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To those with kids

2779 Views 30 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  RageOfCreation
I have a 12 year old daughter (who is very mature and intelligent for her age) and she is aware that I have some very serious problems but really doesn't know what they are beyond anxiety.
For those with kids.... Do you feel it safe and easy to explain DP to your kids? How have they reacted?
Should I show her the "definition" of DP from this site? It so clearly explains how I feel and I think my daughter would understand a bit better if (along with my help and further information) she could read the definition from the site.
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Did your other children discuss their DP with her? If she doesn't know details of their DP, I'd go easy on burdening her with too much.

"I just don't feel quite right," is something a 12-year-old can identify with. I think she's too young for anything but the rough outlines. You could tell her analogous experiences, when perhaps she's been nervous or uptight, but I wouldn't expect a 12-year-old to be able to process any technical information about the illness.

Recent studies on brain development in adolescents have shown that kids are quite limited in their ability to think through things until they are well beyond the teen years. It's kind of funny; we let them vote when their brains aren't fully developed and they are cognitively less acute than they will be in five years or so.

But because she will tend to catastrophize whatever you tell her, because her brain is not fully developed yet, I think you will actually harm her by telling her the gory details. Tell her the rough outlines.

Perhaps there are booklets you can locate that are written specifically for children that deal with mental issues.

Now, if your 12-year-old has heard about DP in detail from her siblings, then she's already acquainted with what they said, so all of our comments may be quite beside the point, and because she's already heard it, your telling her that you suffer from it too should not scare her if she's NOW aware her brother and sister had it also.

In the end, it's your call. I think all the comments on this have been trying to convey the idea that the potential to frighten a child by telling him or her about a parent's illness may cause unnecessary emotional turmoil and trouble her heart deeply. You are her protector, and she doesn't benefit by having a reason to worry that you're going to go off your rocker.
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Yes, I agree, it's a rather pointless and groundless belief, yet fiction can often serve to drive that point home in an indirect way, much the way C. S. Lewis' fiction is driven by orthodox Christian faith, which is no less "fantastic," but held firmly because people have EXPERIENCED God's reality (to them).

The conviction that some people have about God's reality is analogous to the conviction we have when we are "ourselves," and recognize ourselves, but it's the recognition not of a "wish fulfilled," but of a Holy Other, a Holy Mystery, who fills the heart with divine love.

Oh, dear -- I've said too much about God again. Apologies!

I am going to guess that some behavior of your daughter's toward you is causing you to think that you'd better say something. Is that right?

More important than telling her anything at all about your having an illness is your telling her and demonstrating to her often -- and perhaps when you least feel like it -- that you love her.

The most important thing you can teach her is not about DP at all. It's about the fact that your illness does not deprive her of what she needs the most -- your love.

She needs that more than she needs to know her own name.

I know the panic attack thing very well. It seemed like I was one millimeter from total disintegration and annihilation.

Is there any reason you don't have emergency medicine there for when you need it?

My panic attacks didn't respond to psychological techniques and I could not tolerate them, so I had to have a drug available just for emergency use (because they're so easy to get addicted to).

Can you do something like that?

I would strongly advise you to talk with your doctor about the best way of dealing with trying to provide a good environment for adolscent children when a parent is ill. Get some professional advice, because there's bound to be information available about what has been proven to work best.

I hope you can find good mix of self-revelation and reassurance for your daughter. But it seems to me that she should never observe you freaking out during a panic attack -- and you shouldn't suffer them yourself. Constantly reexperiencing panic attacks is not good for us. We develop an automatic response and although we hate it, we get used to and accustomed to the panic, horrible as it is. What I would do is get rid of the panic symptoms entirely and go from there. Why go through them at all? There is just no need to.
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