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should you tell your kids about MI?


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I'm in a really bad state and have been for a while, getting worse and worse. It has gotten to the point where I am not sure if I can take care of my kids. Today is the last day I have to go it alone. I'm not abusing them or anything. I don't have the energy to yell at them. I've been paying my son to clean and feed himself and his sister. They seem to be ok. It's just that it's summer and they're not doing anything adn I'm not doing anything to entertain them. Some one isn my family is ging to come and get the kids until they start day camp. How do I explain to them what is going on? My daughter turns 5 tomorrow and my son just turned 7. She goes wiht the flwo. but my son is more aware of what's going on, not that he know what going on, just that something is. Are you supposed to tell your kids"mommy go bye-bye- she crazy"?

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Whoo... I wouldn't tell them mommy is "crazy" since kids usually have an extreme view of insanity from cartoons and television as a frightening loss of control. I definitely would avoid using the word "gone bye-bye" because a child's worst fear is abandonment. Using either of these words is likely to just scare them. What you want is for them to understand, on whatever level they are able to.

I would keep the explanation very simple. I would start off by telling them how much you love them, and that there is something important that you want them to know. Then explain to them that mommy has an illness which makes her feel sad sometimes, and which makes her want to sleep or stay in bed. Keep it simple. Explain to them that it is not their fault. I would also emphasize that it is a manageable illness, and mommy has a doctor who is helping her. (I know you're about to see a new pdoc, but you want to focus on the positive with your kids and be optimistic). Let them ask you questions about it so that you can resolve their fears.

Most important, you want to reassure them that you love them very much, that this is not their fault, and that you are not going to leave them or abandon them. Young children (ages 3-5) are very self-centered, and will automatically think that they are somehow causing your moods. Reassure them that your moods are caused by your illness, and it is not because of anything they did.

Remember to be positive and optimistic, and remember to make them feel safe and secure.

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IAre you supposed to tell your kids"mommy go bye-bye- she crazy"?

You could always just tell them the truth: that mommy's been sick for a while and that's why she hasn't had the energy to play or even help out much around the house. Because their family loves them so much, ____ has asked if they can stay at their house until summer camp while mommy tries to rest up and maybe get better.

It may not be the clinical "truth" as in diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis, but it's a better description than the DSM gives. And if they need a more sophisticated explanation later on, it won't require unlearning a cover story.

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I have kids the same age as yours (plus a 20yo), and yeah, that's what I or my husband/daughter explains it as... mom doesn't feel good right now, she needs some quiet. Her head hurts. At the age of 7, they have a fantastic ability to overblow situations, at least mine does. Keep it simple, and don't offer too much. Chances are, he'll take the simple explanation and not question further. And yep, don't lie. One of these days you'll be talking openly with your kids... my 20yo knows a whole lot about me now. She says that it makes sense of her childhood. Parts were bad, now she understands why.

Hope you get lots of rest. I know, the summers are hard!

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I can certainly relate. I believe DBSA has a book for kids "The storm in my brain" which is geared for youngsters experiencing mood disorders, but you could explain that is what happens in mommys brain at times. Just a chemical imbalance, something that is nobodys fault. Kids will ask more as they get older- always encourage open communication, and never lie if you can help it. When I was little I thought my mom was dying of cancer cause of all the commotion and hushed whispers, her locked in her room. Have you decided on a plan of action yet about this episode? Where do ya live- maybe we could meet up at the loony bin. I've embarrassed myself greatly these past few days and I'm going off the deep end.

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Scatty- I'm feeling a little better today, so far, but the way my moods have been swinging- who knows? My daughter's birthday is today-5 yrs. old. so thank the Lord I am feeeliign better (still can't type) I did find a place that in its description uses the word "nurturing". I really like that word. I live in Fla. The place is called Bayside something or other, part of Sarasota Memorial Hospital. I would love to meet w/ you at the "loony bin". Who knows what I will feel like in an hour(or a minute!).

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Scatty- I'm feeling a little better today, so far, but the way my moods have been swinging- who knows? My daughter's birthday is today-5 yrs. old. so thank the Lord I am feeeliign better (still can't type) I did find a place that in its description uses the word "nurturing". I really like that word. I live in Fla. The place is called Bayside something or other, part of Sarasota Memorial Hospital. I would love to meet w/ you at the "loony bin". Who knows what I will feel like in an hour(or a minute!).

Of course I created a misunderstanding mel. I meant I was right with ya- like suffering in this turmoil of pain and suffering. Same thing since I live in Massachusetts. We are all Massholes here. Treatment here is not bad but i'm stuck with community care. Mclean is a good hospital but over an hour from me and i think it;s hard to get into- my clinic isn't affiliated with them just respite short term care around here. Hopefullu hubby can research this I feel drained.

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i'm sorry i didn't read over the other posts all that well, so if i'm repeating, i'm sorry. i can't focus that long.

as for if you should tell kids that young, they want you to be their role model and they look up to you to see that everything is right in the world. they look to you for everything, and especially stability in their lives. kids are very sensitive to stability or lack thereof, and will react to any changes in it.

it is MANDATORY that you find the right meds to help you, so you won't be crazy. even if it means an inpatient stint so they can redo all your meds and watch you, do something quickly to bring stability to your family. the sooner the better! kids that young can't care for themselves very well. it isn't fair to them and brings their happy childhoods to more of an end than anything else. so does being burdened with the lack of stability and knowing that there is something the matter with their idol, their mom.

i know you can. you're a brave fighter.

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I've been taking Cymbalta for 3-?-days now and I can already tell the difference. Today I took my kids to the pool today for 2 hrs. We had a lot of fun. They were happy. I think I need to keep myself out of my bed!

Anyway, Loon-A-Tik, I probably was unclear about the level of care I have been giving my children. I feed them and see to their needs. I talk and listen to them. If I'm in bed, they will bring me a book to read to them. or hang out and watch cartoons. I've in no way been anywhere close to being a great mom, but I have been doing my best, and No one could say that my kids are "neglected". They aren't. They just deserve more, but they are happy and healthy.

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Fact is, if you are mentally ill, your kids are going to witness some level of your mood fluctuations over the course of their lives. Of course, getting immediate care for your symptoms is mandatory, but to think that just because your kids know something is wrong with you probably won't shatter their image of you unless you are unmedicated, neglectful, abusive, or in denial. I took offense to loons statement. My kids know something is seriously wrong with me and have witnessed mania, depression, anxiety, and I am still their idol. I am open and honest with them and we have a very close relationship. I am going through a very hard time currently and am doing everything to regain stability, so I am a bit over emotional when I read things like that.

Mel, so glad you are feeling better. Pdoc raised my risperdal and I hope that does the trick. Today was better than yesterday, so hopefully we will both continue to improve.

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Scatty, thanks for your reply. It is hard enough to feel guilt, but,, well I don't want to say anything else. My son just finished 1st. grade and he can read Harry Potter books! I read to my kids every night- almost. If not, I explain that I am too tired or have a headache and they are fine with that. My daughter has the biggest, brightest smile and shining, sparkling eyes. I am glad I was unknowingly put in a defensive position about my parenting skills. It really really made a huge difference in the guilt factor, I guess that any parent-MI or not - feels. It made me see that I am not as bad as I thought. Of course, my depression has greatly been lifted. Thank you, Cymbalta! I'm glad you're feeling better Scatty

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My mom was a bitch, fortunately she didn't have to explain that to me explicitly, I figured that out on my own when I was a lot younger.

Her current diagnoses are GAD, possible borderline personality, and intermittent explosive disorder (the latter former; in retrospect).

I do wish my family understood that something called psychiatry actually existed and could help people. We sort of had our heads up our asses until I had a deep, dark, catatonic, and suicidal depression in 2003 and went and sought help without asking the parental units. I was MI since 9 (MDD), so it took 10 years for me to get help as my parents were in denial anything could possibly be wrong with us. My family's belief was that the only thing that was wrong in the house was me.

Eventually, 2 years ago, I dragged Mom in to see a therapist (who used to be my former one), and she also received meds from her GP. She does not go to therapy since she's convinced that all she needs are meds and "TLC" from my father. She doesn't understand that "TLC" stands for Thin Liquid Chromatography to my scientist dad.

So kudos to the moms and dads who admit something's wrong, and take steps to correct it. Denial is a very selfish thing, and I'm glad nobody here has a problem with that. I think the kids should know what's going on, but as said here, in more subtle terms than the word "crazy".

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Wow. Can I retract those words I used sarcastically-about telling my kids I was crazy? I thought I already said-"I wasn't going to say anything like that". I was looking for understanding, help, and support when I wrote this thread. Instead, I seem to be getting (not from everyone) accusations, admonations, and condemnations. I know I'm not the only BP w/ major depression parent on this board. I feel guilty enough, now I feel like I am an incapable, incompetent mother. Thanks.

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Wow. Can I retract those words I used sarcastically-about telling my kids I was crazy? I thought I already said-"I wasn't going to say anything like that". I was looking for understanding, help, and support when I wrote this thread. Instead, I seem to be getting (not from everyone) accusations, admonations, and condemnations. I know I'm not the only BP w/ major depression parent on this board. I feel guilty enough, now I feel like I am an incapable, incompetent mother. Thanks.

No, you're fine, Mel. You are just feeling bad right now.

It's awesome that you sought out guidance from people. You can go back and separate the wheat from the chaff when you are feeling better.

In the meantime, give yourself credit for being open minded and looking for answers. That is the mark of a good parent.

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Wow. Can I retract those words I used sarcastically-about telling my kids I was crazy? I thought I already said-"I wasn't going to say anything like that". I was looking for understanding, help, and support when I wrote this thread. Instead, I seem to be getting (not from everyone) accusations, admonations, and condemnations. I know I'm not the only BP w/ major depression parent on this board. I feel guilty enough, now I feel like I am an incapable, incompetent mother. Thanks.

There's no reason to feel bad... I know you're not going to go in front of your kids and say "hey, Mom's crazy!".

Let's start from the idea that you're going to tell your children that you're often subject to bad days where you might lose your temper, and also you'll have days where you will be very sad and tired. I assume this is what you wish to do.

The above is Step One. Just by doing that, you've vaulted yourself to a higher level than anybody in my family has ever gone. You have overcome denial. You have forewarned your children that you have an illness, and this would be a very good thing. Your children will be able to distinguish symptoms of your MI from the more realistic things (and criticisms) you might tell them.

I didn't have that luxury, since "there can't be MI in our family, nobody's crazy here".... all I knew is that I was stupid, lazy, and worthless, as per Mom.

I didn't know that she had Intermittent Explosive Disorder and generalized anxiety, nor did I know that her father was a suicide (in contrast to her telling me he died of heart disease), to say nothing of him also being an alcoholic. In my family, it's denial, denial, denial.

And since you want to overcome denial... well, there's just one word to describe you...

Hero. (or Heroine if you prefer.)

My opinion is that you should tell your children about your MI. In my eyes, that'll make the family a much better and more understanding place to be.

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I know it's hard not to take every comment personally, but, like MG said, take the good advice and leave the rest. It's a good thing you reached out, a shitty mother wouldn't bother.

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H- I guess I am being overly sensitive. In a pit of despair right now. I told my kids yesterday that I didn't feel good. Understatement. I had racing suicidal thoughts that kept me up half the night. Today, I see my therapist and tomorrow morning, I go to my new tdoc (NP). Hopefully, they can help me. My kids are going to grandma's tomorrow for four days. I wish it was today. My dh is working for 14 hours today. I'm going to try really hard to stay out of bed today. Of course, I have a morning nap usually. My kids are safe because they know the rules and if my daughter-the 5 yr. olf were to do something, my son-7- loves to tattle. Plus, I have my mommy ears and am a light sleeper.

I am having the most negative thoughts you can imagine. I must really hate myself. I would never say the things I tell myself to someone else.

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H- I guess I am being overly sensitive. In a pit of despair right now. I told my kids yesterday that I didn't feel good. Understatement. I had racing suicidal thoughts that kept me up half the night. Today, I see my therapist and tomorrow morning, I go to my new tdoc (NP). Hopefully, they can help me. My kids are going to grandma's tomorrow for four days. I wish it was today. My dh is working for 14 hours today. I'm going to try really hard to stay out of bed today. Of course, I have a morning nap usually. My kids are safe because they know the rules and if my daughter-the 5 yr. olf were to do something, my son-7- loves to tattle. Plus, I have my mommy ears and am a light sleeper.

I am having the most negative thoughts you can imagine. I must really hate myself. I would never say the things I tell myself to someone else.

I'm glad you've made alternate plans for the children so that you may recover and treat your kids in what you feel is an appropriate manner. It'd be especially hard for you to deal with the kids given that DH has a 14 hour workday. My dad had the same problem until I was 8 (he was a postdoctorate PhD fellow), and he and I really didn't get to know each other until then. Most days during his postdoc, he'd leave before I got up and return after I went back to sleep. This left my closet-MI mother to take care of me, and well, you can figure out how that went. And you're being a lot more open... sending the kids to the grandparents and then having plans to explain your MI to the children.

Once again, best of luck... and I admire you for not falling into the same trap my parents did.

--fous

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