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When I let mental illness win…

When I let mental illness win, I fail my family.  

There was the time I was lost with my kids in the car, and I had so much anxiety. My mind was traveling in circles with the car. We kept passing the same houses, over and over, making the same wrong turns, over and over, making the same stupid mistakes. 

I was hopeless, frustrated beyond words. I couldn’t do anything right. 

We were late for a birthday party. Tears streamed down my face, followed by shouts, my hand slamming on the wheel, and a tantrum like a toddler. There wasn’t a dry eye in the car when I lost my ever-loving-mind. My kids no longer felt safe.

When I let mental illness win, I fail my family.

On the days I feel sad, and don’t know why. I mean, logically, I have no reason to be. But I feel depleted. And I have no energy to match my kids’ high-energy-all-the-time ways. 

Smiling is hard.
Breathing is hard.
Everything is hard and completely draining.
The only easy thing is tears – salty wet drops that glide effortlessly down my face.

When I let mental illness win, I fail my family.  

The times when my anxiety gets the best of me. When my child falls, and my heart drops with the tone of my voice, projecting my fear onto my child. When I don’t let my children participate with the other kids out of fear that they’ll get hurt.

My bad days and moments will always circle back to me struggling, but it’s not my fault. As long as I’m actively working on it and through it, I’m not failing my family … I’m being strong for them. 

But on those days where I win, I’m a better mom and person because of the hard days.

Because my mental illness struggles have made me more compassionate. 

Because I know how to advocate for my kids as I’ve had to for myself. 

Because I’m incredibly resilient, and I get to show my kids each day how I keep fighting no matter what.

And when I do … 

I win.

My family wins.

And we all win.

Danielle Sherman-Lazar

Danielle Sherman-Lazar is an eating disorder advocate and a mother to three daughters. She has been published on Scary Mommy, Bluntmoms, The Mighty, Eating Recovery Center, The National Eating Disorders Association, Kidspot, ellenNation, Project Heal, Love What Matters,, Beating Eating Disorders, Her View From Home, Motherly, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Recovery Warriors,,, and That’s Inappropriate. You can follow her on Facebook ( and Instagram (@livingfullaftered). Her book Living FULL: Winning My Battle with Eating Disorders is available on Amazon:

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