When I was pregnant with my son, I was under treatment for depression, but was not yet diagnosed bipolar type II. That diagnosis I received when he was two. We ended up deciding not to have more children, not because we feared passing on a genetic risk for bipolar disorder, but because one was all we could handle, especially given that our son was EXTREMELY active (later treated for hyperactivity, doing very well now as a teen).
What I did fear, though, was whether I was a good enough mother. I had internalized stigma against the diagnosis of bipolar disorder over that of depression. Internalized stigma is a horrible thing. It eats at your sense of self worth.
We can be great mothers whether or not we live with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Even if our children do inherit the “bipolar gene,” treatments are always improving. Think of the improvements over the past 50 years, then project 50 years into the future. Who would be better to obtain treatment and show compassion that a parent who has lived through the same symptoms? But, as my psychiatrist reminds me, we must be careful not to project our symptoms and our fears onto our kids. Just because we have bipolar disorder, does not mean that they will.
Let me be clear from the off…… This is not ‘sound medical advice’, this may not even be sound – or advice!
It just happens to have been on my thoughts a lot lately and I had to get it out there. So had others, because I’ve been reading what seems like a lot of posts about pregnancy and bi-polar and the risks of passing this genetic illness on to children conceived. (Either there is more of them, or for some reason I am particularly drawn to those posts these days.)
I have to say the genetics of bi-polar depression was not something that entered my head when hubby and I were contemplating having a second and third child.
My bi-polar was triggered by postpartum depression, which just didn’t go, following the birth of my first son! For months, we thought I was struggling with this ‘common ailment’ associated with pregnancy…
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