#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.

14 thoughts on “#Bipolar Disorder and #Motherhood

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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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