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<p>My DS who is 8yo asked me recently what mental illness means....does it mean someone who is "crazy." As someone who is mentally ill  was hesitant to "go there" but I did and I think he know has a better grasp on the true meaning. I have to admit I fumbled a bit in the conversation because I wasn't sure how to handle it, but I went with an honest approach and tried not to scare him. I left out the scary stuff like sometimes mom can see people who aren't there and hears voices that no one else can hear. I told him the reason I have to take medication and will for the rest of my life and why it is I go to the "doctor" so often. He wanted to know if it is passed on to children and I almost cried. I kept it together but the thought of my children suffering they way I had before I was diagnosed and medicated is very difficult. I said to him it can be passed down and that I have had mental illness on both sides of my family. I just don't know. He asked if I was crazy.<span><img alt="lol.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="width:15px;height:31px;"></span> I said, I suppose you could say that but I'm ok with it and so should he and not to worry about me because I take good care of myself to keep the craziness at bay.</p>
 

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<p>Beginning at about age 4, I explained to DS that mentally ill means that something doesn't work right in someone's brain and that it sometimes mean that people who are mentally ill need to take medicine or do other things to get better. I also explained that sometimes crying or being really angry for no reason are a way of being "sick." </p>
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<p>I won't stand for being called crazy or nuts, and I wouldn't be okay with my kids using it to describe people either. </p>
 

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<p>A poignant conversation. My older dd and I have talks like this sometimes too.</p>
 

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<p>I didn't mean to offend with the term "crazy or nuts." It's just a term we use in our home. I guess it is kind of a way to make light of what "mom" is. It is meant to be both funny but serious. I have heard my son stand up for a homeless mentally ill man in front of his friends. I was standing back (as I was walking up to him from behind) and I heard him telling the other kids that "Jumbo" (the homeless and mentally ill man) was just like us with problems. We need to be nice to him because he may not be nice to himself sometimes....let's give him our snacks. Melted my heart. <span><img alt="hug2.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/hug2.gif" style="width:38px;height:16px;"></span></p>
 
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