How my mental health affects Mr 6 is something that plays on my mind a lot. He does take on a lot for a child. I don’t burden him with exactly what is going on, but he does know when Mummy isn’t feeling well. My mum has depression wasn’t something that was said out loud.
He knows that on the worst days it means more Ipad time. I hate that he knows that. I have thought about how I was going to explain it to him as he got older. He just keeps getting bigger, knowing more and still I was at a loss as to how to explain it to him, in a way that he would understand. I’m worried about scaring him with too much information or not enough. I don’t want him feeling like any of this is his fault.
When I heard about Nina Mitchell’s book called My Mum has Depression I was intrigued. Nina is a primary school teacher from Queensland who also has depression. She has 3 boys and while receiving treatment she struggled to explain the complexities of depression to them. This is where the idea of the book was born. Nina wanted to help other parents who had been in her position.
My Mum has Depression is written from the point of view of a young boy whose mother has been diagnosed with depression. Each page talks about different analogies to help your child relate depression to their world. It shows the negative things that depression can do to someone.
My favourite part of My Mum has Depression is that Nina has used objects to help a child relate to depression. One of my biggest concerns is that Mr 6 will think that my being unwell is something that he has done. It talks about the weight, and the noise of depression without laying blame.
Along with the negative ways that depression makes his mum feel, My Mum has Depression also talks about the things that make us smile. Nina uses the character to remind the reader that even though their mum has depression, she is still his mum. I like that it ends this way, helping to separate depression from the person that the child knows and loves.
I don’t know if Mr 6 really understands what it means to say that his mum has depression, but Nina’s book has opened up a dialogue between us. It helped me to make that first step that I was quite anxious about and so avoiding.
My Mum has Depression is available for sale from Nina Mitchell’s site Nuts about Nina for $15 + $5 postage. Nina also has a Facebook Page. If you or someone you know would benefit from this book, I urge you to share it. It is Nina’s mission to have this book in every Public and School Library in Australia.
If you have a mental illness, how did you speak to your children about it?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT!