Yesterday I collapsed in a heap of tears of my kitchen floor. Yesterday my daughter was home, watching me as I cried. Yesterday my daughter asked, “is sad?” Yesterday, through my tears, I froze because yesterday I had to explain to my daughter mommy’s depression. Yesterday I had to try and tell a toddler what I still cannot tell adults.
How do you explain depression to a 2-year-old? Should you explain depression to a 2-year-old?
Last night I scoured the Internet for answers. Last night I scoured the Internet for age appropriate language on mental health, for an explanation I could offer. But in that moment “night” was too many hours away — the Internet was miles away — and it was just me and her. She wanted to hear me; she wanted to know what I had to say, and she wanted to know what was wrong. And it was in that moment I remembered an amazing conversation I had with several men and women on the subject of mental health:
“Mommy is sad because Mommy has a boo-boo.” I pointed to my head. “It’s not your fault. Mommy loves you. Mommy just hurts.”
I watched her little mind work. I saw her gaze shift to the side and then back to me. I watched her small pink lips purse as she struggled to find not the right words but any words. I wondered if it made sense. I wondered if I made sense.