You Got Some ‘Splainin to Do

i-love-lucy

This morning my daughter sat down to some interesting breakfast reading.

Coming home late after an evening “med check” appointment with my physician, I had left the visit summary on the dining room table.  Yesterday’s visit went swimmingly well.  No problems to report.  Successful treatment measures.  A-ok – until the next six month visit.

The chart information on the second half of the sheet told a different story, though; that of my history.  The medication I’m on; my ‘problem list’.

Depressive Disorder Not Elsewhere Classified.

I’m hoping that eight years old is not old enough to know what that means.  Hell, I don’t really know what that means.  The first time I saw it, I stopped in my tracks.  I remember the NOS designation on IEPs from my teaching days.  I remember the frustration of parents and teachers who knew something was up, but no diagnosis could be made.  How would this individual get the help he or she needed without a direction to go in?

Now that was me!

My eight year old wouldn’t be able to recognize the name of the medication I’m on either, Sertraline sounding more like a foreign language than a medicine to help her mother get through life.

Thank God, in this case, for medical illiteracy.  I’m all for blowing apart the stigma, but haven’t quite figured out how to explain it to my young children yet.  How much information would help them see it’s perfectly acceptable to struggle and receive help and how much would open them to an overwhelming, suffocating side of this world they don’t need to know exists yet?

I didn’t know there was a family history of whatever the hell ails my family until I was an adult starting to suffer from similar problems myself.  As a child, there was an underlying tension at family gatherings, but having no explanation and no other frame of reference, I just thought that was how it was.  Do I let my kids live in ignorant ‘bliss’?  Do I give my oldest an age-appropriate mete-ing out of Momma’s struggles so she doesn’t think she’s responsible for Momma’s wrath?  Or will I be giving them the framework for their own self-fulfilling depressive prophecy?

All important questions.  All of whose answers will remain unspecified for now, just like my diagnosis.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this.

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3 Comments

  1. Oh, been there my friend. I felt so bad for my mixed moods that I told my daughter…(she’s also 8), in the simplest way I could. “Mommy gets sad sometimes, and sometimes I’m quite irritable. When you see me like that, just know that it’s not your fault at all. I love you and I just need some “time out”. Now she knows that I need some alone time every now and then.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 7, 2013

      Can you come give the same talk to my daughter!? Sounds like you’ve hit upon the perfect age-appropriate explanation.

      So nice to ‘see’ you again. Hope life is going well.

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