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When My 4-Year-Old Started Imitating My Manic Episodes


A few weeks ago our 4-year-old daughter was walking around itching the side of her head. My first thought was lice! But shortly after, she walked past with her hands in fists, her head resting on them.

It clicked — she was mimicking my actions from a manic episode I had a couple days earlier. I realized I was having manic episodes at some point every day, all with her watching and listening from the other room. 

Every day as my episodes keep getting worse, it was likely she was going to have to spend some time away from me. So, I decided to tell her this:

“Mommy’s brain is sick, and it is not as happy and beautiful as yours. Mommy might need to stay at the hospital, so if I’m not here after school please don’t be afraid, I will be back.”

I proceeded to tell her I would talk to Daddy, and see if she could stay at Grandma and Grandpa’s while I was away, as that is her “happy place.” We started joking around and tickling each other, both laughing.

Suddenly she stopped, looked right into my eyes, her eyes filled with sadness, and gave me a hug topped with a kiss on my forehead.

She had given me her blessing and showed me she understood. 

The Mighty is asking the following: If you’re a parent with a mental illness, tell us about a time you tried (either successfully or unsuccessfully) to explain to your children about your mental illness/mental health issues. How did they react? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.