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Time to fess up. Friday June 23, 2017

I was horrified the other day when I inadvertently let slip to my 11 year old son I was having counselling.

Dashing out of the school gates one afternoon. "Come on," I said. "I'm going to be late for my counselling session."

"What's counselling?" he said.

For the past few months I have been sneaking off on a Wednesday to 'go to the supermarket' or 'nip to the doctors' I'd never told him where I was really going.

I didn't want him to think I was weak, failing as an adult or a bad mother for not coping. So cue conversation about counselling.

"Mum sometimes worries about things too much and it makes me a bit poorly. It started when your Grandma died long before you were born. "I speak to someone and he helps me sort it out in my head and that makes me feel better."

A simplified explanation that satisfied him and he quickly returned to discussing more important issues in his life - Star Wars and Lego.

In hindsight I should have had this conversation long ago. I should have made mental health issues something freely discussed within our family unit without judgement.

The fact is discussing mental health issues with children is much easier than with adults. It does need simplifying but they do not get embarrassed and do not judge – they just accept.

I plan to keep this conversation going as he approaches his pre-teens. I hope by sharing some of my experiences he won't feel uncomfortable or embarrassed if he has a mental health issue and he will have the confidence to seek help.

There is lots in the media about the importance of discussing mental health issues. Surely it's crucial these conversations also take place with the children in our lives so if they hit difficult times, as children or as adults, it becomes as easy to talk about as... Star Wars or Lego.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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the room above the garage Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 6:25am

Hello Rosie, I agree! I'm so glad it popped up and in one sweep you have normalised it. Wonderful! Love it :-) love ratg x.

Bearofliddlebrain Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 6:44am

Hi Rosie,....what a lovely way of telling your son....truthful, honest and not scary.

I blundered into telling my daughter about my husband; when I realised what I'd inadvertently said, and thought of the consequences of my husband finding out I had let her know, I burst into tears. We talked about it and she said she wouldn't let on but that she would keep an eye in him. I was worried because it wasn't MY story to tell her, and I knew he would be angry.

He eventually told her: it wasn't the big deal for him that he thought it would she was so accepting - mind you, she was in her mid teens and had been doing psychology at school.

Bear hugs to all xx

Mary Wednesday Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 12:45pm

Oh bear - how wonderful to see you again. Have a huge bear hug!

Eva Sat, Jun 24th 2017 @ 12:27am

Yeay Bear, sending you hugs too

LP Sat, Jun 24th 2017 @ 8:45am

Sending big hugs back lovely Bear. Your daughter sounds wonderful. Maybe you're not so hard on yourself these days? It's great the way things work out for the best LillyPet xxx

Orangeblossom Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 7:04am

Thanks Rosie for the simply refreshing way you expressed your need for counselling. A great way to define it in relation to your own needs. Yes, children are more able to accept us without prejudice.

Charlie Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 7:24am

Absolutely right Rosie. Sharing with our children and grand-daughter exactly as you describe as they've grown up has certainly helped them understand that you don't have to be visibly damaged to be poorly.
One thing one does have to be very careful about is to emphasise, concurrently, that there are limitations as to how much they, as youngsters, and in particular as they enter the emotional teenage years, can actually do to help. They have to realise that there are experts as well as family, and it's a team effort. Just being there and understanding is enough - they can't take the problems of the world on their shoulders.

Jane SG Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 7:39am

Hi Rosie, did you know that there are many great inspirational quotes from Star Wars. So many to chose from but today I chose this one ' in a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.' - Master Yoda.

Jane SG Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 7:44am

And the Lego Movie song- 'everything is awesome, everything is cool when you're part of a team!' I'm glad to be part of team Moodscope! Thanks for the blog Rosie. I agree with being honest with children and adapting honesty acoordging to their age etc. Xx

Salt Water Mum Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 8:18am

Hi Rosie,

Thank you for your blog. I hear you! I have told my daughter I go to a counsellor. Like you, I kept it real and simple. She was surprised. And I was surprised that she was surprised!! She said 'why would you need to go to a counsellor? you are so confident.' I was so taken aback. I never would think of myself as confident. I explained that sometimes how we seem on the outside doesn't match how we feel on the inside.
My son, on hearing talk of counsellors, just sort of grunted and got back to his Star wars and Lego!!!

Jane, I love the Star Wars quotes. And Yoda is so wise and funny - “When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not”


David Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 8:18am

Yes, Rosie to educating the young.

Sheena Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 8:57am

Hi Rosie I did like your blog. It seems that you will now have one less thing to worry about. What a bonus to have opened up communications with your son. I think it is very good parenting to allow the younger generation to express themselves honestly at home. Your own honesty with him is such a lovely encouragement and example. Well done :) Sheena

The Gardener Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 12:59pm

Bear, great to see you back. Silly aside - Mr G was worse than ever on my birthday - looked back 4 years of diaries - he 'flips' when I have a birthday - try to keep a VERY low profile, but family and friends contact. Anyway, lateral thinking, was Eyeore, when Tigger ate his thistle. 'I was saving it for my birthday, but, after all, what are birthdays?' So glad people are able to share with younger generation - when I was depressed the perceived wisdom was to hide it from children. Kids are not fools, and instead of being scared when Mum went off to cry in the corner of a field, or was zonked with vallium, would have been healthier for us all, in hindsight, to have all learned to live with it. My 'fessing up' is different now - cannot hide my situation, but try to keep 'smiling through'. I am now dealing with an elderly gentleman who acts like a toddler yelling at the supermarket check-out. Happened in street this morning, neighbour rushed up, hugs and kisses - so I may let the 'mask' slip more, but SO scared of being a perpetual moaner.

Mary Wednesday Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 @ 1:18pm

Open communication with children and young adults about mental health is vital. In my family we don't really have much choice as Mummy gets so ill with it. So my kids are pretty well informed. I have been so proud of my eldest daughter who has supported one of her school friends through a breakdown and severe eating disorder (the girl has been hospitalised for the last four months but comes home for occasional weekends). All but two of her friends fell away; my daughter and her best friend have stayed true.

Eva Sat, Jun 24th 2017 @ 12:29am

It's good to be open but hard sometimes, my score dropped tonight and my friend will check on me tomorrow and I'll have to explain, sometimes it's tedious to have to explain and reassure...

LP Sat, Jun 24th 2017 @ 8:49am

Hi Rosie
I wrote a reply yesterday that I must have forgotten to post after trying to fix wifi connection! What a wonderful simple and accurate reply you gave to your son. Lovely, LP xx

Sal Sat, Jun 24th 2017 @ 8:54am

Thank you Rosie, what a lovely blog! I felt a little glow of warmth on reading it :)

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