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.