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Well it is Tuesday morning and I managed to get a good night’s sleep last night and am so grateful for this.  Sleeping is something which doesn’t come easy to me, and so when it happens I really am blessed.

And this of course means that I am all ‘keen-eyed and bushy-tailed’ this morning and very interested to see what today’s question in the “Questions To A Parent With Mental Illness” Challenge will be from my daughter…
DD 19

Good morning Honey,

Wow!  Interesting question and one which is in some ways a huge consideration.

I think a natural immediate reaction to a question like, “What parts of your mental health do you think I would like to change, and why?” would be to answer, “Well all of it, and because you love me.  Why wouldn’t you want all of it to change?”

But then I am suddenly drawn back to the question and the wording of the question.   And my thoughts ask, “Is this actually an applicable answer to the question asked?   Would you want all of it to change? And indeed is this really what I am being asked here?”

After all, the question posed is not, “Do you think I would like you to be totally healed of your mental illnesses?”  And perhaps to that question the answer is a foregone conclusion.   But this question is more specific isn’t it?  This question seems to acknowledge that my mental illnesses are and will be a part of my life and to enquire, “given that mental illness is part of your life, which ways do you think I would like to change how it impacts or affects you?”

And that not only takes a little more thought honey, but it also places me in a thought process that asks, “Which aspects of my mental health and the way it impacts or affects me, do I feel causes you the most concern?”  And I have to tell you honey that for a father to know that he is causing his child – even an adult child – concern is not a good thought.  But it is a question which, I think we should ask ourselves if we have both mental health issues and children or loved ones.

And I guess my first answer would have to be the obsessive thinking and over-analysing.  Because honey, I think that you know that this is probably one area in which my mental health has the most negative impact on me.  It often affects my joy, my peace and my ability to sleep.  And all of those things then of course have a knock on effect.

Another part of my mental health which I think you would probably like to change is the suicidal ideation which often forms part of my mental health.  And this of course would be perfectly natural because although I have, by the grace of God, always managed to survive such times, it does perhaps pose the biggest threat to me and thus to you kids.

And perhaps the last part that I think you would like to change is the way that sometimes I am suffering but don’t tell anyone and still don’t talk about it.  How – even though I really am trying to improve in this respect – you are left knowing that something is wrong but not actually knowing what it is.  And Honey, I really am trying to get better at this and to be open and honest and to communicate with you when I am like this.  But there is, I think, a conflict here. As your father I want to be able to cope and to not cause you any concern, and yet I do have to be aware that sometimes my not telling you – so as to not cause you concern – actually causes you concern because you know something is wrong but don’t know what it is.

So yes, honey, I think they would be my main three/four parts of my mental health which I think you would like to change.  But here is an interesting consideration honey, in respect of this question it really isn’t about what I think you would want to change, it is about what you actually do want to change.

And perhaps this question is a good place to start and to open a dialogue on this?

What do you think honey?  

Because how I see my mental health impacting you kids and how my mental health actually does impact you kids, could very well be two entirely different things.  

And perhaps also, and this really is a very real possibility, part of how my mental health impacts you kids results from my not having explained the reasons or the influences behind the way my mental health impacts me in that regard,  

And perhaps by our talking about it will not only afford you with a better understanding of how it is affecting me but will also give me a different way of seeing it?

Honey, I really hope that all makes sense and I really hope that within all of that I have been able, at least in  part, to demonstrate to you just how much I love you and how important to me both your question and the way my mental health impacts you kids are.

With all my love.