You are feeling as if you are losing your mind and you begin to question if you have a mental health disorder? Your anxiety level is through the roof! You are having trouble eating and sleeping. In addition, memories of being with your children are running rampant through your mind. You can’t stop the flashbacks from the past life you happily lived with your kids. Are you crazy? Probably not but you could be a targeted parent.
When it comes to understanding parental alienation syndrome, researchers spend a great deal of time investigating the impact on the child. This is critically important, but it seems that there is not enough time spent on the impact of alienation on the targeted parents mental health.
For those of you that are not familiar with the term “targeted parent,” it occurs following a divorce, when one parent convinces the children that the other parent is not trustworthy (targeted parent), loveable or caring towards their child when there is no evidence to back up these claims.
Being separated from your children is a major situational stressor. It is one of the worst unresolved losses a parent can endure. Parents experiencing this kind of loss report feeling as though there is a “black hole” in their heart. Other targeted parents have reported that they have experienced severe anxiety, panic attacks, depression and post traumatic stress symptoms. Does this mean that these parents are mentally ill? Probably not. It does however mean that they do suffer from situational stress that is often relieved once they reunite with their alienated children.
Situational stress can occur in any of our everyday life situations. It’s usually a situation you do not have control over which involves conflict. Sometimes people begin to feel hopelessness, sadness or fear due to the situation.
Please know that anxiety is a symptom that can be reduced quickly. Don’t give your negative thoughts power. What you are coping with as a targeted parent is extremely provoking, but if you let your anxiety spiral out of control, you will limit your ability to move forward.
Dr. Sue Cornbluth is a nationally recognized parenting expert in high conflict parenting situations. She is a regular mental health contributor for an array of networks and television shows such as NBC, FOX and CBS. Dr. Sue has also contributed to several national publications. Her new best-selling book,Building Self Esteem in Children and Teens Who Are Adopted or Fostered is available now. To find out more about her work, please visit Dr. Sue’s website.