SMM 025: Mothering a Child with Mental Illness || Amanda Louder

Today’s topic of raising a child with mental illness is one I have wanted to talk more about for a while. I have reached out to a few people to share their experiences, however it hasn’t been right for them to tell their stories. Fortunately, Amanda Louder answered my prayers by reaching out to me to share her experience raising a child with a mental illness.

Show Recap

Amanda is a wife of 6 years to her husband and together they are blending a family of five children ranging in age from 19-10. In her years as a mother, she has learned to let go of control and enjoys seeing her children learning who they truly are.

Amanda and I dive in and talk about the challenges she has faced since her 16-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Bipolar II at the age of 8. She explains what this diagnosis means and how it affects her daughter and her family in their day-to-day life.

Mental illness and especially a child with mental illness can have a negative stigma in our society. Amanda talks about how the specific things she has done to educate people around her, advocate for her daughter and teach her daughter to advocate for herself.

If you are struggling with a child with mental illness, Amanda gives practical first steps you can take to help your child.

Amanda has been able to turn to God to help her with this mothering challenge. She has found that reading the Book of Mormon everyday has brought her peace. Amanda recognizes that reading the scriptures daily hasn’t taken the challenges away but rather given her the tools she needs to deal with the trials.

She also shares how she has used the atonement of Jesus Christ to help her as a mother. Amanda recognizes the many ways God has guided her, put people in her path and answered her prayers.

At the end of this episode, I have a bonus for you. Amanda talks about what she shares on her own podcast, Live from Love, about marriage, divorce and relationships. Her podcast has great content for anyone but especially for those struggling in marriage.

How to Listen

Listen to the podcast below or on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or Sound Cloud.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave a review.

Show Notes

Follow Amanda:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/amandaloudercoaching/
Website: amandalouder.com
Podcast: Live From Love

Follow Spiritually Minded Mom:

Instagram: Instagram.com/spirituallymindedmom
Facebook: facebook.com/spirituallymindedmom
Podcast: Spiritually Minded Mom on iTunes

More Spiritually Minded Mom Podcast episodes that deal with mental illness:

Episode 1: Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Mom Podcast (My story of helping my son who was diagnosed with anxiety.)
Episode 10: Being Open About Mental Illness in Motherhood + When You Don’t Know if God is Your Partner || Ally Hayward

SMM 022: Accepting God’s Plan + Overcoming Feeling Unworthy Before God || Reagan Ogle

Episode 22 of The Spiritually Minded Mom podcast is my interview with Reagan Ogle. I came across Reagan’s podcast, The Luckiest Mom, when I was doing research to start my podcast.  Reagan knows about accepting God’s plan for her life. She believes one of the greatest challenges of motherhood is overcoming feeling unworthy before God because it keeps mothers from connecting with Him.  She is relatable, a full of light and a huge advocate for motherhood. I know you are going to love the things she shares in this interview.

In the interview we dive in and talk about what a perfect mom day would look like for Reagan as well as how she gets through when the hard days hit.

Reagan has a unique way of viewing her children as “scientists.” We discuss what this means to her and how it affects the way she interacts with her children.

When Reagan was young, she had her life all planned out, but God had plans that were different from hers. She shares how she learned to accept God’s plan by saying, “My plan would have been harder in different ways but God’s plan prepared me for what I need to be today.”

One of my favorite parts of this interview was when Reagan and I discussed guilt and feeling unworthy before God. Reagan has some great advice for overcoming both.

Finally, we discuss how we can connect with each other, as women, and how we can connect with God by being vulnerable and sharing our lives and our stories.

How to Listen

Listen to the podcast below or on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or Sound Cloud.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave a review.

Show Notes

Follow Reagan:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/okreag/
Website: TheLuckiestMom.com

I mentioned in the episode that I met Reagan at the SALT Retreat. You can learn more about SALT by going here and listen to episode 15 of the podcast to hear my interview with SALT Retreat founder, Elise Curtis.

Follow Spiritually Minded Mom:

Instagram: Instagram.com/spirituallymindedmom
Facebook: facebook.com/spirituallymindedmom
Podcast: Spiritually Minded Mom on iTunes

SMM 021: Chasing Your Dreams + Turning to God in Post-Partum Depression || Amanda Anderson

My guest for episode 21 is Amanda Anderson. Amanda is an artist and has a business, Sketched and Sealed, painting personalized artwork. She is a wife and mom to three children ages 6, 3 and 10 months. She believes in chasing your dreams and is currently pursuing a degree in architecture. Amanda recently shared on her Instagram account about the extreme post-partum depression she experienced after her second child.  She has a beautiful story about how an involuntary admission to a mental hospital helped her turn to God as well as reach out to those around her who were also struggling. God helped her come out of the darkness she felt, and I am excited to share part of her motherhood story on the podcast.

How to Listen

Listen to the podcast below or on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or Sound Cloud.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave a review.

Show Notes

Follow Amanda:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sketchedandsealed/
Website: www.etsy.com/shop/SketchedandSealed

Amanda mentioned the Personal Progress program as something that helped her during her stay in a mental health hospital. Personal Progress is an achievement program for young women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Go here to learn more.

We mentioned this quote by Thomas S. Monson, ““The present is here. Live in it.” You can read more by going here.

Amanda highly recommends the book The Mother in Me by Kathryn Soper as a resource for all moms as it helped her greatly during her battle with post-partum depression.

Follow Spiritually Minded Mom:

Instagram: Instagram.com/spirituallymindedmom
Facebook: facebook.com/spirituallymindedmom
Podcast: Spiritually Minded Mom on iTunes

“And He Has Sent Me Here”

After the birth of my fourth baby, I braced myself for a new, crazy life. With four children under the age of six, I knew that life was going to be hectic; however, I was unprepared for some of the challenges that came my way.

When my youngest was about a month old, I noticed that I was having frequent, unbidden thoughts that caused me great anxiety. These thoughts were affecting my ability to be positive and happy. Some days, the anxiety consumed me so much that I had a hard time thinking about anything else. I struggled to keep up with my various responsibilities, I lost patience with my kids too easily, and I felt hopeless.

One of the feelings I have experienced most often is fear — fear of the world around me, which was seemingly spiraling into deeper and deeper turmoil; fear of terrible things happening to myself or my loved ones; fear of never being able to achieve my goals and dreams, for one reason or another. The thoughts of these fears coming to fruition made me unbearably sad, and sometimes extremely panicked. At times it was difficult to think about the future or feel any sort of hope, because I would immediately think “But what if…?” My mind was becoming trained to think that happiness was never coming.

With the support of my husband, I visited a mental health counselor to try to get some of these feelings sorted out. The counselor was very helpful and supportive, and immediately recognized my symptoms as signs of postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. While the diagnosis was somewhat frightening, it was also somewhat relieving to finally have a name for my feelings — a label to put on an existence that was previously mysterious.

At the height of this trial, life went on. I had four young children to care for — feed, bathe, clothe, take to the doctor, and clean up after. The commonplace routines could not stop. It was one of those commonplace routines, however, that ended up giving me a major boost, right when I needed it.

I was putting my two-year-old son to sleep. It had been a difficult day, full of fearful thoughts and a generally troubled mind. When I asked my little boy what bedtime song he wanted, he requested “I Am a Child of God,” which is a song the children at our church sing very often. I began to sing,

 

“I am a child of God,

And He has sent me here…”

 

I froze. Many different phrases of this song, in their beautiful simplicity, had struck me before, but this was the first time this particular phrase really jumped out at me.

“He has sent me here.”

This world that I felt so afraid of? God sent me here. I believed that, and I had believed it from my childhood. And yet, if I really did believe that, how could I be so afraid all the time? Why was I afraid of this place that my loving, all-knowing Heavenly Father had sent me to? Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t need to be.

The peaceful feeling I had when I sang those words that night made it difficult for me to finish the rest of the song without quite a few tears. But as I have thought more about this phrase and what it means for my life — for all our lives — I have come up with a few ideas that have helped me battle my anxious thoughts.

 

1) There is a plan for my life.

God didn’t send me here without a purpose. Why would he? Why would he make us, his children, face life’s challenges for no reason? I believe that as loving Father, God sent me here because He has a plan for me. He wants me to learn, grow, and become better. Any challenge I face has that ultimate purpose.

2) God is at the helm.

I didn’t end up here by chance. God deliberately sent me here. He sent me to this time and to this place. He knows what He is doing. If bad things happen, it is because God knows that they need to happen in order for us to reach our full potential. He does not direct or inspire wickedness, but he does allow it to happen, and He has taught us how to persevere through it and in spite of it.

3) Earth is the best place for God’s plan to be carried out.

I was sent here, to Earth. This place, and its people, will help me to achieve God’s purposes. The bad things that may happen here will not stop His plan from being carried out. As long as I don’t let them, they will also not outweigh the tremendous happiness and joy that I can experience here.

 

It is not easy to remember these things in the midst of an anxiety attack — when my mind is racing and my heart is pounding and I feel like the world as I know it is ending. But the more I reflect on these truths during my good moments, the more they become a part of me, and the more power I give them to push away my anxiety and my fears.

I’m still facing my mental health challenges, but I have faith that God wants to help me overcome them and help me grow because of them. I have faith that God wants me to find help: He wants me to visit all the counselors I need to visit, to take the right medications if necessary, to care for my body and my mind in ways that will lead to happiness and peace. He wants me to be healed.

The fact is — I know that God is there. He is real. I know that He loves me. I know that I am one of His precious children. And I know that He sent me here. Knowing these things has given me strength and solace throughout my life, and I have faith that this knowledge will continue to help me through this trial, and through all my trials to come.