#Bipolar Disorder and #Motherhood

My Son as a Baby. Now He's in High School.My Response to Natasha Tracy’s post, Bipolar Disorder and Pregnancy: Bipolar Taking Away Choice

I didn’t know I had bipolar disorder when I chose to become a mother. I was diagnosed with dysthymia [chronic depression]; although, I knew I likely had, at the very least, cyclothymia [mild form of bipolar disorder]. Once I got the diagnosis of bipolar type II [characterized by hypomania, rather than mania], my son was 27 months old and still nursing (he loved it and I was a pushover). I had to abruptly wean him, as Depakote is not safe for nursing infants or, in his case, toddler. I proceeded to put my son in daycare and reenter the workforce due to my fear of parenting my son now that I had the diagnosis of bipolar. I believed that I was all of a sudden a dangerous mother whose son was better off in the care of someone else. I was wrong. In spite of the challenges of bipolar disorder, and those challenges are real, I’m a good mother. I work hard to be a good mother.

But, motherhood is challenging, especially if you are struggling with a serious mental illness. Not only is motherhood challenging, but the hormonal changes of pregnancy and childbirth can trigger and worsen bipolar disorder [perinatal onset – see also Birth of a New Brain]. I respect your choice. If I had known my diagnosis before I chose pregnancy, I may have made another choice. My husband and I created a wonderful, gorgeous, brilliant son who suffers from migraines, anxiety, and depression. He’s had a tough neuro-atypical life with challenging high-strung neuro-atypical parents. We do love one another, though, deeply. It’s been worth it.

17 thoughts on “#Bipolar Disorder and #Motherhood

  1. talkandcheese March 10, 2018 / 10:00 pm

    Hi Kitt, I appreciate this blog is from a couple of years ago but I’ve just come across it. I loved it, but was really sorry to learn that your son is now living with depression and anxiety.

    I have a 5 year old son who, like you I’m sure, is my world, but I worry so much that he will inherit my bipolar 2, or a mental illness of some kind.

    I guess the positive is that we will be alive to the signs, and are capable of offering him loads of support if necessary, but I hope and pray he escapes what I describe as my ‘gremlin’.

    I wish you and your wonderful family so much love, joy and happiness, and look forward to reading more of your fab blogs.

    Keep well. x

    ps – this was my take on living with bipolar and my boy. https://talkandcheese.net/2018/02/22/bipolar-and-motherhood/#more-106

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley March 15, 2018 / 1:25 am

      Just because we have bipolar, doesn’t mean that our children will. You are right that we are more compassionate to them. My son ha genetic factors on both sides of the family, with a bipolar mom, an anxious dad, and with migraines on both sides of the family tree.

      Liked by 1 person

      • talkandcheese March 16, 2018 / 1:47 am

        Yes it’s true, and hopefully my little one will enjoy good mental health. There are 4 in my family with issues so I keep a little eye on his behaviour to almost reassure myself that, for example, his tantrums or upset or excitement are just normal 5 year old behaviour and nothing more. I’m very mindful of not scrutinising too much though as I don’t want to make an issue where there isn’t one. Thanks Kitt, and keep well. X

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pieces of Bipolar March 11, 2016 / 8:57 am

    I was raised by an undiagnosed mentally ill mother. In those days, she give birth in a nursing home. I came home, premature, without her. She stayed an extra 10 days in the nurses care due to ‘the blue’s’. She was only diagnosed when I was diagnosed as a teen. When I married I toyed with the idea of children, even tried for a while. I would have loved to have had a child. But I knew the reality that would befall me with, as you mentioned, the hormonal changes, and the fear that I would damage my child, also seeing myself as a danger. That, and my husband was an alcoholic. I chose not to have children and I do regret my decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kitt O'Malley March 11, 2016 / 8:42 pm

      I am so sorry that you made a decision that you now regret. Our internalized stigma is devastating and painful.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. vanbytheriver March 8, 2016 / 3:59 pm

    I never had a diagnosis, but I knew I had suffered a serious depression in my early 20’s. When it came time to decide about pregnancy, I was in a really good place, and thought I could do it differently than my depressive mother. I believe that I did, those were some of the happiest, most grounded years of life. But my regrets came later, when my children showed signs of depression in young adulthood. I felt so much guilt for passing those genetic issues along to them. They are dealing with it all, and are beautiful, brilliant, sensitive human beings. I got over my guilt.

    Your baby boy was/is beautiful, Kitt. And I believe our love, acceptance and awareness will go a long way to healing, both for ourselves, and those we cherish. 💕

    Liked by 3 people

  4. dyane March 8, 2016 / 12:27 pm

    Thanks for the shout-out, Kitt! I saw Natasha’s post mentioned on Twitter yesterday, and I was tempted to comment, but held back since I wasn’t feeling well.

    Sick in bed today. Feeling lower than a snake’s belly. At least I hauled myself to my g.p. yesterday and I got glorious codeine cough syrup, which she said is safe to take with my MAOI med Parnate.

    Liquid Heaven!

    sending you big, germ-free hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bradley March 8, 2016 / 10:59 am

    Psych meds and pregnancy is something I never thought of. I would think that going off the meds and dealing with hormones could be dangerous for some women.

    Being bipolar and being an alcoholic, I am concerned about my 19 year old daughter at times. So far so good, however she lives in the U.K. and talks about going to the pub a lot. So far, so good, though

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kitt O'Malley March 8, 2016 / 2:57 pm

      I’m not a medical doctor, but I do know that it is possible to take certain meds during and after pregnancy to maintain stability. Some meds are safer than others.

      Liked by 1 person

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