Motherhood & Madness: Parent’s Relationship Status


Photo from

Almost a months ago I wrote a blog about why I do not want to get married. Overall, I believe marriage is a personal choice, not the next rung on the ladder of life and not needed to commit to the person you love. I very much appreciated those of you who liked and/or left comments of support. One comment though stated that my future children will not care about my reasons and that parents should put their children first. I replied to this comment to make sure I understood (“Are you saying that parents should be married and that puts their children first?) and asked if they could explain to me their reasons for believing this. I have yet to hear back and may not so I wanted to explore my understanding of this comment.

Are married parents better than unmarried parents?

First, what do you think?

Please feel free to elaborate in the comments. Any comments that are attacking in nature will not be posted. I respect your personal experiences.

I did do a bit of research to find out what SCIENCE says. Some research from 1998 has some pretty disappointing statistics on unmarried parents. Today Parents did a poll that showed unmarried, single mothers are just as good at parenting, the fathers tend to be in the picture and are not looked down upon by their married counterparts. The Telegraph has statistics saying that almost all couples that stay together while raising children are married. Umarried Equality says that children do not care if their parents are married and said that having family commitment ceremonies strengthen the family bond. The Washington Post says that couples having children without getting married is growing and the stigma around it is lessening. And since 2002, where I live, and more recently in the USA, same-sex couples couldn’t legally be married but they could be together and they did raise children with great success.

I respect data, but there are MANY factors that go into assessing if parents are successful at parenting. I feel that to say that marriage means better parenting is a big a jump. I do honestly understand the reasoning behind committing to being married means commitment to the children. I grew up with married parents. My parents are committed to each other and to myself and my sisters. I also know people, some of my close friends and family, who’s parents were married but then divorced. Stats Canada says, “In 2008, 40.7% of marriages were projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary.” In the cases of my close friends who have divorced parents, their parents were better able to care for them as a result of the divorce. For some, they did lose relationships with their fathers but, hey, some people shouldn’t be parents. I also know of one couple who were not married when they had their daughter and actually didn’t get married until she was about 8 years old. Everything was fine and they decided to get married when they wanted to.

Since 2002, where I live and more recently in the USA, same-sex couples couldn’t legally be married but they could be together and they did raise children with great success.

I personally feel that it is more about the people in the relationship than whether they are married or not. I found it difficult to leave a bad relationship when we shared a cat! I can’t imagine “easily” leaving a relationship that wasn’t working out if I had a child with them. That’s personally not how I work. I do acknowledge that I am only trying to start a family and am not yet pregnant. I am completely open to the fact that I may change mind once there is a child actually involved. For now though, this is where I stand.

I’m not looking to change anyone’s minds. I just hope that we can continue to lessen the stigma around unmarried parenting and respect people’s choices.

Who the Hell Am I?!

I used to not identify with the BPD diagnostic criteria, “Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self,” (DSM-5, pg. 663). And while I do not want my experience to be put into a checklist of symptoms I have come to see how my identity, in times of crisis, is very shaky. I think I didn’t realize this “identity disturbance” because I was using different language with myself and I thought I was doing what everyone else was doing (which could still be true).

I am fairly dysregulated right now so expanding on this is not within my capacity right now, but it relates to why I am dysregulated. My role has changed. I am now unemployed and find myself with WAY TOO MUCH time on my hands. I am alone, no one to talk to and I am spending a lot of time inside (and it’s only been 3 days…). I find myself sitting at my computer staring at the screen wondering what to do with myself. If I am not working then what? What is my worth? What is my purpose? Why do I exist? These are all things I could answer last week. I wish it was last week.

What am I going to do about this? Try and bring myself down so I can think. I’m very spacey right now.

Why I Need Transitions to Cope with Change

I was laid off yesterday. All the staff were laid off. My work is still remaining open just with different hours that do not support our full-time status. I will continue to work there, just not as an employee, until our pilot project is officially done. I have committed to that. While all of us staff knew something was going to happen, we didn’t really think it would happen this abruptly. I found out this past Thursday (which I had off, along with Friday) and then just had Saturday and Sunday to work. Shock, I guess is a good word. I support my boss’s decision and I am not angry. I have been saving money since I started working here because we knew our contract would end, just not like this. That is business though and we need to make the best of a less than ideal situation.

This situation has me realizing how important transitions are in my life. Many of us are not privileged to transitions to help ease us into the next stage in our life because that is not always how life works. But, I wanted to look at how having a transition, of any length, is helpful when there are big changes happening.

For me, I need transitions to:

  • Emotionally prepare myself for positive coping.
  • Make plans about what to do next.
  • Prepare the needed materials for the change.
  • Find new ways to be busy (if the change includes job loss).
  • Make time to grieve and feel rotten about the change.
  • Make time to feel amazing about the change without being quickly overwhelmed by it.
  • Ensure the proper supports are in place.

What do I have to support me in this  new transition?

  • A savings of 5-10 months of rent (depending on how you split it between me and B).
  • A new DBT group coming up (my first in-person DBT group!).
  • A few online courses.
  • Applied for Employment Insurance and tracking down human resource contacts from my various employers to get my records of employment.
  • One more paycheck.
  • Odd days of work with my most recent employer.
  • Friends and family that know what is happening and are there for me.
  • Time to grieve.
  • Lots of volunteer work.

I want to cope positively and I will. Sometimes coping positively means not getting as depressed as you would normally. That is me today.

Do Friendships Need to Benefit You All the Time?

I personally thought that above question was a no-brainer and maybe I misunderstood what was said to me, but I am going to ask and answer the question.

Do friendships need to benefit you all the time?

Today, rather than ignore a “friend” to make him go away, I decided to be assertive, responsible and (despite what he may think) respectful and tell this “friend” that I did not want to be his friend. I messaged him on Facebook saying,

“Hi. I’m going to be honest. I can’t talk to you. I really don’t trust you and it’s not beneficial for me to keep talking with you. I’m sorry.”

He responded with,

“Weird… so a friendship has to directly benefit you all the time or it’s not worth your time? Not the kind of friends I want anyways.”

My final reply was,

“Yes, of course. You look out for yourself first. Bye.”

This particular “friend” and I have known each other since we were kids which is why I held onto the relationship for so long. He repeatedly over the years has disrespected me and my intimate relationships. I have asked repeatedly over the years for my boundaries to be respected and he did not do so. I recognized that he was struggling and I tried to support him but then my boundaries would be compromised.  I stopped speaking to him many times and he would promise that he would stop doing what I said was making me uncomfortable, but he would only do so for a short period of time. I found that I was happier when I was not speaking to him. When he messaged me a few weeks ago apologizing and specifically stating what he had done wrong I thought that maybe I should give him a chance. I still couldn’t shake the feeling of suspicion and distrust. I needed to listen to my gut. I needed to officially end the “friendship”. A friendship should not feel that way this one was feeling.

The way I see it, every type of relationship in your life should benefit you. I believe that if the relationship is a good relationship then it is benefiting you ALL THE TIME even when it is rocky. It is the benefits of the relationship that make handling the rocky moments easier and worth it. If you spend most of your time in a relationship that is hurting you then the benefits (if any) do not make it worth it to stay. You are the most important part of that relationship because you have to live with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. You set your boundaries and if those in various relationships with you respect them, then you have a beneficial relationship ALL THE TIME, even during the bad.

Motherhood and Madness


B and I are trying to get pregnant. When we first decided we wanted to try I thought about how trying to become pregnant, being pregnant and having a child would affect my mental health issue. What emotional journey will I go on? Who can I turn to? What will people think? From the research I have done in the past I am aware that resources for parents with mental health issues are scarce, but yet research on the negative impact parent mental health issues have on children is fairly abundant. This is why I wanted to create the Motherhood & Madness section of my blog.

It is my hope that through Motherhood and Madness I can share my experience of trying and being pregnant and finally, being a parent while having a mental health issue. I will share research the supports parents who have mental health issues and most importantly, I feel, connect with other soon-to-be parents and current parents who have lived experience.


DBT Skills: Empowering Ourselves Through Skills

I can be Wise :)

My time with DBT Path is almost done :( I have done all the modules and my life is forever changed. Probably the most important lesson I learned from Debbie and Amanda is that having DBT skills is empowering!

When I first entered DBT on my own a few years ago, when I purchased the McKay, Wood and Brantley book, my focus was changing myself. I needed to change to keep my relationship together and it was all about fixing myself for others. I wanted people to be able to tolerate being around me. I admit that I also went into DBT Path with a similar attitude (“I must fix myself”) but I very quickly realized that DBT is about me. DBT is about empowerment. DBT is about me having confidence in myself and my interactions with my world. I hope I am explaining this right. DBT skills make it feel like I’m breathing clearly for the first time. 

The amount of times I found myself screaming, crying, yelling, swearing and physically hurting myself was horrible. Feeling that out of control feeds the problem. Having control over my emotions, thoughts and behaviours is extremely empowering. Knowing skills like DEAR MAN, VITALS, Opposite Action, Behaviour Chain Analysis, PLEASE and more give me power. I can be who I want to be. The change this as happened in almost a year has been unbelievable.

I recently found myself in a disagreement over Facebook with an acquaintance. I disagreed with a post they put on Facebook. When I expressed my dislike for the post they were not happy with me and sent a message, which I believeyou did it was attacking me. I chose not to engage with that message and instead sent a fair and true explanation of my comment. I did not attack. Their message back did not mention anything I said in my message unless it was used to further attack me. I ended the conversation stating that we are both human, make mistakes and are doing the best we can. For me, this moment is pivotal.

What I wanted to do:

  • scream
  • swear
  • attack them (rip them apart and drag them through the mud)
  • I wanted to scream and hurt myself for getting into this mess
  • I wanted to doubt myself for standing up for what I believe in

But, none of that happened.

What I did:

  • I stayed firm in my values
  • I believed in myself
  • I communicated properly
  • I tried to defuse the situation appropriately
  • walked away when I decided I needed to
  • I accepted that their interpretation of my comment was theirs and that they were responsible for their actions, thoughts and behaviours, not me.

Did I have a little rant to B and some close friends? OF COURSE! I am still allowed to be upset at the situation but I knew I couldn’t dwell on it and let it consume me. I knew I couldn’t the situation seep into my body and mind. It has been an extremely empowering few days as I have worked through it. I chose what to do, how to react, what to think, how to feel. I chose! I CHOSE!

DBT is not just for individuals with BPD. It is for anyone who experiencing extreme emotions and I would even say that these are skills for EVERYONE. I plan on teaching these skills to my own children. If you ever have the opportunity to learn DBT I highly suggest you take it. DBT Path is a great place to start! Check your local hospitals, community health centres, therapists directories and mental health organizations to see what they have to offer. There are so many books on DBT that learning about it and practicing is possible. Check out my BPD Resources page for DBT resources (some are Toronto specific).

You deserve it.