Recently I was on holiday in France with my half brother, his mum and our dad. It was a good holiday and allowed me a break from everything in life but with a mental illness you can’t really have a break in your mind.
On the last day my moods were all over the place mainly because I was honestly dreading going back home. This lead to a breakdown which consisted of snapping at mydad then crying on the porch outside where we were staying. I felt so tempted to just run away, get lost and never have to return home but I had no money and who knows what sort of trouble I would get myself into.
Unfortunately for my 9 year old half brother he had witnessed it all and he was very worried about me. I told him to just leave me and that he wouldn’t understand. After a while a duck came to join me on the porch; I like animals, they’re less complicated than humans so I grabbed some bread and started feeding him/her, it seemed to calm me down.
Once my half brother (we’ll call him Dino because he likes dinosaurs) so once he saw that I had calmed down he came to sit with me on the porch, I gave him the rest of the bread to feed the duck with, he was clearly still worried so I thought I should explain as best as I could.
I said “I have an illness in my brain, it makes it difficult for me to relax and sometimes I get upset for small reasons. I have a lack of relaxing hormones such as serotonin and melatonin so I have to take medicine to help me keep calm”
He had seen me take my melatonin before and asked about it so I said it helps me sleep
“That tablet you saw me take is melatonin and it increases my melatonin levels to help me sleep better and if I don’t take them I can be very tired”
Dino asked me questions which I answered; I made it clear to him that it was not his fault that I was in a bad mood and that it wasn’t dangerous (at least not like our nan’s cancer was) as I’ve had it since I was 6 to which he said…
“Woah, so it’s like you were born with it!” he sounded amazed at that which I couldn’t help but laugh about. It wasn’t long before me and Dino were back to our usual sibling behaviour and he still treats me the same which is good.
I had wanted to explain mental illness to him before considering children as young as him are coming down with depression and anxiety these days so I want to make sure he has some sort of understanding of it.
Some people might disagree and think that he is too young but if one day he does come down with depression and/or anxiety at least he’ll know that he is not the only one and that I would understand without judgement. I left out the BPD aspect of my brain because that would be a lot harder to explain to anyone of any age.