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Forums / Welcome and orientation / When is it time to tell your children about your depression?

Topic: When is it time to tell your children about your depression?

8 posts, 0 answered
  1. Danno13
    Danno13 avatar
    4 posts
    14 October 2020

    Hi All,

    Very new to BB and have been dealing with my depression for probably most of life and only realised the last 10 odd years.

    Am a father to 5 children and married with a very busy life.

    Have recently come off meds after 18 months as they did in say way help but caused other issues for my relationship with my wife where she felt i was unemotional and unresponsive. Am seeing my GP soon for futher guidance on what to do. Withdrawals off meds has not been pleasant and feel like I am sinking to old ways. Feel on edge and explosive at times. I can now also seen that my older teenage kids are impacted by my moods, reactions, etc... and has become very difficult to hide the symptoms and impacts.

    My wife is the only person who knows about my depression and I am embarrassed and feel emormous guilt by telling anyone. I dont wont to burdon others particualary my kids with it. I dont want anyone else to feel in anyway responsible or part of my condition, however there is a part of me that feels like I need to explain it. It kills me when I blow up, am dismissive, rude, blunt, short, negative etc... and I feel so much guilt that i struggle with what effect it will have them if they know. Will they worry even more, will they be upset, let down, disappointed.... will they look at me differently... I am meant to be their strong, fearless leader.... brings me to tears just thinking about it.

    So should I tell them. Is there evidence to suggest that you should or should not tell them? How has it worked for everyone else. Does it help or created a whole swag of new issues.....

  2. Not_Batman
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    Not_Batman avatar
    449 posts
    14 October 2020 in reply to Danno13

    Hi Danno13.

    welcome, and thanks for your post.

    i too am a father, with kids < 10yrs old. I have thought so much about how to explain to them what is going on with Dad, but at such a young age, i’m afraid they wont understand, and i also dont want them to feel guilty, or like it is their fault.

    You want to be honest with your kids, but i guess it depends on their age or understanding.

    I can empathise with you on the guilt for being ill, and meds withdrawal, though you may feel like a burdon remember the proverb- it takes a village. The people around you can help, so let them help.

    Being ill is nothing to be ashamed of. Would you be ashamed of a broken leg?

    I hope that someone can give you more insight about how to approach your children on the subject, as it may be helpful to a lot of other community members, not just dads.


    1 person found this helpful
  3. Danno13
    Danno13 avatar
    4 posts
    14 October 2020 in reply to Not_Batman

    Thx Not_Batman,

    Appreciate the feedback.

    I dont think i want to say much to my younger kids (6 and 3) but the older ones are over 15 and might be able to understand.... just feel like they deserve an explanation, however dont want to freak them out and worry them as I know they will worry and may be distressed... which would just further add to my own guilt.


  4. therising
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    therising avatar
    2315 posts
    14 October 2020 in reply to Danno13

    Hi Danno13

    I feel for you so very much, regarding both your battle with depression and being in 2 minds about telling your older kids.

    I can imagine it's an incredibly tough decision as to whether to tell your kids. For me, it was far less complicated. I left my years in depression behind me once my daughter turned 3 and my son was just a baby. My daughter will be 18 in a couple of weeks and my son is now 15. I told them about my struggles with mental health when they were in their early teens. Some details I held back on, for their sake. I had the benefit of clarity and good mental health so they were not so concerned about me, wondering how bad things were going to get.

    I found there were many benefits to telling my kids. First, I wanted them to know life can get unbearable if we're not careful, if we don't have supporters in our life, people to consciously raise us. I wanted them to know that I understand how lonely and painful things may become for them when challenges threaten to overwhelm them. I wanted them to know their mum is a sensitive person, which includes being sensitive to any help they may need at any point in time. Mental health has always been of enormous importance in our household because we are open about it. When they've been down, they have felt the freedom of being able to cry openly with me because I am sensitive and can relate to mental torture. When they have been worried about the challenges they felt they could not face alone, they have come to me knowing how much I value the mantra 'We raise each other, no matter what'.

    I can honestly say Danno that I have taught them well for they have raised me through moments of self doubt, though occasional moments where things felt like they were falling apart, throughout moments where I could not identify the challenge I faced. They have inspired my in ways that would have anyone believing they are young sages. Most kids have an amazing natural intelligence.

    I have taught both my son and daughter 'real men' vent: They cry, they scream, they feel overwhelmed and lost at times, just like real human beings do. Bottle it up and feel the dis-ease (aka real men don't cry) is no way to live, in my opinion. I believe our kids need to know this.

    There is always a chance that if you speak with your older kids, they may actually end up being the people who raise you in the most amazing unique ways. They may relate to you at times as the man who truly understands what struggle feels like.


    2 people found this helpful
  5. Danno13
    Danno13 avatar
    4 posts
    15 October 2020 in reply to therising

    Hi therising,

    So so grateful for your response! Not only honest, personal and insightful, however very clear and concise on the potential benefits. You make some really important points that I completely lost in my own overthinking and blanketed mind. I have a really good relationship with my kids and the tell me everything... some times more than what I want to hear. I thought that by telling them some of my struggles that I would burdon them more, however it seems it could have the oposite effect where it could damage our open relationship as I have not been honest with them.

    My think 3 eldest are old enough to know (aging from 16-21) and will certainly be able to comprehend what has been happening.

    You have brought clarity to an issue that has plagued me for quite some time....

    Some truely wise and inspirable words that you have penned! Again grateful for your response and for taking the time to share. Hope others might also see the light from your experience.

    Thanks once again

  6. geoff
    Life Member
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    geoff avatar
    15574 posts
    15 October 2020 in reply to Danno13

    Hello Danno, a very good question and there is a possibility that they already know something is wrong and asking questions amongst themselves, especially your older children who maybe wanting to know from your wife.

    Our moods change but if it's been for over some time, then the kids will be wanting to know why daddy isn't feeling better.

    MI maybe should begin when children are young, in the appropriate way, simply because they may show signs of concerns if parents aren't talking and the reason why it's happening.

    It's possible for them to talk with people at Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800, and to answer your question, to know at an early age is something not to be afraid of.

    Take care.


    1 person found this helpful
  7. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    3116 posts
    15 October 2020 in reply to Danno13

    Hi everyone,

    I can see that there's already so many helpful and supportive responses here so I'll keep this short.

    To answer your question Danno - yeah, there is some good evidence and research about telling kids, whether that's from yourself or someone that they can trust.

    Here's a resource about talking with MI to kids. They've broken it down into different age groups and there's a downloadable fact sheet on each page. Hopefully it can give you something extra to think about in having that conversation -

    Hope this helps a little. I'm really glad that this conversation is happening.


    2 people found this helpful
  8. Danno13
    Danno13 avatar
    4 posts
    16 October 2020 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Thx for the supporting resources and for the reply.

    All the feedback has been really useful and really appreciate the support.

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