Transcript for
Staying connected to your kids while experiencing mental health difficulties

Runtime 00:13:57
Released 13/2/23

Narrator (00:02): 

Welcome to the Emerging Minds Families podcast. 

Alicia Ranford (00:05): 

Hi, I’m Alicia Ranford. And you’re listening to an Emerging Minds Families podcast. In today’s podcast, our focus is on how to remain connected to your children when you are experiencing mental health difficulties yourself. Recovery from mental illness is a journey to achieving a more meaningful and fulfilling life, but that road does usually include ups, downs, and setbacks. Recovery for someone experiencing a mental illness can also be profoundly impacted by relationships. They are a real place for growth, healing, and laughter. And for many, they’re also where we have our most intense experiences of being known and loved. 


For parents experiencing mental health difficulties connection to children can be difficult to maintain at times, but it is possible and can provide both you and your children a space to thrive. Today we are talking to Jason Tyndale. He’s a father of four and knows all too well how experiencing mental illness can be a very difficult time. For him, recovery required several years of bed rest, and although this was hard, we are going to hear today that there were also wonderful moments of discovery and time to connect with his children. Welcome, Jason. Thank you so much for being here with us today. And I wondered if you could start by telling us a little bit about your story. 

Jason Tyndale (01:26): 

It was between 2009 and 2013. So I was in my early to mid-forties. I had a young family and I became extremely unwell. I got to the point where I was heavily medicated and I couldn’t get out of bed. And I was struggling with mental health problems. And had only just been diagnosed as well, so that was quite a shock to everybody in the family. I was quite unwell for a period of time and had a mental breakdown and generally spent the next five years in bed, which was quite difficult because at the time our family was very young, so we had three children under five and a couple of older ones. But yeah, it was quite difficult. 

Alicia Ranford (02:13): 

I can imagine it. It sounds like it would’ve been very tricky. And what do you think your children understood about what was happening to you during this time? 

Jason Tyndale (02:22): 

The younger children, the three-year-olds probably just were figuring out, “Well, dad’s not around much. He’s always in the bedroom.” The older ones, the five-year-old, and the old ones probably thinking, “Well, dad’s not well, he seems to be just stuck in limbo really.” So I don’t know what they thought. I mean, my oldest son understood that I was unwell because he’s 12, he’s years senior to the five-year-old, so he was probably the most aware of the situation. And I guess he was struggling because he was going through high school at the time, so it was a bit difficult for them to, I guess, say how they were feeling. They didn’t really have much opportunity to tell me at the time how they were feeling. And I did do a lot of resting. Five years is a long time to be stuck in bed, but that was reality. 

Alicia Ranford (03:19): 

And so what do you think was the hardest part for them? 

Jason Tyndale (03:23): 

I think not getting the dad time on a regular basis. So I wasn’t really there for their formative years. I suppose you would say I was there, but I wasn’t present, so I missed a lot of milestones and things, and I think that was pretty difficult for everyone. 

Alicia Ranford (03:40): 

I can imagine it would’ve been very difficult. And I know from conversations that you and I have had that you have a great relationship with your children and they are much older now. And so I’d be really interested to know what did you do to maintain that connection with them when you needed bedrest for such a long period of time. 

Jason Tyndale (04:02): 

Yeah, so we had visits, my wife would come into the room, check on me to see how I was feeling for the day. And if I was in a good space, she’d bring the kids in and they’d sit on the bed and we’d watch Dora the Explorer and all those sort of shows on TV with them. And just have little visits, we’d read books or we’d play games. Just little things like that that kept us connected and showed them that I was still capable of loving them. It’s just that I was not always able to be conscious because I was sleeping a lot, but the times that they did come in, it was fun. We made it fun so that it was a positive experience. 

Alicia Ranford (04:46): 

And did your wife do things that helped facilitate that connection? 

Jason Tyndale (04:50): 

Yeah, so she helped me coordinate the visits, so she’d know when I was well enough to cope with the children. She monitored the length of time that the kids stayed with me. So if I was particularly tired, she’d say, “Okay, kids, let dad have a sleep now and can come and see him later on.” And she just did things like that and she made sure that I was okay during that process, which was really supportive of her. And it was just nice that she checked in with me to make sure that I was okay to have the kids there. 

Alicia Ranford (05:21): 

When your children came in and spent that time with you, which I can only imagine, it was very precious, what did that mean for you and did it help you in your recovery? 

Jason Tyndale (05:31): 

Yeah, it meant a lot to me because I still felt connected to the family. It wasn’t when you are unwell sometimes you get paranoid or you get upset or depressed because you feel alone or rejected or just not part of what’s going on. So for me, when the children came in or when my wife came in to facilitate them joining in with me to watch TV or whatever, it made me feel included in the family. It gave me a feeling of connection and just showed me that people still cared and that I was okay. 

Alicia Ranford (06:09): 

And I’m imagining it’s those moments where they can talk about their day, you can hear what they’ve been doing, or perhaps your partner can let you know what’s coming up that helps to keep that connection current. 

Jason Tyndale (06:23): 

Yeah, absolutely. Especially when the kids might be going to do something with the carer that came in going out for a trip to the park or something. And so letting me know that they were going to do that so when they came back, they could tell me about what they did and just include me in the activities without me actually having to go out and do them with them. 

Alicia Ranford (06:43): 

I’m curious to know how your children reflect now that they’re older on your and their experience. 

Jason Tyndale (06:50): 

Yeah. Look, we’re pretty close family because the kids homeschool and everything, we’re in each other’s way all the time. But they have grown up understanding a lot more about mental health, about how to approach people, family members, et cetera. They really understand. They really know how to cope with the situations that they’ve been dealt with. And I think for the most part it’s made them better people because they understand, they’re not critical and they see things from a point of view, which perhaps people their own age may not have encountered. So they’re quite mature in their reflections on how people with mental health hardships can get by. 

Alicia Ranford (07:41): 

Isn’t that wonderful to hear? 

Jason Tyndale (07:42): 

Yeah, it’s fantastic actually. 

Alicia Ranford (07:44): 

And I guess they’re probably well-placed and you’re well-placed from your experiences to support them in life’s ups and downs, which most teenagers go through. 

Jason Tyndale (07:55): 

Absolutely. Everyone in the family’s gone through some period of anxiety or depression or just some general mental health concerns, and we all support each other. We all understand that we’re all different, that everyone’s different and that what may work in recovery for one person might not necessarily work for someone else. So we’ve learned how to adapt to our situation, and I think it makes for a better understanding of general mental health. 

Alicia Ranford (08:30): 

Oh, absolutely. And it sounds to me like a more resilient family. 

Jason Tyndale (08:35): 

Yes. That has been a big thing here, we’re very resilient. We make the time to listen to each other. And I think when you can support each other and support the family unit through the tough times there, it just makes the good times even better. 

Alicia Ranford (08:51): 

Looking back, was there something now that you wished you had known during this time? 

Jason Tyndale (08:58): 

Yeah, I wished that I had known that everything was going to be okay because at the time I was stressing a lot and that was feeding into my depression and my paranoia. And I believe that prolonged the illness because I was worried that this was going to be the rest of my life. And I also wish that I had known that asking for help was okay because I was scared to ask for help. I think it was some part of me was afraid that I might end up back in hospital. I just wish that I’d known that if I’d asked for help that perhaps things would’ve progressed faster as far as recovery is concerned. 

Alicia Ranford (09:42): 

And when you talk about asking for help, is that from family and friends, or from health professionals? 

Jason Tyndale (09:50): 

Both really. Family and friends, health professionals, carers, associations, things like that where we could get help for the whole family, not just for myself. It was quite a struggle in the early days because we didn’t know where we could go for help, and that was quite difficult. 

Alicia Ranford (10:07): 

And what helped you to find what resources were out there to support your family? 

Jason Tyndale (10:11): 

A lot of trial and error. I live in a regional city, regional township I should say, and services at the best of times in large city areas on the mainland for example, are difficult to find. So when you move that to a regional area, it makes it even harder. So I did find eventually going through a general practitioner, they had a poster in their surgery about a group called Aspire which help people with mental health struggles. And I joined that group and everything started to come together in my recovery with the basis for my recovery. 

Alicia Ranford (10:51): 

Jason, what role did your partner have in supporting your recovery? 

Jason Tyndale (10:56): 

If you can have a supportive partner or a family member that can help you, I think that’s really important because I had my mother-in-law here and my partner. And my mother-in-law would just come and sit next to the bed and just sit there sometimes and she wouldn’t say much, but my wife would just come and sit with me sometimes too, just sit there, not, they don’t say anything, but you’re just having that person next to you and being able to feel valued that you’re not just a lump under the blankets. 

Alicia Ranford (11:26): 

And to have that human connection, it’s we all need, isn’t it? 

Jason Tyndale (11:29): 

Absolutely, yeah. 

Alicia Ranford (11:30): 

I think it’s a remarkable story. And I wonder what advice would you have for others going through something similar. 

Jason Tyndale (11:38): 

On the days when you’re well enough make the most of them because the children remember the good days. So I remember with them celebrating birthdays and Christmas and Easter and things like that where we’d get on the bed and we’d just rip open presents and have a really good time. And the kids remember that. Children tend to focus on the good things if they can. So the more memories you can build with them in a positive space, the better. I think not being afraid to ask for help, that’s a really big takeaway. Sometimes when you’re unwell, you think the world is against you, but it’s really not. You can ask for help and don’t be proud to ask for it because at the end of the day, it’s part of your recovery and it’s really important. And the other thing is to have age-appropriate explanations and tell your family that you love them. I mean, show them that and tell them that, and just explain to your children in an age appropriate way why you’re not feeling well and what they can do to help you feel better. 

Alicia Ranford (12:40): 

Thank you, Jason, for sharing your story with us today. Your journey is one of incredible courage and determination. And I think it’s been so valuable to hear how it’s really possible to remain connected with your children even during truly difficult times. 

Jason Tyndale (12:57): 

Thank you. Yeah, it was a long process, but it was worthwhile. And now I’m on a very good positive road to recovery. 

Alicia Ranford (13:04): 

You have been listening to an Emerging Minds Families podcast. If anything spoken about today has been distressing for you or you find yourself struggling, please reach out for help. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or more resources for support can be found in our show notes. 


Visit our website at for a wide range of free information and resources to help support child and family mental health. Emerging Minds leads the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health. The Centre is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program. 

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