My breakdown and what it taught my daughters | Letter

Thank you, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, for your openness and honesty in your article (I feared my mental health struggles would hold my son back, but I’m starting to see they could help him, 29 October). It really resonated with me, and I am sure it resonated with many other parents too.

Having been mentally healthy until the age of 40, I had a serious breakdown in 2017 when my twin daughters were 11. I have fully recovered now, but the journey was long and painful, and I have often feared the impact it would have on them.

However, I needn’t have worried. Just like Rhiannon, I have learned that the experience has enabled me to “pass on … some of the tools to weather life’s storms” and has taught them some valuable life skills too.

They saw me get sick and they have also seen me recover. That in itself is such a valuable life lesson as, when we are at the heart of the storm, it feels like recovery is impossible. I hope that my example will serve as a powerful reminder to them that they, and others, can and will recover.

I am now much better at self-care, setting boundaries and being explicit about what I need when I feel overwhelmed. This is such a contrast to the way I was brought up. I am proud to be this role model to them and I hope it encourages them to look after themselves.

They are incredibly empathic and compassionate, showing an ability to “read” people and their emotions at a far younger age than I had imagined possible. They know when to step up and help and they know when they are out of their depth and to ask for support.

I’ll never go so far as to say that it was worth getting sick for this; but these valuable lessons for myself and my daughters have been a definite silver lining.
Rhiannon Phillips-Bianco
Rome, Italy