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How do you tell your children that you're mentally ill?

(9 Posts)
MrsKilminster Mon 04-Apr-16 10:48:00

Or do you not tell them? I've suffered from anxiety/OCD/depression for years but have never really discussed it with DD who's now 16. I've just managed to carry on and when I behave out of character because of my symptoms, I brush it off and put it down to something else. But it's getting harder and harder and I wonder if it would be better if I confessed and she knew what she was dealing with.

Yesterday I did something (not particularly serious) that made her question me - she told me I was behaving like someone she didn't know. I'm a single mum and have always felt that I need to protect her from anything difficult because of what she went through when me and her dad divorced. But she's a resourceful, intelligent girl and has friends with depression to whom she shows great empathy. Would it be too much of a burden for her to bear?

NanaNina Mon 04-Apr-16 13:24:57

I definitely think you should tell her - she probably knows more than you realise anyway. I suffer from depression and anxiety and I've aske my DIL to tell my grand daughter and she's 16 this month. She's very mature and I'm not sure what my DIL has told her but she's eminently sensible so it will the right thing. I don't talk to her about it, as it's intermittent but if I'm having bad days I just say the headmonster is around, or I'm having a tough time. I think a lot of young people have mental health issues and at 16 they're old enough to have some understanding.

Your girl sounds like my DGD - and I'm sure she'll understand.

spanky2 Mon 04-Apr-16 13:31:18

I've told my dcs as the anxiety and depression affect my life sometimes and they notice. I've simplified it and given them the child friendly version so they aren't terrified by some of the symptoms. Dcs are 8 and 11. The eldest one knows abit more as he's noticed more.
You know your dd best, do you think she has noticed your symptom? I think it would be okay.

MrsKilminster Mon 04-Apr-16 15:03:17

Thank you both. I don't want to make a big thing of it but it would be a relief to let her know when things aren't great and then at least she'll know why. I can blame it on the headmonster!

dangermouseisace Mon 04-Apr-16 20:40:54

MrsKilminster my mum got diagnosed with depression when I was 16 and she told me. I remember I didn't think it was a big deal- sort of explained a lot smile. What wasn't ok was when she started telling me all her problems as I was too young to deal with that…But the diagnosis part was helpful rather than worrying iyswim

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 04-Apr-16 20:51:40

My mum didn't really explain her mental illness till I was an adult but she tried to kill herself when I was 15. It sounds ridiculous now, but at the time I blamed myself as I had recently become vegetarian and mum had not taken my announcement very well. She had been so out of proportionally angry that I thought it was my fault that she took an overdose, for upsetting her.

I am not saying that the situation is in anyway the same open but I think you need to explain what is going on. I can guarantee your children already know something is wrong and they will be trying to explain your behaviour, they need to know it is not about them. From a very early age i knew my mum was very unhappy but I did not understand depression, when she got so angry about trivial things I did wrong I thought it was my fault.

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 04-Apr-16 20:52:29

Open = op!

SoThatHappened Mon 04-Apr-16 21:16:35

My friends mum had PND severely. They explained it to her and she was only 8. She got it.

16 is plenty old enough. I am sure she will be very understanding. flowers

RedOnHerHedd Mon 04-Apr-16 21:19:36

Mine are 7 and 11 and they know that mummy struggles with her nerves. They're brilliant with me. The oldest is fantastic, will stay with me when walking through a busy shop because he knows I panic if I'm alone.

My problems lie with crowded public places and sometimes with noise levels. I also can't watch the news, it worries me too much.

They're amazing boys, I'm very lucky that they're so good with me.

I wouldn't hold back on telling her. My boys know the reason why I got like I am and since getting medication just after Xmas I feel a lot better but still struggling. Kids know more than we think they do, so it's better that it's explained to them in terms they can understand, rather than let them guess and cause them to worry.

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