Table of Contents
ISRN Nursing
Volume 2011, Article ID 708318, 8 pages
Research Article

Mothers with Serious Mental Illness: Their Experience of “Hitting Bottom”

1School of Nursing, Laurentian University, Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, ON, Canada P3E 2C6
2Lawson Health Research Institute, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, Health Sciences Addition, H4A, London, ON, Canada N6A 5C1

Received 26 February 2011; Accepted 20 March 2011

Academic Editors: S. Keeney and B. Lundman

Copyright © 2011 Phyllis Montgomery et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study sought to understand the experience of “hitting bottom” from the perspective of 32 mothers with serious mental illness. Secondary narrative analysis of 173 stories about experiences related to hitting bottom were identified. Enactment of their perceived mothering roles and responsibilities was compromised when confronted by the worst of illness. Subsequent to women's descent to bottom was their need for a timely and safe exit from bottom. An intense experience in bottom further jeopardized their parenting and treatment self-determination and, for some, their potential for survival. The results suggest that prevention of bottom is feasible with early assessment of the diverse issues contributing to mothers' vulnerabilities. Interventions to lessen their pain may circumvent bottom experiences. Healing necessitates purposeful approaches to minimize the private and public trauma of bottom experiences, nurture growth towards a future, and establish resources to actualize such a life.