Motherhood provides a host of useful lessons on how to live with mental illness, and vice versa. Here are just a few things the two have in common (in my opinion, of course):

1. Five years into both of them, plastic surgery is your only way of looking young again.

2. There’s only one boss, and it’s best if that’s you.

3. In both, you have to handle a lot of crap.

4. Both require deep breathing.

5. Time Outs are encouraged–especially for Mom (psych wards stays count for this).

6. Both feel like you’re being pecked to death by a bird.

7. You must learn on the spot–pop quizzes are thrown at you every half-hour.

8. Both drive you insane (of course).

9. Both are full of surprises and force you to tear up any script you may have written (how things were supposed to go).

10. They require a support system, discipline, and a ton of self-control.

11. You have to get out of bed in the morning for both.

12. Bedtime often spells relief.

13. Both take a chunk out your heart but give it back to your soul.

14. You never graduate from or complete your responsibilities.

15. You get used to frozen dinners, canned soup, and spats with your spouse.

16. You must sort out tons of advice, much of it horribly shallow and not at all useful.

17. Both benefit from lots of sunshine and time at the park.

18. They are tolerated best with a sense of humor.

19. Both can make you fat if you’re not careful.

20. They are more challenging to the soul than the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. (I don’t think he was either.)

21. A bad day of either is more physically exhausting than an Olympic-distance triathlon.

22. After only a few years they transform you into a more compassionate and loving human being, possibly a candidate for a Nobel Peace Prize.

23. With them comes a lot of wisdom and patience, possibly world peace.

24. A love for your kid(s) keeps you going through both.

25. You have to strike that difficult balance between keeping busy but not too busy.

26. The mornings and evenings are typically the hardest.

27. Stress complicates thing. Best to avoid it as much as possible.

28. Comparing yourself to others will paralyze you.

29. There’s no going back.

30. Your best is all you have, and that’s good enough.


More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild wind can rage through your life leaving you much like the lyrics of a country song: without a wife, […]

When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate measures to control a mood disorder, that faithfulness and piety can disguise acute […]

One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from the drama queen at the water cooler). Why? Because we actually become […]

For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a third, stuff her full of refined sugar and processed foods, force her into social gatherings at […]