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What to tell?

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by SlyPixie » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:24 pm

I'm a single mother, my kids are 12, 10, and 8. They all know that I take meds to correct a chemical imbalance. I'm not sure what or how much to disclose to them.

I'm not really sure what is TMI... I mean I'm pretty sure that talking about my past suicide attempts is taboo. As well as the self harm... but I'm not sure what else.

Anyone have any helpful thoughts on this?
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by Duckysmom » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:55 pm

I think there was a thread on this once but I couldn't find it. Your younger ones are not going to understand as much as the older one. I was diagnosed when my daughter was 10 and I sat her down to talk about what I had. I focused on behaviour she witnessed and my mood swings to explain it. I gave her the name of my illness and stressed that it was an illness that Mommy was going to work with her doctor to make better. Just some mixed up brain cells. I assured her it was not going to make me die, like cancer (she brought that up) but that it was not curable ( at least not yet, but scientists wete working on it). We talked about mental illness as we had a friend with Williams Syndrome and she seemed to understand. But I think the biggest thing she got from it was that my moods weren't because of her. For her entire childhood until that talk she thought all my mood swings wete somehow her fault. And, unfortunately, when manic I rage. I yell a lot over stupid stuff. But we developed code words and sayings (i.e. "Mommy's not herself today.") I let her ask questions whenever she had them. She had it roughest when the depression would set in and I could barely function. After my diagnosis, both my life and hers improved, but I still feel guilty about those first 10 years when I was continually misdiagnosed and put on all the wrong meds. As an adult, she hasn't quite matured enough to forgive and she throws it in my face when we argue, but that's another story. She took a psychology class and said that shen they talked about mental illness she thought she should be teaching the class because the professor had obviously never dealt with it and was an idiot. Her words,not mine. Today, she is an awesomd parent to my grandson and I think that's in part because of the mother she had. I stayed strong and held on for her and during the years of stability that followed she saw me as I really was.
Wow! Didn't mean to write a novel!
Whatever you tell them just has to be on their level and reminding them of all the fun you have with them when you ate feeling good doesn't hurt.
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by Spm24 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:05 pm

SlyPixie,

That depends on how mature they are. Some people at a young age are more ready to handle things then others. I know a nine year old who would understand and ask all kind of questions about the condition. Then there are some people who in their twenties are not ready to hear anything about this disorder.

So I would say that it all depends on how your kids can handle it. If they can deal with it maybe you can find a book that is geared toward younger audiences. Maybe tell them a little of what entails with your condition and your coping mechanisms..

That's all I have for you. Wish it was more.
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by Mocha » Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:51 pm

What Ducky and Shawn said.

My god daughter is 8.5yrs old and has lived with me off and on all her life. She knows all about my bp and meds, shrink and therapist. Always has. But she's not your 'ordinary' child. She's street smart and we've never hidden anything from her about anything. For her, bp is just a fact of life.

Have your kids starting asking questions, Sly?
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by AvantGarde » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:29 pm

I agree with everyone else, I was sheltered by my family from not knowing my father's issues, it was taboo the illness itself (thinking about it, they always thought it was just the alcoholism), well they didn't tell me for sure it was alcoholism until I was 12 or 13 or something, when he was hospitalized in a mental hospital. My mother now says he was also BP, and I can see that in him. Well, being sheltered only made it worse. I didn't know why he acted that way and nobody would tell me for years and years. My mother now says she should've told me when I was 5, but she was hoping he would get better.

Maybe trust them a bit more, kids are wiser and more open-eyed then we realize. Hell, at the age of 4/5 I said my father was weird, it could very well be explained and I would have a healthier reaction and relationship with him.

Of course suicidal attempts and self harm are a no-no, but you know that. I think maybe hypersexuality to the youngests is not needed too.

Just say you have a disorder of the brain, like asthma is of the lungs, that can make you really happy or really down, or really euphoric or really mad, that it's not their fault.
I think Ducky's idea of a safe-sentence is very good for future issues.
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