BLOOM is talking to parents to learn about what they do to care for their mental health.
First up is Laura Meffen. Laura’s daughter Emily Kerr, 19, has NGLY1—a neurological condition in which people lack an enzyme that helps the body remove proteins that aren’t working properly. She has complex disabilities and health needs.
Back in 2003, when Emily was five, Laura wrote a BLOOM piece about walking into a hospital emergency, suicidal, and being admitted for a major depression. At the time, she wrote, she felt she ‘had to live up to that super-mother image…My self-worth was tied to maintaining that image of perfection and doing everything myself.’
This year Emily, almost 20, moved into a full-time residence called Participation House. Here’s what Laura says she’d tell another parent of a child with complex needs about mental health:
“You need to put your family first, as opposed to one child. A lot of anxiety comes from wanting to do everything possible for our child with disabilities. We get wrapped up in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and then we hear about a parent who’s doing this other therapy, and another parent who’s doing something different. You want to do everything, but you can’t. It’s impossible. And it’s okay to not do everything. It isn’t healthy, as a parent, to be focused on one child 24-7.