When She Asked About Mental Illness

We were eating breakfast the other day when by daughter asked,

“Daddy, what is mental illness?”

“…well sweetie, like all of the other amazing questions you ask me, the answer is not easy for me to explain. Can you let me think about it for a little while? I won’t have a great answer, but I’ll try my best…”

Fast forward to a car ride later that afternoon…I’ve thought about your question from breakfast and I think I can give you an answer, but it’s not perfect and there are many people who might explain it differently so let’s just have a starting conversation (conversation from the past).

Mental illness is a broad term used to group lots and lots of people together based on some very general characteristics that others have decided are important. Kind of like, you are categorized as Latina because your family is from a country colonized by Spaniards (conversations from the past) or you’re a girl because… That’s kind of how the term mental illness is. The categories can lead to prejudice and discrimination, but they are also something you should be proud of (conversation from the past).

A person can be categorized as having a mental illness if doctors decide that their ability to think and act is not “normal” (conversations from the past). That looks very different in different people and can last for a person’s life or a short period of time (talked about how mental illnesses have affected many in our family).
Daddy, will I have a mental illness?

Well, I don’t know. Most people have some form of mental illness during their life. If you ever feel like you are thinking or acting in a way that is disabling (conversation from the past) then talk with mommy, me or another person you trust (conversation from the past)…#OurKidsAreListening #ImTrying