Little Italy

Love, love, love this place!

I have to start by talking about the restaurant itself as a whole being one of my favorites. The atmosphere is truly family oriented. I have been to many Maggiano locations, but this one is by far my favorite!

The service here is incredible. I was greeted by the host staff immediately upon walking in. I believe the girl mentioned her name to be Cici. Reminds me of a childhood favorite pizza spot, so I was already enjoying talking to her. They had a bit of a wait that evening, but I wasn’t surprised because of how popular they are. The hostess assured me that I would be seated shortly, and offered a spot near the bar at high tops or the bar itself to grab a glass of wine while I waited. I really liked this offer because in my opinion she did a great job of comforting our group since we had a bit of a wait but kept us involved by recommending starting with a drink. She made sure to check in with us and kept us laughing till a table became available. That definitely made the wait seem much shorter, and we were seated before we knew it.

Once seated our wait staff was wonderful! Very attentive and kept making sure our water was full and our food was out in a timely fashion. The food was incredible per usual, and I love their portion sizes. They always have amazing deals going on and the take home options are the greatest.

I don’t even know where to begin about the food. It’s so delicious and the kitchen staff cooks to perfection. I have basically had everything on their menu, since I am a major food connoisseur. My favorite would have to be the Spaghetti & Meatball and Chef KB’s Lobster Carbonara (when I used to be able to eat seafood).

I have never utilized them for banquet services, but I sure plan to for my gender reveal and baby shower!!

Photo of Maggiano's Little Italy - Skokie, IL, United States. Spaghetti with meat sauce and meatballs.
Photo of Maggiano's Little Italy - Skokie, IL, United States. Maggiano's is a great place for lunch, brunch, cocktails, and celebrations!

Photo of Maggiano's Little Italy - Skokie, IL, United States. lobster carbonara

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Moretti’s I’m Sad to Say Goodbye

I hate having to say goodbye to one of my most favorite restaurants! I was probably the happiest person to have Moretti’s open in Morton Grove. It’s been a spot I have been coming to since opening day with my friends. It’s become a local hangout spot for us. We watch all our games here, enjoy evenings out on the patio, and I was even planning to use them for my gender reveal, baby shower, and large scale events through the University I work for. However, all of that has changed due to a particular staff member. Unfortunately, this staff member decided to personally attack me verbally after work hours through facebook. She brought in her personal opinion on my pregnancy and what I eat/drink at Moretti’s.

This was quite upsetting for me due to the fact that I am a well educated person who has several degrees, & I have the best doctors and medical professionals through my health insurance. I am in amazing health as is my baby. I enjoy Moretti’s because their food is not only delicious but their banquets seemed like the perfect fit for me. I have at least spent over a couple hundred to a thousand dollars in service here.

My doctor said it was perfectly safe for me to have a non alcoholic beer along with my food at this restaurant/bar with my friends because I am free to live my life. I am pregnant, not in jail. In no way would I ever dream of harming my child and this waitress assumed the worst and belittled me, as well as harassed me for days. She made claims that DCFS would take my child, that I am a bad soon to be mother, and many more allegations that were untrue.

I heard that during pregnancy everyone will weigh in their opinions; however, I never believed it would be to this extent!!

I do not like to call out staff members by name, but Sara Dolan caused quite a stressful experience for me at Moretti’s (especially during my pregnancy) and although I had a chance to speak with management and they assured me it would not continue, it did continue. She continued to message and harass me even when I was not responding to any of her messages or comments.I was also made aware by her that an upper management manager (Gary) ignored my complaint and supposedly, “He really doesn’t care” I have never felt more upset by an establishment.

I have to say, I will not be returning there and I hope people, especially expecting Mothers, take their business to more respectable places such as Maggiano’s or other restaurants that can accommodate woman who are pregnant and not make them feel as though they are a bad person for enjoying some food with their friends over a Bears or Cubs game. I feel extremely sad for this establishment, seeing as this is how employees treat well paying customers.

It’s a sad day for me to say my goodbyes! Take care my old friend, and if staff changes I hope to return one day.

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“Each of us can make a difference. But TOGETHER we can make a change”.

Recently a lot of people have gotten into the series “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix. This series displays a vast majority of mental health issues that teenagers face in their many growing years.

When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with a mental health condition. I suffer from severe depression. I have practiced self-care for many years along with therapy, to help alleviate my episodes of sadness, and writing was one of those tools. Writing has become a necessity for me, and proved to be an invaluable way to lessen my anxiety and to help with managing my depression.

Kate Spade’s recent passing has started an uproar of awareness regarding suicide that was no where to be seen before. No one was aware she was suffering from mental illness the same as Robin Williams. Why is it still such a taboo to speak out on mental health when it’s very real?

I’ll tell you why, because in today’s society we have found it to be more acceptable to discuss visually noticeable diseases and traumas. The brain cannot be seen; therefore, goes unnoticed. However, everything happening to us, each thought we have, each emotion we face, all comes from the chemicals and hormones our mind releases. This is how our brain controls the messages it relays.

I recently spent a couple of days in the hospital in a psych unit where I was able to purely witness things from a journalistic capacity. I felt like I was ripped out of my normal environment and placed in an episode of American Horror Story Asylum. People had real illnesses and it made me shift the lens from which I viewed even my own mental illness. Although not as severe as many others, people battling mental health rarely ever become completely aware of it. There is still a part of us that wants to believe we are perfectly healthy, because of the stigma.

Until this stigma is removed from “mental illness”, and our current society truly, genuinely accepts it as an illness.. those suffering from these illnesses will continue to hide their condition(s).

Depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anorexia, substance abuse, anxiety, borderline etc. are just a few very common mental health disorders. They feed the mind messages that are not true. Our mind will send mixed signals sometimes. We start to become fearful of daily activities or things that we should not be fearful of. Our mind begins to set in this feeling that we are not good enough or don’t deserve to live because our mind feels as if things won’t get better.

Our brain is a tricky beast. It will have you convinced that everyone is out to get you, looking at you, and/or judging you. And sadly, the last sentence comes with TRUTH! People do judge those with mental illness!

Yet would you judge someone with a visually acceptable disease such as heart issues, or cancer? Or would you tell them to just “get over it?” As though people suffering from mental ILLNESS could somehow just wish it away? Don’t you think we would if we could?!

These mental illnesses may impact us daily, but I’ll let you know they won’t ever define us! We are daily survivors who fight a battle no one will ever be able to see. “Each of us can make a difference. But TOGETHER we can make a change”.

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The Truth About Starting Over After Divorce In Your 20’s

Help, I lost myself again. Almost divorced at 27, I shamefully turn out to be the statistic I fought so hard not to be. I have looked through blogs, articles, and pretty much anything that would help me make sense of how I am feeling. I was starting to become desperate, with no luck. So I figured why not, set the trend, maybe it’ll help others who end up in my situation.

To be painfully honest, it is going to be extremely heartbreaking. I have felt like a failure for many months now at a time. It continues to hit me in the form of waves. Even when I wouldn’t feel sad about the act of divorce itself, I knew I had the right to mourn the loss of my eternal future.

In the beginning people who knew looked at me with nothing but pity, paranoia, and all of the above. The whispers were getting louder and clearer and then came the social media unfollowing. These actions are just some of the things you encounter, learn, and begin to tolerate when going through divorce… even if the divorce is amicable.

In the United States, about 50% of marriages end in divorce.

Just breathe that in for a minute.

In thinking about life, imagine you thinking that you are starting your life at 25, trying to enjoy your husband, get pregnant in your marriage, all while focusing on the new life you started because that would mean the world to you… but honestly should you have to “try”? It should come pretty naturally and it didn’t for us. It felt more so like we were stuck. My words of advice? Move on.

Backstory:

I knew the night of  my wedding that I would end up divorced. If you even have an inkling of that feeling, trust me and save yourself a lot of heartache and headache. My husband and I were relatively young but most certainly in love. The day and night of our wedding we danced, drank, and enjoyed ourselves with our families and friends who were in from out of town. Shortly after I knew for sure it wasn’t what I was meant to be doing. However- I stuck through it. I saw my husband get visibly upset the night of our wedding due to his groomsmen all arguing with significant others, not being attentive to bridal party pictures, and much more. Which in turn began upsetting me. People were visibly TOO drunk, not that it should matter at a wedding, but these people were becoming belligerent, rude, and sloppy. I saw myself growing angrier and angrier along with my husband. He began taking his frustration out on me during the wedding, as well as once we were settled in our hotel.

That night should have been the most special night of my life, but it felt like a complete disaster internally. I cried myself to sleep that night and woke up to find my husband still on the couch in another room. We had fought the night of our wedding about our toxic friends and him being extremely drunk went to sleep without me.

It was the morning of our brunch, and I knew I had obligations to fulfill. So I got up, took a shower, woke him up – still incoherent partly, got us both ready. I ignored the previous day/night (again which should have been the most special day of my life) and left to meet our families for brunch.

It was comforting to see my parents there and smiling. This made it relatively easier and made me feel as though last night was just another bad night. I pushed past the feeling from our wedding day/night and enjoyed brunch with ONLY family and family friends. That’s when I began realizing the issues were not us or our families, it was our friends. We each had a group of people in our lives who were not taking our relationship or marriage seriously. They were all either single, dating casually, or not quite ready for that next step. Which made it difficult to get them to feel serious about the MOST important day of our lives. They were all pretty selfish and caused a lot of pain to my husband and I unknowingly.

This made me start to resent them more than I already did due to previous painful encounters both him and I were put through. As we left for our honeymoon the following day, I was feeling much better. I was starting to see a glimpse of what married life is really like. I was growing happier by the minute knowing we were leaving Chicago for a week. On our honeymoon things were great. We rarely had any arguments until we returned home. This is when I knew it was safe to say, it was the people in our lives, because I encountered more pain than ever before caused by his friends.

Almost a year into our marriage, I was still being mistreated by certain females that were friends with my husband or dating their friends. I was made out to be delusional but in reality the truth unfolded on its own once we separated. My husband stood by me like a rock once we were married, and tried very hard for them to not mistreat me, but things had gone too far by 4th of July. I genuinely helped his friends throw a party at their home, to find myself becoming the issue because one of the females in the group was upset, bad mouthing me behind my back, but also accusing me of mistreating her when that was not the case. I was keeping my distance from toxic people (such as her) and that turned me into the wrong doer somehow. I was almost always blamed for things I did not do or act on.

6 years of roller coaster emotions, screaming matches, horrible communications, more tears than I’ve ever had in my life, I made the scary decision to leave my husband. I felt that we both have stable careers, and can start over. For the record- it really WAS like a light switch– when you know it’s over, you know, DON’T question your gut. Your gut is NEVER wrong. You deserve to feel loved. You deserve more than being ignored, or mistreated by your significant others friends.

Now- let me be clear, the gruesome and painful details of what happened in my marriage will remain in my marriage. That was what we agreed upon during our separation. Plus my husband is an extremely amazing guy!! I have nothing but love for him, and I would never bash him to anyone. However, between the two of us, there were issues that could not be fixed. Once the communication, trust and love is gone.. there’s nothing left to fix in my opinion.

Once you begin to feel this way, or have been through this, you should not be afraid.

Moving On:

Getting an apartment on my own was extremely terrifying the following year. I was going backwards in life. Having individual responsibilities such as bills, food, going out to learn who you are in your new life is all going to feel daunting. These things are all expensive, but every penny is worth it. I lived off of $100 a week for months, and while it was tiresome, nobody was in my space making me wonder if I was loved or not. Finances were tight, but my best friend was supportive, and that’s all that I needed.

Once you learn who you are, you find the best part of your life. If I had taken the time to do this soul searching earlier, I could have avoided all the pain I felt during my marriage and relationship for so many years. I questioned every group outing with his friends because I was fearful of what encounter I would face. I began to wonder if the person on the other end making me look/feel bad is going to attempt to take my husband and stability away from me. Many times I ran into other women being disrespectful of my marriage. You know who you are, all of you. Shame on you… but I guess I also owe you the biggest thank you in my life. You gave me my freedom back. You gave me the key to happiness. So even though you’re sucky people, thanks. 

Post-divorce or separation you learn some of the biggest lessons in your life. You may have made the decision that you deserve better. If so, you are on a roll! No one will stick up for you the way you will stick up for yourself. Speak out when you are feeling certain ways, tell yourself and people around you that you are better than this.. even if it’s hard to quite believe at the moment. You will eventually be ok!

People ask, what comes next? Learning how to love yourself and date again. Dating, the most daunting of tasks you have to embark on. You’ve been in a committed relationship for many years, and you didn’t have to worry about things like shaving your legs or someone judging you, or being home alone. You were comfortable with these things and so was your significant other.

Whereas, dating is just plain hard! You have to just pick someone and decide whether or not you two are compatible. It’s definitely the most awkward thing ever. It shouldn’t seem so foreign since that is how you got your husband in the first place, but it becomes a completely foreign concept. You will find yourself spending hours having sometimes what’s considered a pointless conversations with this date over Mexican food to find out this might not be what you were looking for. Or you find a pretty decent guy who ends up selling pot out of your kitchen, forms sentences that he thinks sounds smart but don’t make sense, and is high 99% of his awake time. Dating is plain ugly! It’s not always sweet and romantic, it’s awkward, lots of times uncomfortable, but sometimes it can be gratifying.

When you find the person that you decide to date, good for you.. they’re not paying your bills, so who cares?

Dating someone post-divorce is hard. You constantly have doubts, question every decision you make, and even if you don’t want to admit it… it’s always on your mind that he or she may betray you like you’ve been betrayed before. You’re not alone though. What you can’t do is act upon it. Learning to trust your judgement and your new partner is a scary process. Scarier than you’ll ever let them know, and I think that’s a little normal. Just don’t allow your insecurities to project on your new partner. He’s not your ex (for a reason). ALLOW YOURSELF TO BELIEVE YOU DESERVE TO BE LOVED.

In terms of losing friends.. you need to be prepared for that. People will pick sides, talking about what you’re doing to your ex, rumors as if there weren’t some there to begin with and much more. You will end up losing more friends than you thought you would. It will hurt, but if they don’t want to stick around, it’s their loss. This part of life is inevitable, unfortunately. Go through your friends list and cut ties with anyone you question. People will not like it, but this is your new life.. YOU have control.

Want to know the TRUTH about starting over after divorce in your 20’s? You need to look past the pity and pointed fingers. Know you WILL get through this, be grateful that you got a second chance to live your life the way you want to. Even though it isn’t what you planned, be a little thankful that at least you got to cut ties with the toxic people that faked liking you the whole time. They were really awful anyways. Find a healthy way to vent it out, and put one foot in front of the other and start taking steps. You’re not the first or last person to go through this. Your heart will mend, and I promise you will be okay!

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Shhh.

WHY DO WE FIND IT SO HARD TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH?

Hello,

There’s a question I ask myself nearly every day and there are so many ways in which it could actually be answered …

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Why do we find it so hard to talk about Mental Health, when 1 in 4 people will be affected at some point in their life and around 450 million currently suffering?

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I know when I was in school/college, mental health was not something that was discussed openly, which is one of the reasons I didn’t tell anyone sooner.  I was young so I didn’t really understand what mental health was. I didn’t know the thoughts and feelings that I was having/experiencing would turn out being a mental health diagnosis.

So why don’t we speak out?

Lack of Help

We all know that when there is physically something wrong with someone when they are the priority and in most ways, I can see why patients who suffer from a mental health illness should not get neglected due to this and unfortunately some do. 

There are people who are meant to be there specifically to help, like doctors for example, but I don’t have the best experience with doctors and my mental health after I turned 18 but that post is yet to come! I don’t believe we have enough help and support being offered for Mental Health nowadays.

My family has always been supportive, since the day I finally spoke openly about it. Although they’re not specifically trained or the most knowledgeable in the subject (unless you have a mental health professional in your family), so the main thing family can offer is support, which believe me is much appreciated! 

Lack of Understanding

I don’t believe that anyone really understands mental health, there are so many ways it can affect different people.

No two people suffer the same!

 You can always try to understand by listening, but I think unless you’re educated in the field or have experienced a mental health illness in one way or the other you may struggle to understand & that’s more than okay because if you lend your ear and take the time to listen it will be appreciated that you dedicated your time.

This is what I believe health care professionals are missing. They may have the medical knowledge of Mental Health but they don’t care about you, as they would their own family or friends.

People suffering are also some of those included when talking about ‘understanding’ mental health. I didn’t have a clue when it first started happening, even to this day, after battling my mental health for around 10 or more years, I still struggle to explain what I’m feeling, how it happens and what it means. This is why we need further education on the subject.

Independence

 I don’t know if this one is as big of a reason as the rest, but I believe this is something that I felt when I had just started experiencing my mental health symptoms. 

You know when you’re young and you think you don’t need anything or anyone? You think you’re finally becoming confident & mature on your own? … but then your body takes a different route.

That’s what happened to me and probably many other people, it doesn’t even have to happen when you’re young. No matter what your age, you want to be independent and conquer things on your own but sometimes this isn’t the best way.

There is no shame in needing help! If you take anything from this post, please, if you’re suffering in silence, ask for help.

It took me 8 years to finally talk to someone about what was happening because I thought I could deal with it by myself but I was so wrong!

Embarrassment/Fear

I think these two fit perfectly under the same umbrella here because they’re both fairly similar. My mental health is pretty much an open book nowadays but in the past, I have been so embarrassed by it, especially my self-harm scars but that is something I have learned to love. I call them my war wounds, as I continue to fight it and stay strong.

No one knows exactly how someone will react to anything so it can be really scary talking about it for the first time … & many times after actually.

You may be scared what people think and whether they will treat you differently – Most people have been supportive of me throughout this part of my life but I’ve also had a select few people who have decided they ‘didn’t want to continue being my friend, until I had gotten over it’ safe to say that I cut them out of my life! 

Make sure to put your health first and stay strong!

Stay Weird …

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