Wednesday, February 14, 2007
7 News Features: Mommy Madness
How can someone so small turn life so upside down? Parents, if you're constantly feeling overwhelmed by your children or even depressed, you're not alone. In this special assignment report, Lynn Martinez shows us how a new diagnosis -- "Mommy Madness" -- may be to blame.
WSVN -- Imagine taking a rubber band and stretching it to the limit -- at some point, it will break.
For thousands of parents, especially moms, it's what life feels like everyday. Just ask Daniela Tzinas.
Daniela Tzinas: "I find myself really frustrated and sad."
This successful businesswoman stopped working after having son Bruno and set out to be the perfect mother.
Daniela Tzinas: "Obsessing about how to do it completely right. I realized, wow, I wasn't prepared for all of this."
What Daniela also didn't realize -- her quest for perfection ended in fits of depression and anger.
Daniela Tzinas: "I remember myself going like, 'Ooohh,' you know that kind of frustration and you just verbalize it like 'ahhhh' or maybe doing like this on the table or something. I should have done that in my room away from him."
Working mom of two, Susan Fraga, also sought to be a perfect parent.
She got frustrated with herself and angry with her children when things didn't go right.
Susan Fraga: "Children will push your buttons and when that happens I do lose my temper. I do raise my voice very often, then cry because I'm very sensitive."
Lynn Martinez: "If this sounds familiar, parents, you may be suffering from 'Mommy Madness.' While the symptoms are similar to postpartum depression, there are no hormones involved, and it doesn't matter how old your children are."
Faith Ploude: "Years ago, when our mothers and our grandmothers gave birth to their children, they didn't have to go back to a 40-hour week, high pressured job. They had family members to help them, we don't have that."
The result: Anger, guilt, sadness and depression over our inability to make everything perfect.
And it can be serious.
Back in December, single father Matthew Wheeler killed himself and his 7-year-old son in his Plantation home.
Police believe Wheeler couldn't take the stress of taking care of his disabled son.
And it's not just a disease that affects parents. A recent study showed children of depressed parents have high rates of anxiety and depression.
That's where parenting support groups like this one at Mercy Hospital come in.
Moms like Susan and Daniela can be open and honest here.
Daniela Tzinas: "I was successful as a person and as an employee, but, as a mom, there was no book."
Susan Fraga: "Sometimes I would come in and say this is what I'm dealing with and just cry."
"I think trying to strive for the perfect mother is what's driving me insane."
But, moms and dads, you can get past the madness according to author and psychologist, Dr. Priscilla Marotta.
Dr. Priscilla Marotta: "The woman falls into the trap of over-doing, over-responsibility and then that causes them to feel very overwhelmed, which is problematic."
First, you have to set clear limits.
Second, admit you can't do it all.
Have your family share responsibility.
Dr. Priscilla Marotta: "I think that there is a tendency sometimes of, 'They don't do it right the first time; it's just easier for me to do it.' It's easier in the short term, but it is not easier in the long term."
Keep in mind, your child doesn't have to do everything. So don't overschedule your child.
And remember to keep adult time in your schedule.
Dr. Marotta says parents, especially moms, need to learn to develop healthy selfish behaviors.
Both Daniela and Susan are learning there is no such thing as the perfect mother.
Susan Fraga: "I knew that all I was required to do was be my best and do my best, respond my best, be able to apologize when I'm wrong. That's the best I can do."
Daniela Tzinas: "Take time for yourself. Remember who you were. You feel sad, you feel upset because you miss who you were before you had your child."
So, parents, if you're stretched thin and close to the breaking point, take a deep breath and remember that being a mommy or daddy doesn't have to include the madness.
Mercy Hospital also has a parenting class just for dads who want to talk and vent.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Mercy Hospital Lactation Services
3663 South Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33133
Dr. Priscilla Marotta
Psychologist and author of "Power and Wisdom"
6950 Cypress Road, Unit 103-A
Plantation, FL 33317