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DP mentally ill- what do I tell dc?

(31 Posts)
Orchidlady Mon 20-Jun-11 10:13:31

I have been posting recently about dp mental health problems. Lots to deal with @ the moment but would really appreciate some advice as to what to tell ds (11). He clearly knows something is up, friend picking him up from school, police coming to the house etc. I don't want to scare him but need to say something. Some thoughts please

cheesesarnie Mon 20-Jun-11 10:28:23

i told my dc simply that grandad isnt well but hes getting help andtrying to get better.they didnt ask questions,i think although they knew something was happening,the reasurence from knowing he is poorly but is getting help was enough for them but maybe ive been lucky.

Anushka11 Mon 20-Jun-11 10:58:47

the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Nothing else will do.
At 11, he will have noticed a lot more then you think. He needs to know that this is not normal, that it is illness, and not his fault. (Particularly the last!) Otherwise, it will mess with his head. F***, I've lived with it for 6 years, and my head was messed up. And the DCs. And I did tell them the truth.
Turns out now, they did notice even more then I thought they did. And some stuff went on I did not know about.They were 8 and 11 when it started.
DD2 at 8/9 already was extremely effective at managing ExP in his bad periods.
Yes, repeated sectioning, psychosis, police, extended hospital stays, etc etc. Shouting, weird stuff, in the end he hit me thinking I was possessed by the devil + had to be exorcised shock. Mind you, he was not very nice even when well(ish).
f.e. DD2 does not like looking people in the eye, as he kept telling her he could see into her soul through her eyes and influence her soul. DD1 and DS both have sleep problems, as he kept coming into the bedrooms at nights when unwell, as did not sleep.
Talk. Then talk some more. And don't gloss it over- mine have said knowing he was mad was the only thing that kept them sane!

Orchidlady Mon 20-Jun-11 11:08:53

OMG, anushka

cestlavielife Mon 20-Jun-11 11:39:55

agree with anushka (anushka hope things are better for you and DC now?) - the truth "dad is sick and needs help" "he is doing xxx and yyy beacuse he is not wel. he has mental health problems. mental health means problems with the way he is thinking" etc.

and ask open ended questions to DS to see what it is he is worried about.

let school know - is there a teacher he likes/would talk to?

ask DS if he wants to come to see GP to ask GP about anything

what's happening with DP now?

and i would say - if DP is in hospt/being looked after - then spend the time with your DS.

Orchidlady Mon 20-Jun-11 12:03:54

Hi Cest, MHT saw him on Thurs and wanted him to see the Consultant on Friday, unfortunately this still has no happened, pretty annoyed really. Not a brilliant weekend, dp still acting strangely and talking about suicide. Have chased MHT again this morning. Both kids know something is up. I am not experienced in dealing with this. Spent lots of time with DS2 ( other is grown up) this weekend and trying to keep the peace. Feel very tired today. I have come to the conclusion that he is infact more ill than I thought.

cestlavielife Mon 20-Jun-11 12:40:26

hmm, is he still going to work?

at some point you might have to tell MHT that you not prepared to care for him / have him at home and that they going to need to admit him or something ... he could agree to go in voluntarily?

PrivateParts Mon 20-Jun-11 12:50:48

Me & dsis grew up with a mentally ill mother, she was hospitalised a couple of times when we were very little but she managed the rest of the time. I can't remember what on earth we were told, but we've known the name of the illness for as long as I can remember, and tbh it wasn't until i was in my late teens that i realised how unusual we were.

My sister's therapist (she did a counselling course and had to have counselling as part of it, not because she particularly needed it) told her that she thinks the reason we've grown up without any big issues as a result of my mum's illness is that we had a rock solid support network as a family - we grew up with very supportive lodger friends, our grandparents looked after us when they needed to, and my dad stuck around. She said a lot of kids with mentally ill parents wind up being isolated and caught in the 'bubble' so to speak. So I guess try and keep their lives going, keep good contact with friends, and don't be afraid to ask for help from outside your immediate family.

I think as others have said it is important to be very honest, and not too emotional or 'doom and gloom' about it. My dad took the light-hearted approach a little too far (doing an unfair impression of my mum's posturing, to make us laugh) and I remember me & dsis giggling nervously at him but i've never forgotten that and i now think that it did make me feel uncomfortable because of course the situation wasn't funny at all.

Our family is rock solid now, we're very close and my mum has been well for many many years now. I wish you all the best.

RiceBurner Mon 20-Jun-11 12:53:44

Good post PrivateParts.

Orchidlady Mon 20-Jun-11 13:34:15

Cest, he has gone to work today, I can't stop him. He is at least acknowledging that he has a real problem and willing to talk with someone, which is a step in the right direction. Also happy for me to talk with my Mother now. Just need to say something to DS, he is a big worrier and very sensitive,don't want to upset him but also know I must say something to him.

Private, thanks for sharing your story

cestlavielife Mon 20-Jun-11 14:13:13

DS will worry more if you dont say anything - you need to let him know he can tell you anything.

so that for example he will come to you to tell you if he has seen dad do or say anything upsetting to him

also is there another family member he close to that he knows number of /could call if he needs to? does he know about dialling 999 in an emergency?

Orchidlady Mon 20-Jun-11 14:21:59

I know I need to sit him down later and say something, just want to put it across in the right way without sending the poor thing into a tail spin, he does get very panicky about things. Yes knows my mums number on his mobile. DP was not very kind to the poor kid this weekend. DP seems convinced that DS is telling lies and trying to cause trouble, had to keep them apart ad much a possible. DS always knows he can talk to me.

cestlavielife Mon 20-Jun-11 14:23:43

if he likes books then slightly too young (and north american) but good starting point for discussion is aimed at adults but stragihtforward tor ead - soem apges might be relevant - also good starting point for discussion

PrivateParts Mon 20-Jun-11 16:20:45

Me & Dsis used to be on the lookout for our mum 'turning' (we called it 'going mad') It's weird, i can't remember the first time she had an episode, but i very clearly remember the 2nd time, we went to our dad to tell him we thought our mum was 'going mad again' and he pooh-poohed it (to stop us worrying i suppose) and sure enough next morning she was talking nonsense and he had to get her to the hospital. sad We knew her well enough to know... Seriously, respect that your DS is old enough and mature enough to know and for you to be open with him about it. He will feel so much more secure with the truth than with it being brushed under the carpet. I remember my dad coming up in the morning to us to tell us we were right, and i remember that feeling of camaraderie with him, that he trusted us enough to confide in us and tell us the truth however brutal it may have sounded. I think we were about 8/9.

ducati Mon 20-Jun-11 19:48:31

how disappointing he has not seen psych yet. what's going on? he needs to be on medication. still, do not panic. there was long gap between my dh's going off rails and finally getting onto medication and it didnt really make much difference. in fact he wouldnt have taken it until it got really really terrible.
totally agree with cestlavielife. wd advise you sit down and ask ds "have you noticed daddy is not at all himself?" and take it from there. my dcs were much younger (6 and 4) and I handled it really badly by pretending it was hayfever and being in tears all the time. I was in a complete state because of dh's behavior -- you are much calmer, it seems. the key thing is a) it will not last and b) it is not anyone's fault

Orchidlady Tue 21-Jun-11 09:13:09

Appointment @ 12.00 today, if I can get him there, had to pick him up from work yesterday as he got soo pissed there he was too drunk to drive. I am quite calm but also inside very anxious and in turmoil, finding this very streesful tbh. MHT team think I should see psych with him, as he is not very forth coming.

KidderminsterKate Tue 21-Jun-11 09:23:07

I'm struggling with this too although am separated from my husband at the moment.

I have told my children that Daddy isn't well and that his illness makes his head poorly and that means he does silly things, says silly things that he doesn't mean to. My oldest are rising 9's so may have got a bit more detailed with them. My husbands MH nurse has also at one point met with the kids to explain things.

good luck with this

CinnabarRed Tue 21-Jun-11 09:23:08

Will be thinking of you today. (((OP)))

cestlavielife Tue 21-Jun-11 09:48:41

good luck - defnitely go with and ask what the plan/strategy is?

who can you call day or night for advice/support?

guess he self medicating with alcohol? whatever.... he may be also ill but you have to stand firm to him, not pick him up if he drunk - tell him he has to go elsewhere....

you need to tell MHT what your limits are. they will prefer you take him home and look after him as it saves bed/costs...but you dont have to....

Anushka11 Tue 21-Jun-11 11:57:52

Hi- I separated from ExP 2 + yrs ago, due to issues. He was getting worse, and the cildren and me were suffering. He was Dx with Bipolar initially, but now seems has Schizo-affective disorder- mix of both Schizophrenia and Bipolar, I guess that's the jackpot of mental illness.
I absolutely agree about the isolation- for the children, as they did not want to invite anyone home, as he was "too weird" and "embarrassing" (he was!), and for the adult, for same reasons, but also, I found it difficult to speak to others about it, as people just don't get it if they have not been htere. It is so mentally draining, you have to be constantly on the lookout and predict things/ behaviours that are totally illogical and random.
Be careful- MH team will not assess him if intoxicated, he will be sent home without having been near a doctor!!!
Yes to the early recognition of "episodes" PP- we all got extremely good at this. Unfortunately, when I informed crisis team or early intervention, they usually did not listen, as he would pullit together for short periods. I/ my DC were right every time, but they never learned.
Orchid- best source of counselling for your DS is prob Young Carers, they run groups, weekends away, and organise counselling. Good for kids to be in contact with others exposed to same or similar.

Anushka11 Tue 21-Jun-11 11:59:06

apologies for typos!!

ducati Tue 21-Jun-11 13:23:06

orchidlady, do post a note on how things went today. I so sympathise. I feel I am reliving my dh's breakdown 2 year ago. it is like walking through fire. you just have to keep going

Orchidlady Tue 21-Jun-11 14:39:30

just got back from the psych, have given him Sertraline and somthing to help him sleep. Hopefully this will ease the panic and anxiety. MHT are coming again on Thurs to see him. Not sure exactly what he has but they said they want to set up an ongoing programme, he actually now seems ready to accept help, which is a huge step from last week. Has agreed to work morning only for a while and I am going to contact the relevant people. I made it very clear that my biggest concern was the suicide threats but not sure how seriously they took me!!!

Orchidlady Tue 21-Jun-11 14:42:37

Anushka, again thanks for sharing this, sounds like you have had a dreadful time. Difference seem to be that DP has finally accepted that he has a problem and willing to accept help ( so far)

ducati Tue 21-Jun-11 15:08:44

Phew. At least now someone as well as you is responsible and you have someone to call on in an emergency who knows what's going on. Sounds like he will be sleeping quite a lot in next few days. I hope you make further progress soon and it doesnt just drift along. Did psychiatrist inspire confidence?

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