Kate McLaughlin, provides an open and honest insight into the challenges of raising children with Bipolar Disorder in her amazing book, “MOMMY I’M STILL IN HERE”.
McLaughlin began to use writing as a form of emotional release and healing, but eventually her writing turned into a motivating resource for parents trying to cope with their child’s disorder and its effects on their family.
I had the pleasure of talking and discussing the book with Kate. She is currently a mental health advocate, a member of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation. She also participates in NAMI’s Family-to-Family program.
What was it like for you, personally, to write this book?
Writing is cathartic for me.
It helped me process and purge a lot of self recrimination.
What was the biggest motivator to you to ‘keep it together’?
My biggest motivator to ‘keep it together’ was reflection on the times when I did not! I wanted to learn from my mistakes and avoid repeating them. As most mothers will vouch, my attitude often dictates the attitudes of those around me. My family needed to be uplifted and I was in the best position to do this, but don’t get me wrong, this experience has been a process of personal development. I got better at a lot of things…gentle assertiveness, patience, a calm demeanor, hopefulness, and a positive outlook…as time went on.
What has been you biggest “high point” in being a Mother?
My children’s abilities to live happily independent is the acme of my mothering experience. They developed the skills, confidence and levels of wellness to be who they are, doing what they choose. That’s successful parenting.
What was the hardest thing you had to come to grips with?
Within the perspective of MOMMY I’M STILL IN HERE and the time frame it covers, knowing that my kids’ illnesses were chronic, would never go away, was the hardest pill to swallow. I had to release lots of the unfulfilled expectations I’d created over my lifetime in order to accept the current, true, reality. But once that was done… happiness, hope and optimism returned.
More recently, I’ve worked hard to accept a truth that plagues a majority of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My son Michael is an addict. He cannot stay clean and sober despite numerous rehab, counseling, and detox programs. And the hard truth is, I cannot do this for him. He is solely in charge of this facet of his life. I‘m on a path to love him without condition, but sometimes I stray off that path and have to renegotiate the rough terrain.
What do you look forward to in the future?
I’m excited about advances in research and medical treatments that will provide the mentally ill with greater normalcy. I’m thrilled that the stigma surrounding serious mental illnesses is abating. People are finally learning that these illnesses are biologically driven, just like diabetes or cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy. And I look forward to the decades of experiences I will share with my husband and children and the people they love. We have a lot to look forward to and are greatly blessed.
This book covers the gauntlet of emotions. It has been a long time since I was so moved and touched by an author. It is definitely a book worth reading!!