My kids don't understand my mental illness

Posted by twinkie @twinkie, Nov 25, 2019

In the past three days I’ve “lost” my son and daughter because they don’t understand my mental illness. So, so sad.

@twinkie

I'm kind of confused how this system works. Posted for support earlier. Still struggling. I dont see posts related to my posts. Could the moderateer help me understand what to do.

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Hi, @twinkie – the Get Started Connect section find in the box at the bottom of every page may be useful to you https://connect.mayoclinic.org/get-started-on-connect/.

Wondering if you could share more about what has happened in the past few days with your children and you? Did something happen over the weekend?

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@twinkie

I'm kind of confused how this system works. Posted for support earlier. Still struggling. I dont see posts related to my posts. Could the moderateer help me understand what to do.

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@twinkie

I read your messages. Your post got kinda sidetracked.

Your words took me back to 2005. At about this time of the year I was attempting to commit suicide. My doctor had told me that anytime I needed to talk, he'd be there to listen, and one day I had hit bottom, at least I thought I had. After I talked with him, I headed back home and arranged things to be able to admit myself to a new place operated by the hospital, and stayed there for six weeks. Their typical stay is a few days, and they were probably ready to see me gone. I just knew that if I left too soon I would be dead within a week. I managed to get out before Christmas.

As you may know, I was so far down in the darkest hole of depression, the only rational way to get out of it was death. How it affected my family wasn't within my range of vision, unfortunately. I went back to the safe house two months later, but because they botched my care so badly, I'll never go back there.

Over the past 13 years it's been a hard struggle for me. The first 5 were spent getting out of the hole, to the place where every thought wasn't connected to death. It was still very much in my mind, but I didn't have a compulsion to act on it. After several more years spent in therapy, I was able to say that the suicidal thoughts had moved to the back of my mind. That's as far as I've progressed, though I do wish I could say that I've made more progress than that. The thoughts still come, and when they do, I start thinking that they're rational thoughts, though I know they aren't.

One writer called it psyche-ache. That's a pretty good way of putting it.

Over the years, beginning with the weeks I spent in that safe house, I've been working on my safety plan. Things such as learning to acknowledge the thoughts, but then move on to other thoughts; to face the compulsions without giving in to them; to keep my family and friends ahead of the desire to die.

I surely wish it could be easier. I don't say anything to my wife about it because I know that it distresses her. I had a really good therapist last year, but he had to leave because of some family problem, and I met with his replacement for several months, but I don't connect with her, so I haven't been back to see her for a while. I know how important it is to be able to talk with someone, but I don't have any other options because the hospital clinic she works for is the only place that accepts Medicare. No way I can afford to pay for it on my own.

Before leaving the safe house that first time I had to have a support group and a safety plan. It's a good idea – if a person is willing to use them. Has your therapist helped you do things like that? If you have a safety plan or a support group, how are they working for you?

I hope this message finds its way to you. If it does, please let me know, and please know that you can write to me either through this discussion or by a private message.

Jim

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@jimhd

@twinkie

I read your messages. Your post got kinda sidetracked.

Your words took me back to 2005. At about this time of the year I was attempting to commit suicide. My doctor had told me that anytime I needed to talk, he'd be there to listen, and one day I had hit bottom, at least I thought I had. After I talked with him, I headed back home and arranged things to be able to admit myself to a new place operated by the hospital, and stayed there for six weeks. Their typical stay is a few days, and they were probably ready to see me gone. I just knew that if I left too soon I would be dead within a week. I managed to get out before Christmas.

As you may know, I was so far down in the darkest hole of depression, the only rational way to get out of it was death. How it affected my family wasn't within my range of vision, unfortunately. I went back to the safe house two months later, but because they botched my care so badly, I'll never go back there.

Over the past 13 years it's been a hard struggle for me. The first 5 were spent getting out of the hole, to the place where every thought wasn't connected to death. It was still very much in my mind, but I didn't have a compulsion to act on it. After several more years spent in therapy, I was able to say that the suicidal thoughts had moved to the back of my mind. That's as far as I've progressed, though I do wish I could say that I've made more progress than that. The thoughts still come, and when they do, I start thinking that they're rational thoughts, though I know they aren't.

One writer called it psyche-ache. That's a pretty good way of putting it.

Over the years, beginning with the weeks I spent in that safe house, I've been working on my safety plan. Things such as learning to acknowledge the thoughts, but then move on to other thoughts; to face the compulsions without giving in to them; to keep my family and friends ahead of the desire to die.

I surely wish it could be easier. I don't say anything to my wife about it because I know that it distresses her. I had a really good therapist last year, but he had to leave because of some family problem, and I met with his replacement for several months, but I don't connect with her, so I haven't been back to see her for a while. I know how important it is to be able to talk with someone, but I don't have any other options because the hospital clinic she works for is the only place that accepts Medicare. No way I can afford to pay for it on my own.

Before leaving the safe house that first time I had to have a support group and a safety plan. It's a good idea – if a person is willing to use them. Has your therapist helped you do things like that? If you have a safety plan or a support group, how are they working for you?

I hope this message finds its way to you. If it does, please let me know, and please know that you can write to me either through this discussion or by a private message.

Jim

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Dear Jim,

Thank you for acknowledging me. I did feel like I got sidetracked and forgotten about. I just saw my therapist . It helped. I'm now staying at a crisis center until Saturday. I think it's a pretty good plan to keep me safe from self harm. The only thing is that it's pretty lonely as most people all but two dont come out. And anyway I'm feeling pretty lonely because I have no family connections for the holidays. This causes me to feel sad and broken hearted. I miss my kids so much. But since last Thursday two of them have indicated that they dont want me in their life. It feels as if they have died. I am so grievious. The only thing I know that I have done wrong is have a mental illness. I have supported and loved them unconditionally beyond jugement.

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@twinkie

My son has very little understanding – he had moved from home and lived for a time with a family I didn't know, and the father spouted out to him that I needed to pray more. This was after I'd told him about my depression and that I'd prefer that he not tell people who didn't need to know.

I told my son in no uncertain terms that whatever that man said, don't believe it. The father was, and I assume is still totally uneducated concerning mental disorders. The stigma of depression and all the other mental illness is alive and well.

That was a long time ago, in the 90's, and since then he seems to ignore my problems. We visited him and his wife and daughter 5 years ago and he really didn't want me to have my service dog in his house. He doesn't seem to have been educated at all regarding depression, PTSD, anxiety or any other brain sickness. His wife is a nurse practitioner, and I don't see that she's been any help. I think that she sees the "got it all together" mask I wear when we're together. No desire to discuss it with me.

But they live in Indianapolis, Indiana, so we don't see much of them. I think that's best.

Our daughter, on the other hand, experienced significant depression in high school, so she gets it. She came back home to help us pack up our belongings and move it to the home where we live, now and " 'til death do us part". We made more than 30 trips to get moved, a 350 mile drive round trip. She and her husband and 2 daughters are working slowly to come here for Thanksgiving. Yesterday they had to stop and get a motel room because all roads from there to here were closed for snow and accidents. They're just over an hour from here, stuck behind two snow plows.

Anyway, I'm blessed with two kids, who have very, very different world views, but they know that we love them. They both call frequently and my wife talks with them nearly every day, visits with our daughter for 3 to 5 hours. I'm not a telephone person, so I don't talk with them nearly as much as my wife.

Sorry, I didn't intend to write my autobiography, but sometimes I just can't stop.

I know that certain times of the year are less than joyful for any number of reasons. My mother died 3 days before Christmas several years ago, and Dad's life on this earth ended on Father's Day. Losing them both affects me still. My father died before I sank down in depression, but my mother was still alive. I wanted to stay alive so they wouldn't have to deal with the tragical suicide of their oldest son. I was still alive in spite of myself, when I self-admitted to the safe house, and Mom called me every day while I was there. I knew how hard it would be for her, but my brain was in an irrational state.

Now, I work to stay alive because I've had time to look at it with a rational mind. Can you count how many people, events and things that you don't want to miss? By now, I can see far enough ahead to tell myself that I don't want to miss things like the next holiday, seeing my 3 granddaughters grow, and so on. To begin with I could only promise to stay alive until tomorrow. Very gradually, over a long time I've been able to look ahead a month or more. That's a big accomplishment that I had to have help with. Therapists and my wife have helped me keep going. Can you make a goal to tell yourself that you want to be around for one day? Maybe you're able to project a goal a little farther than that. I learned from mental health people to rate my day, on a scale of 1-10. (I've been a six for several years.) At bedtime, I look back over my day and write a number in my journal. Doing that has helped me to look back and see how far I've come. I guess 6 is my new 9. Level 4 was a dangerous place for me. It means that I'm preparing my death.

There are more people here in Connect who have gone through times like this, and I hope others will speak up. I started a discussion a couple of years ago in the mental health space to find support in my struggles with depression and suicidal ideation. You can probably find it and you might want to ask for help from others who may not be in this discussion.

Jim

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@georgette12

By the way, @peach414144 , I definitely think your dog and red cat need you at home and you also need them. Good for you! I work in Assisted living facilities and agree with your choice . Your passion to help people will open the door for you. There are all sorts of things you can do without even leaving the house.

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Thank you Georgette,you are right as I do love my babies red cat and margarite dog and we need each other.

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@jimhd

@peach414144

Is your ex-husband still living? Telling your adult kids the truth would be kind of scary for me. Do you have a will? Your story could be included with it.

Do you have friends who knew what was going on with your husband back at the time you left him?

You said that you've talked about this with your psychiatrist. I wonder if your family would be willing to sit in some sessions, perhaps your doctor would agree to be a facilitator when you're ready to tell them the truth about their father. I don't remember if you have said if they have ever seen him. Such a sad, messed up world we live in.

Jim

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Hello Jim Peach here. Their father died about forty years ago and they knew of this. He lived with a woman who had two young sons for about nine years and then she threw him out. (I would love to know why.) Any way even if I would have a funeral they will not be there. My son told me so. I know I should write a very exposing letter to them. My dead husbands family was very small and they are all gone. My family is also very few left. Don't forget I am 82 years old now. Your suggestion of having my psychiatrist mentor this is a wonderful suggestion. Of course I will attempt this but they will not talk to me and will be very negative to any of this. Will try anyway. Thank you. Peach

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@georgette12

By the way, @peach414144 , I definitely think your dog and red cat need you at home and you also need them. Good for you! I work in Assisted living facilities and agree with your choice . Your passion to help people will open the door for you. There are all sorts of things you can do without even leaving the house.

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Dear Georgette, Yes you are correct. My kids should know the whole truth. No matter what the outcome is. When I hear some one else say this it enforces my way of thinking. I thank you Peach

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@jimhd

@peach414144

Is your ex-husband still living? Telling your adult kids the truth would be kind of scary for me. Do you have a will? Your story could be included with it.

Do you have friends who knew what was going on with your husband back at the time you left him?

You said that you've talked about this with your psychiatrist. I wonder if your family would be willing to sit in some sessions, perhaps your doctor would agree to be a facilitator when you're ready to tell them the truth about their father. I don't remember if you have said if they have ever seen him. Such a sad, messed up world we live in.

Jim

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Yes Jim, the people who told me what they saw my husband doing were my friends and neighbors. Thank you. Peach

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@jimhd

@peach414144

What a challenging decision! Finding a reputable counselor would be a reputable counselor, maybe a family counselor. I'd suggest that you talk with the counselor alone before you say anything to your kids.

A counselor might work with you on the reasons for telling your kids, as well as reasons not to tell them; are you doing it for your own benefit; how telling them might affect you – or how not telling could affect you. Those are just a few questions you could be asked to explore. I'm not saying that you should answer any of that kind of question to us – unless you want to. We're just here to listen and lend our support. I'll be praying for you, that God will give you wisdom in handling this.

PS I wrote this before I read your post. It's good that you have a good psychiatrist. Have they ever suggested that you see a family counselor?

Jim

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Hi Jim, Yes to see a family counselor. I have done this many years ago but none of them would answer to this and I was ignored. Now it is much later in our lives and I want to try again.

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@georgette12

@peach414144 . I believe in my heart that our children need to know the truth. I had to tell my 6 year old son that his father had just killed himself . This same son has a brother who killed himself 3 years ago in the same tragic manner. I'm 75 and have had lots of practice trying to decide whether I should tell my children the truth. In my own opinion, children need to know who their parents are. They are then invited to decide with knowledge, how to move into the future. By the way, I'm thinking you deserve to be loved for the loving mom you always have been. And as for your son, he sounds like an incredibly strong person, and you could both love and lean on and support each other. Blessings.

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Hello Georgette 12 this is Peach. I think you did the right thing when you told your young son the truth. It is what is is, Good luck. Peach

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@twinkie

Dear Jim,

Thank you for acknowledging me. I did feel like I got sidetracked and forgotten about. I just saw my therapist . It helped. I'm now staying at a crisis center until Saturday. I think it's a pretty good plan to keep me safe from self harm. The only thing is that it's pretty lonely as most people all but two dont come out. And anyway I'm feeling pretty lonely because I have no family connections for the holidays. This causes me to feel sad and broken hearted. I miss my kids so much. But since last Thursday two of them have indicated that they dont want me in their life. It feels as if they have died. I am so grievious. The only thing I know that I have done wrong is have a mental illness. I have supported and loved them unconditionally beyond jugement.

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@twinkie That was a smart decision, to stay in a crisis center for a few days. I hope that while there you are able to connect with others who can become a "new" type of family for you. Like @jimhd has said, support is so critical to find, both professional and others in similar situations as yourself. I have few family connections myself, and years ago my twin brother told both me and a potential employer that I have mental issues, and he wouldn't trust me. Haven't heard from him in over 20 years. So I had to extend myself to find others of my like mind. It's hard to do, and being vulnerable like that is scary. I hope the next few days bring you some comfort, and help you see a different path to take and feel better. We care about you and want to hear how it goes for you.
Ginger

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This Thanksgiving I want to thank our forum members and mentors for sharing such deep and searing feelings. There are no words that adequately express my appreciation for those who have opened their hearts and bared their souls. Many blessings.

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@twinkie I hope your stay will be healing. When we're at the place, so close to the brink, we truly need to be with people who understand where we are, people who are equipped to pull us back from the brink of death. Even so, you need to speak up either in group sessions or in a private time with counselors, and be sure that they know just how fragile you are. They may not realize the severity of your struggle.

The place I went to was not a residential facility, but organized only for short term crisis intervention. Can you stay longer if you feel you need to? I pray the best for you 🙏

Jim

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@twinkie

Dear Jim,

Thank you for acknowledging me. I did feel like I got sidetracked and forgotten about. I just saw my therapist . It helped. I'm now staying at a crisis center until Saturday. I think it's a pretty good plan to keep me safe from self harm. The only thing is that it's pretty lonely as most people all but two dont come out. And anyway I'm feeling pretty lonely because I have no family connections for the holidays. This causes me to feel sad and broken hearted. I miss my kids so much. But since last Thursday two of them have indicated that they dont want me in their life. It feels as if they have died. I am so grievious. The only thing I know that I have done wrong is have a mental illness. I have supported and loved them unconditionally beyond jugement.

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Hi @twinkie, I wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you today and that you're not alone. I and other members of this community are only a cyber click away. Are there any activities or a special meal planned at the crisis center today? How are you doing?

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@colleenyoung

Hi @twinkie, I wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you today and that you're not alone. I and other members of this community are only a cyber click away. Are there any activities or a special meal planned at the crisis center today? How are you doing?

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Hi Colleen. No activities. Pretty boring. Doing lots of reading and listening to music. Not relating to any staff or clients. Did a telepsyce with my provider and that was helpful. I like her and have known her a long time. She got me out of bed to shower and recommended a new book. I'm still so sad, lonely and heartbroken. I wish I had a family. It's hard not to, especially today 🙁

Tina

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