My kids (ages 7 & 9) came home the other day from school and dropped a bomb on me.
“Mommy, are you going to kill yourself?”
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I did some investigating and figured out that they had gotten wind that a local girl had committed suicide. The assumed that since she had depression and killed herself, that I would too.
I have been discussing depression and mental illness with my girls, but I thought we were a long way away from discussing something as serious a suicide. I was secretly hoping the topic would never come up (as least until they were much older).
But I did the best I knew how. I explained things truthfully, in terms they could understand, without over sharing. Much like explaining the birds and the bees.
I explained to them that there were different level of sadness. One of the important things about treating depression, is being able to recognize when you are getting TOO sad and seeking help. I told them that is why I had been in the hospital before… I had gotten too sad and went to get help from special doctors.
I promised them that I would continue to monitor my symptoms and get help when I need it.
Thankfully, that answer was good enough for them. They moved on to playing with their new birthday toys. Whew!