Talking to my son about depression

I’m sorry sweetheart. I don’t feel well today.

What’s wrong?

You know how I have to take medicine every day to help so I don’t get really sad all the time? Well, I ran out of pills. This is the third day without them, and it makes my brain feel very fuzzy.

Why do they do that?

Well, there are chemicals in our brain that help determine what kind of mood we’re going to be in. One of those chemicals, serotonin, is responsible for feelings of happiness. My brain doesn’t produce enough serotonin, which is why I get really, really sad sometimes. The pills that I take help increase the amount of serotonin in my brain, so I can feel happier. Since I haven’t had the pills in three days, my brain gets confused because it’s missing the amount of serotonin that it’s used to.

Can I make you feel better?

We’re going to the pharmacy today, after I pick you up from school, so I can finally get more pills. It’ll take a few days for the chemicals to even out again, but I promise that I’ll start to feel better. For now, just give me a big hug. Your hugs help me feel better too.


I hate having to be the type of mother who has to have these conversations with my six-year-old. I hate that it’s possible to run out of refills on such an important medication. I hate that my son has to see my tears.

I am glad that I can be honest with my son about what I’m going through. I’m glad that I have decided not to hide, not to lock myself in the bathroom to cry in private. I’m glad that he won’t grow up thinking he has to hide his tears.


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7 comments on “Talking to my son about depression”

  1. Cheney

    Whoa dude. I have had to have the same conversation with my daughter on occasion and I hate it, it makes me feel more guilty than anything else when it comes to parenting because it’s something I feel like I can’t control – without meds – and without the meds I’m a total mess and she picks up on that. Kids are almost too in tune with our moods, and react to them. It’s so hard to keep on the brave face all the time, so – I feel ya. This made me choke up a little.

    • Roxanne

      It’s good to know I’m not alone. I agree that kids are too in tune with our moods, but that’s why it’s important to me that I be honest with him. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  2. Kir

    Oh Rox, although I don’t talk to the boys about depression per se..(I have been suffering for about a year with a mild case of it..the blahs) I do talk about my fibromyalgia with them, and there are some days that I can’t play or jump or run etc with them, when just getting out of bed is a struggle.

    I think that you talking to him and him understanding (Like Gio and Jacob often do) is such an important part of your own “living with it” and “through it”

    thinking of you and sending lots of hugs my friend.

    • Roxanne

      Thank you, my friend. I do believe being honest with children is really important. Otherwise, how will they understand? XO

  3. Chelle B.

    I think it’s better for you and him to be perfectly honest. He will respect you later for it, believe me. 🙂

    Oh, and ((hugs)) hope things even out soon! I think we’ve all been there.

    • Roxanne

      Thank you Chelle. Any time I question my decision to be open and honest with him, I remind myself that – even if it’s much later – he will appreciate it. ((hugs))

  4. Shell

    I think your honesty is very brave and the right thing to do. To help your child understand instead of being confused about what is going on with you.

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