I don't want to make this too long, but I have struggled with depression since about age 12, and I have taken antidepressants for 20 years now. (I'm 37). I recently had a bad episode and have found out that I actually have bipolar 2 disorder. It was like my meds stopped working completely, and I spent 5 days in the hospital. I have worked so hard my entire life to take care of this, and now especially because of my three kids, who are my life. I did what I needed to do to take care of myself and got my meds changed and I am on the the road to recovery.
I am divorced and have three children. While I was in the hospital, the kids were with their dad. He was very abusive to me on the phone, saying the kids need to come live with him because I can't handle it, I am a neglectful parent, etc. etc. Since returning home, my daughter has been a mess. She is more clingy than usual because she missed me, but she has also been acting out, saying she is a bad person, a naughty girl, and it's her fault I was in the hospital. She cries at night and I spend hours comforting her. She is a dramatic person, anyway, but I worry that things her dad said or she heard him say have upset her. She will hit herself on the head and say she is stupid and say, "I don't want to feel like this anymore!" and that she feels sad all the time.
Grace and I are very close, and always have been. There is so much depression and anxiety in the family. Could she really be depressed, or is it something that will pass? It hurts to see her in so much pain.
Her life was recently very shook up. You two are very close and then you were unable to be there with her for five days, and that had to have been traumatic. It sounds like you are doing everything right to help her heal. She probably had to put all her fears and sadness on hold while she was with her dad, and now that she is home safe with you, she's letting it come out.
Agreed. She's probably just trying to process this all. I'm not sure how "out"(<----for lack of a better word) you were about your depression issues and if you labeled the condition to your chidlren but if it wasn't really spoken about much, they could be just getting used to the idea now and struggling with it. Recently I spent time at the psych hospital as well for 5 days and my kids also were spending time at daddy's house so it was a big change from having mama home all the time when they got off the bus or to drop them off at school. And even though we were very verbal and open about my mental health, they struggled with the change and the fear. It's traumatic for little people who need that consistency. They needed about a month to really stop being clingy or acting out here and there. I'd say if it goes any longer than that, you may want to see about getting your daughter a therapist of her own who specializes in play therapy to help her learn to verbalize her feelings better and that your own mental health problems are not her fault. I'm not sure how you worded it to your kids but mine are 12, 8, and 5 and they know the official diagnosis and that it means there's a problem with the chemicals in mama's brain and how they make me think and that's why I sometimes act differently than other people and why I struggle with certain things. They know I'll probably always take medicine to fix the chemicals in my brain and that's why I see my doctors so much but that I'm otherwise healthy and well and not sick. They were worried that I was sick and something was going to happen to me at first and my therapist and I worked out a plan of how to talk to them because NOT accepting and verbalizing it wasn't helping anyone. Kids may not come right out and tell you the things they see in you but it doesn't mean they don't see them. They are extremely intuitive and their fear sometimes manifests as misplaced guilt. They need you to tell them that it's not their fault or even in their control at all and that you love them unconditionally and that it's okay to be scared. It's probably similar to the conversation you had regarding your divorce actually.
Oh and I'm not sure how amicable you are with your ex but don't discount the things he may be saying to the kids or in the presence of the kids that they may be internalizing. My exhusband wasn't supportive at ALL of my mental health problems in the past up until probably 8 or 9 months ago. It was hard to have him be so negative about things out of my control and not understand at all what I was dealing with. I think now he's really starting to get it and he's much more supportive and more likely to give me a quiet "warning" about my behavior(in the manner of "hey, do you think that it's really worth that much of your time?" or "You sound like you are getting overwhelmed. Want me try to get out of work early to pick up the kids?") instead of flipping out and yelling at me or picking a fight. Maybe your exhusband could be your ally in dealing with this. Obviously you both need to parent your daughter together and this is a major issue in her life right now so maybe daddy could come over and you three could sit down and discuss the recent inpatient stay and how it affected EVERYONE and why it's not anyone's fault and how you can all move forward in a positive manner.
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