How Do You Explain Crippling Depression To A Child?

Two posts in a day, how dare I! Well, considering how few read my posts (and okay, to be fair I, perhaps wrongly, base this on whether someone can be bothered to click *like* or leave a comment, my bad)…When writing mode strikes, I am going with it and call it flood posting, I give zero fucks.

Today I truly was face down in the gutter. Depression, gray gloomy weather, not getting enough restful sleep…I was just wiped out. So I tried to distract myself with CSI:Cyber and chain smoking. Finally, I just gave in to the fact that I was exhausted. There you have it, the woman who does not work was EXHAUSTED. The body runs at a sleep deficit so when you don’t get proper sleep long enough, it takes a toll and yeah, maybe you need a nap.

Or in my case, two brief periods of sleepy respite where I was semi asleep and yet awake enough to bolt up when my background noise of the show ran out so I clicked for the next episode and went back to half snooze mode. The whole time, worrying what if my alarm fails and I am late picking up my kid…True rest simply is not possible in my current state.

As usual when I picked my kid up…she gives me a barrage of questions. “Do we have to go anywhere?’ Nope. “Did you go somewhere?” (meaning “did you get me something.” Nope. Then indignant ‘WHY NOT’.

I went with the usual vague “mommy doesn’t feel so good.” Which considering how my gastrointestinal problems seem set off randomly be it food or stress…isn’t far off.

I know she gets sick of hearing it, so I tried to elaborate by explaining depression to a 7 year old. Yeah, I know, it’s my job to shield her from the harsh realities of my battles lest it saddle her with guilt or responsibility…I just know how much it hurt me when my parents fibbed or blatantly lied to me so I want to break that cycle.

I told her “depression is like being locked in a dark closet and there’s no handle on the inside. You scream, no one hears you. You kick and pummel with your fists (metaphorically) and still, the closet won’t let you out. It is dark, damp, uncomfortable, scary…And you can hear everyone on the outside telling you to let yourself, get over it, stop being a wimp, et al…

But until that closet door decides to open on its own timer…You are lost, trapped, and you mean no harm or bother to anyone. YOU hate it more than anyone around you possibly could because you might be a bother to others…But you are the who IS TRAPPED.

Did I lay too much on a 7 year old?

I doubt it. My kid has many amazing qualities  but empathy thus far is not one of them. Others have noticed it as well. If she can’t muster empathy, then her feelings of guilt as this young age would be nil. Meaning I am simply telling her an ugly truth none of us want to face or admit and yet…it is what it is.

One day she may remember this talk. One day she may be in that dark closet herself and remember mommy is the one to talk to because mommy KNOWS. Even if by the grace of pegacorn she isn’t cursed with bipolar depression, perhaps I can instill in her an understanding and a sense of compassion.

Or the flipside is I leave her with mental scars thus causing her to hate me and anyone who isn’t a shiny happy people whether it is our fault or not. I just believe in being honest. I tell her constantly not to butt in to my adult business for the bills, lack of money,etc, are not her concern. That is on  me and I want to shelter her from it. Let her be a kid.

She’s just a kid, for better or worse, has a mom with faulty brain wiring.

I will emerge from the dark closet of depression when whatever arbitrary time lock the depression has engaged and things will be better again, I just don’t know when. Until then…I hope I have explained to my daughter than my depression is NOT her fault and it’s just something I have to deal with.

If I have scarred her for life…Well, add me to the list of a zillion other parents whose motives were far less well intentioned than mine.

3 Responses to “How Do You Explain Crippling Depression To A Child?”

  1. Great job explaining to Spook what it’s like. I used the weighted blanket theory with Monkey. We are doing our best, and dammit, you needed the pseudo naps today. {HUGS}

  2. what??? hey pal, slow your roll! two in a day vs my 0 in a week, ffs we already know you’re awesome. I LOVED your explanation to Spook, it’s perfect. I wish I knew more about this just for selfish reasons. The period of my wave is either feeling or becoming very fucking random; I never know if it’s a day of mania or an hour, and the same for the depression or feeling “‘only’ mostly dead”, although I wanted to think it was more regular and predictable. Cyclothymia sucks ass, I can only pray for you HARD because I know bipolar is random Mount Everest or lower to freezing cold feels like forever Death Valley vs my gently rolling (fucking roller coaster) foothills.

  3. I have so much respect in trying to shield kids. I got stuck being the adult that both parents complained two about all the things from a young age, to include how terrible the other was with money.

    Also, awesome metaphor. But you’ve generally got a way with words. 🙂

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