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To the Child Whose Mother Has a Mental Illness

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author holding child

Dear sweet child,

You bring the brightest light to my darkest days. I wish there were words you would understand to tell you Mommy is always going to be sick. I go to the doctors every week (my therapist), and your eyes widen because to you that is so scary. Don’t be scared, my child. I am OK.

I also want you to know it’s OK to not be OK. Some days I spend laying in my bed and Daddy tells you I “don’t feel well, Mommy is resting.” I wish I had the energy to be up and about. I wish I could take you to the park, or the aquarium, or the mall, but my OCD/depression/agoraphobia/emetophobia stop me in my tracks. I wish I was a “normal” mom. I wish we had play dates with kids with runny noses. I wish I wasn’t immediately pulled into panic mode when you want to touch the carriage at the grocery store. I’m sorry you ask me if I’m sad. I’m not sad; I’m just constantly worried.

Daddy does all of these things with you no problem. You two have so much fun. I hate to say I’m jealous of the bond you share. He is my knight in shining armor.

I’m sorry that when you are sick, Mommy wants to hide. I’m sorry that sometimes when you cough or gag, I cry. You see, Mommy is afraid of throw up, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. My brain just works differently than yours because, like I’ve told you, everybody is different. I’m sorry the doctors office scares me more than it scares you. I’m sorry you have started opening doors with your sleeves because you look up to me and I’m shielding us from germs. You are so brave. Please remember that.

I’m sorry I get snappy when I am depressed or anxious because my mind is going a mile a minute and your little voice gets mixed in the tornado inside my head. I’m really snapping at myself, but it comes out to you (and Daddy).

Please know I love you with all of my heart, and the sickness will never take that away. Please remember if any of these sicknesses are passed on to you, I will do anything to help you slay them like the dragons in your fairytales. Some day you may need your very own fairy dust to cast out the bad guys and help you fly just like Tink. Just like me. My fairy dust comes in pill form, but it does the same thing.

Always remember that whatever comes our way, we will conquer it. I may always be sick and you may see it some days, but I will always be your mother. I will always love you. You are my happily ever after.


The Mighty is asking the following: How would you describe your disability, disease or mental illness to a child? If you’ve done this before, tell us about that moment and the child’s reaction. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 12, 2016
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