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Do I tell my DD (10) that I have depression?

(38 Posts)
mojitosbythesea Thu 23-Feb-17 18:17:22


I'm 32 and have had depression and anxiety for 20 years, on and off.

Recently my anxiety levels are sky high and I'm feeling incredibly low. Everything seems so hard and out of my reach.

I'm on the edge of tears constantly and my DD is bound to be picking up on this. I actually have been crying every day. Proper sobbing, but I try to do it in private.

I honestly had no intention of telling her, as I was worried that she would worry and she's had a lot to deal with recently.

I completely broke down today and DP called me to attempt to unscramble all the crap in my head (bless them) and I was talking about feeling guilty about my depression potentially harming my DD. DP suggested that I told her, as this would explain my low moods and the fact I'm sometimes teary for no "good" reason.

I am having CBT (third lot) but tbh, the last couple of sessions just seem to have opened a gate iyswim and I'm already over my sessions by two.

What does anyone think? Should I tell her? How do I tell her?

Thank you.

originalbiglymavis Thu 23-Feb-17 18:25:10

I think she will know that something is up. Kids are very perceptive.

Try to find a way she will understand. It's chemicals that sometimes just don't balance in the body and make you feel very sad for no other reason (not no 'real' reason).

She needs to know that it is definitely not anything that she is doing or saying, it's bad luck that you get this but you are seeing the doctor and it will get better. If she sees you having a wobble then all she needs to do is...(give you a hug, as if 'bert' is visiting, get you a glass of milk, leave you in peace...)

Hang in there...

Kikikaakaa Thu 23-Feb-17 18:27:28

I talk about mine with Dc, matter of fact like. They know when I am struggling and it's harder work to hide it. I might just ask for a little more help than usual

OrangeSquashTallGlass Thu 23-Feb-17 18:32:20

I would tell her. I would also tell her school. At ours we have support in place for children whose parents are suffering with depression. She might not need it, but she might - and it's good to have the option.

sireal Thu 23-Feb-17 19:09:55

I would probably tell her. Keeping it short, light, loving and gentle. So she has some understanding e.g. why you might have to go to bed or be quiet for periods, but not to the extent that its frightening, as 10 is still young. Maybe it mght be good to talk when you are not actually feeling depressed/emotional though, but when you are feeling more upbeat/calm.

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Thu 23-Feb-17 19:14:12

I actually wouldn't say anything. I've suffered all my adult life. I know dc pick up on things and I t worries me that they will learn to copy it. I would rather not validate it to them

ravenmum Thu 23-Feb-17 19:32:21

If this is a long-term feature of your life and not just a bout of depression caused by some outside event then I'd say it's worth giving her a child-friendly version, definitely focusing on the fact that it's a chemical imbalance and you are getting treatment. And thus not a sign that you have a weak personality or are "showing off" or any of the other things that make people ashamed of their illness and want to hide it.

Kikikaakaa Thu 23-Feb-17 19:46:09

It's an actual illness and pretending it's not there or you aren't suffering could perpetuate the idea that mental health issues are not real or less important than physical health.

If you had a broken leg would you hide it?

FairfaxAikman Thu 23-Feb-17 19:49:09

Tell her, but as PP said do it in a child friendly way.
I have experienced this both as the child and the sufferer.
For me, not knowing when o was younger was confusing and damaging. I am a lot more open about my own MH.

originalbiglymavis Thu 23-Feb-17 23:08:05

I used to work as a therapist. DS used to say 'sometimes people are sad and don't know why. Mum helps them to be happy again'.

SandyY2K Fri 24-Feb-17 02:08:31

I personally think it's quite a burden for a 10 year old and she'll end up worrying about you a lot. That could cause her to develop anxiety of her own.

Kikikaakaa Fri 24-Feb-17 07:19:08

You can say that of any illness that it's a burden but depression is a hidden illness and it's confusing for kids and that is what can cause anxiety.

I say again, why is it deemed acceptable to be open about physical injury or disability but mental health is seen as something that must be kept secret away from kids?

Freddorika Fri 24-Feb-17 07:50:24

I used to work as a therapist. DS used to say 'sometimes people are sad and don't know why. Mum helps them to be happy again'.

A version of this I think. My Dm used to tell me all about her depression, I hated it and resented her for it. Not ideal I know but I was 9 and the oldest and resented feeling that I had to mother her and my siblings in any way.

happybeeisgoingcrazy Fri 24-Feb-17 08:25:19

I told my children when they were 7&5. I used a book that explained it all using the concept of a black dog. I was a single mother at the time and had an awful day and the thought of leaving my room terrified me. My DD who was 5 came and asked if my black dog want to have a movie day. Since they have grown up,now 7&9 we call it my personal dementor after the creatures from Harry Potter. Just explain you have an illness in a child friendly way.

happybeeisgoingcrazy Fri 24-Feb-17 08:29:04

This is one of the books I used to explain it. My DH also used it to try understand my illness.
I Had a Black Dog

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Fri 24-Feb-17 18:21:27

I don't choose to keep it quiet because of shame or embarrassment. I don't say anything because depression can be inherited often through learnt behaviour.

I don't want to draw attention to it in case my dc are watching and copying. I prefer to not burden my DD and try to keep healthy. I take AD's on a long term basis, so actually feel ok.

mojitosbythesea Fri 24-Feb-17 18:33:26

Thanks for all the replies.

I'm still incredibly torn. Yesterday was a bad day.

originalbiglymavis Fri 24-Feb-17 20:44:28

I think it will reassure her if you tell her what's going on.

It's ok, it will be OK but you have bumpy days when you feel very sad, you love her to bits but the gloom descends and you have to work through it. You might be grumpy, shouty, crying, silent but you still love her but this dumb imbalance just gets the upper hand some days and you can't shake it off. Other days you are on the other side of the see saw and you kick it's ass.

The main thing is for her to know that it's temporary, not her fault, not anyone's fault -just more bad luck to have wonky chemicals bouncing around. She won't be the same when she grown up, but to help you she can do x,y,z . This will help if she feels that she is doing something amkskero her busy if you really can't handle a child br ng around. So ask her to pair the socks, watch a funny film with you (yoi can zone put), peel the spuds...

It's going to be OK. I'm telling you - you can beat this.

PutABitofButteronTheSpudsAndre Fri 24-Feb-17 21:17:21

Similar background here to what freddorika said. Lots of other sobbing on me telling me I was her only friend. Then shouting at me for some random household task.
Make sure your dd doesn't end up feeling responsible for keeping you happy. Don't think because you've told her you can now let loose in front of her. She's still a child.
Short statement, child appropriate. Possibly discuss with therapist first as to what is appropriate for her to hear.

SandyY2K Sat 25-Feb-17 00:45:33

. I don't say anything because depression can be inherited often through learnt behaviour.

I don't want to draw attention to it in case my dc are watching and copying. I prefer to not burden my DD and try to keep healthy.

I agree with you

I have a few friends who are teachers and I'm also a school governor.

My friends have spoken of pupils being affected by their parents mental health and in some cases, blaming themselves.

The child will never express this to the parent, out of fear and the desire to be helpful.

I've seen first hand the result in later life as well. I had 2 apprentices at work in recent years talk of their mother's mental health conditions and the responsibilities they took on as a result with younger siblings. One was often late, because her mum was down and she tookher little sister to school or had to deal with some other crisis regarding her mum.

Their managers really lost patience with them and they would both have been dismissed if I didn't stick my neck out for them.

I really felt sorry for them, as they didn't seem to have an enjoyable childhood. I spent time talking to them, but everything led back to their mum.

These may have been more extreme cases, but its my experience and I'm now dealing with the third apprentice in a similar position.
Coincidently they've all been girls.

junebirthdaygirl Sat 25-Feb-17 01:08:22

My dh suffers from depression ad l waz very open with the dc from the beginning. The reason l went that route was that my own dm was depressed when l was young and nobody explained it to me. I took on huge guilt a out it thinking it was my fault. I did everything l could to be a good girl but nothing worked. I had to have counselling later . All l needed to know was it wasnt my fault. Please tell her or get someone else to tell her.
My dc havent copied their df and my siblings havent copied my dm. I dont think it works that way.

UnbornMortificado Sat 25-Feb-17 01:10:18

My daughters 11 and she knows I have bi-polar.

It's always been explained that it's something wrong with my head that I take medication for, which it basically is.

Sorry your feeling so bad flowers

corythatwas Sat 25-Feb-17 01:14:18

If the OP is ill to the point of breaking down and crying every day, then surely the dd will be picking up on it - providing a calm, rational explanation isn't going to burden her more than she is already burdened.

I remember that feeling of resentment at being expected to bear my DM's burden- but she never got any treatment, let alone was able to talk about it as something medical: I think it would have been easier if she had. My own dd is in a similar situation, but it is a great relief to all of us that we can be open about it.

Obviously you don't want to overshare, OP: but a brief explanation, making it clear that this is something on a par with a bad back or some other condition she can understand about might actually make things easier.

P1nkSparkles Sat 25-Feb-17 01:25:55

My mum had depression & I remember becoming aware of if at about age 7 & it was the elephant in the room that we were never allowed to talk about despite her projecting a lot of her issues and emotions onto us (not that I'm saying you're doing this OP).

I understand your reservations I would say that when we finally had a name for it when we were older it was helpful and helped us realise that things weren't necessarily normal, but also helped us realise that our mum's reaction to things at times were not our fault. Don't forget kids worlds are quite egocentric and they end up blaming themselves for stuff like their parents divorces etc.

Putting it out there also means that you & your partner can have more open conversations with your DC's about whether occasionally things might affect them & any impact this might have, but also offers the opportunity for them to be offered/ access support themselves through organisations such as young carers organisations if they need it at a later date.

UnbornMortificado Sat 25-Feb-17 01:29:53

Mojito have you plenty support?

If I get too bad I try and ship DD off to my parents, it's not ideal and I know some people wouldn't want to or don't have that type of support but I'd rather she was there (and she's not stupid she knows why) then to see me in a bad way.

When I crash it can end up with a hospital admission so I'm probably an extreme example.

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