Read Mikki’s beautiful story and know you are not alone. Parenting with ADHD and depression, a mom’s personal story.
Mikki Flaherty, Mom of 2, wife
Co-host of Boss Ladies and Babies podcast and community www.bossladiesandbabies.com
First question, Will you please describe a bit about your own mental health journey with ADHD and chronic depression. How did you come to get a diagnosis, and are you on a treatment regimen that is working?
I was diagnosed with depression in 2011 after the tragic passing of my father. I received treatment, got on medication, and eventually felt that I was in a place where I no longer needed treatment. Fast forward a few years, and I had my babies 18 months apart, was struggling as a stay at home Mom and just drowning in my responsibilities. I finally realized that something was wrong, and I shouldn’t have to be feeling how I was. I started seeing a counselor, re-started treatment for chronic depression, and was also diagnosed and began treatment for ADHD.
That diagnosis has been the most life changing. Starting medication for ADHD was like a fog had lifted from my brain and I could think clearly for the first time in my life. Besides the physical benefits of treatment, it was also really emotional for me. I finally understood why I was struggling, and I was able to look back on my life and realize that so much I had been dealing with was due to my ADHD and not that I was lazy or unmotivated or careless.
What is a typical day like for you, as a mother, entrepreneur, spouse, and all the other hats you wear?
I am still very much a work in progress when it comes to creating a routine that let’s me balance all of my responsibilities. From the moment I open my eyes I am on Mom-duty. Now that we are living in a pandemic, that includes working with them on their school work, trying to keep everyone happy, healthy, safe and learning. When my husband is not working, he is right beside me helping to divide and conquer the day! I have one night a week that is set aside for me to record my podcast, Boss Ladies and Babies, that I co-host with my best friend. Besides that scheduled evening every week, I fit in the rest of my work throughout the day when I can.
Are there considerations you make in your parenting to cope with having chronic depression and ADHD?
I make sure to keep all of our families appointments in my Google calendar on my phone, which also syncs to my husband’s phone so that we can remember any important dates. I also have a white board in our kitchen with our weekly schedule on it to keep track of the kids’ zoom meetings for school, meals for the week, and any other events coming up. And finally, my best most helpful “tool” is my husband. He is so supportive of me with my mental health needs and is always there if I need to take some time for myself.
What do you find helps you most, to get through?
My family of course are my biggest supporters and motivators. If it wasn’t for them there are days I would probably never get out of bed.
I have also recently found a few Facebook groups for Moms with ADHD and it has been incredible. I finally have found a community of people like me that struggle with the same things I do! No one close to me has ADHD and I have always felt very alone and like I was failing at being an adult, when no one else seemed to be. Now I feel empowered, supported, and understood in ways I never have before.
What are your greatest successes so far, on this parenting journey?
My children will always be my greatest successes. They are so smart, they are constantly surprising us with the things they know. They are sweet and funny and when I look at them, I realize that even though Motherhood (especially those first few years) was harder than I expected and I felt like I was failing most days, I have definitely done something right with those two.
Do you talk to your children about your mental health? Do you have advice for parents on how to talk to their kids about their own mental wellness.
I haven’t specifically discussed my mental health with them yet. They are still young, 5 and 7, so I haven’t gotten technical with them. But I do let them know when I’m having an off day that I might be feeling a little sad or overwhelmed or whatever, and that its ok to feel that way, and we all have days that are harder than others. I try to be supportive of their moods and acknowledge when they might be having a tough day and support them through that too. Just showing someone who is struggling that it’s ok to feel the way they are feeling, that you are there for them, and love them unconditionally goes a long way. That, and a nice long hug.