Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Having a Bipolar Child

I was recently reading an article from BP Hope magazine about Bipolar Parents concerned that they could have bipolar children. The article was titled "Parents and the Waiting Game"

It really kind of disturbed me to think that a mom would be
"angst-ridden that her child ... will inherit her illness." I just wonder how that would affect a child if you were always watching for the signs of bipolar. A mom in the story said "Because I was looking for something, I thought there was something." She went on to say that she took her child to a psychiatrist at 7 and now that he's 16 there is still no sign of a mood disorder.

At what point would a mom's watchful eye turn into something that would cause anxiety in the child?

Years ago I used to facilitate several DBSA support groups. It was amazing the number of women who said they would never have children because they wouldn't want to pass along the disease. I even had a woman tell me that I was selfish for ever considering having children. It always made me wonder if they really felt that the world or their parents would have been better off not having them. I found it sad to think that these woman truly must feel that you can't have a good life because you are bipolar.

For years I discussed with my therapist coming to "acceptance" with having bipolar disorder. I finally came to understand that true acceptance is when you can get to the point where you no longer wish it was different. I now realize that the sum of who you are is molded by your experiences. If I wasn't bipolar I don't think I'd be as emotionally as strong a person. I don't think I'd strive as hard to succeed at everything I do. Finding out how far your mind can go into insanity changes your outlook on life. And I don't think I would have as much compassion for other people.

I also used to struggle with having to take medicine for the rest of my life. I just wanted a cure - I finally came to realize that I just need to be thankful that modern medicine has come up with a solution that works for me. If I pop my little pills I will be healthy and happy. And what more could you ask for than that?

As my baby gets older I really hope that I don't become one of those parents who are always "waiting" for a sign that my child has a mood disorder. I take comfort in knowing that the statistical chances of my daughter becoming bipolar are actually quite small.


Unknown said...

You have such a great outlook on this issue, and I could not agree more. I am diagnosed depressed, but I take lamictal, so I know what that means. :) My brother was bipolar and lived without symptoms until 25, when his disease had severe consequences. We lost him at 27. Even having been through all that I have with both my brother and myself, I have never doubted that I wanted to have a child. My only concern was that I be stable enough to raise him/her. With lamictal and a lot of strength and support, that finally became possible. I am now 4.5 months pregnant and have stayed on my meds the whole time. I plan to stay on them for the rest of my life and I have no problem with that - I can look forward to having a life! Thank you so much for this blog. It has been a great resource for me. I'll be waiting to see how breast-feeding goes for you. I think I'm going to "go for it", too. It feels like the right choice. If you ever want to e-mail me, my address is IrisMoonbeam@gmail.com. I am happy to give back a dose of the support you have given me.

Unknown said...

Congrats on your pregnancy! I remember the 4th month was when I really started to feel pregnant.

Breastfeeding is going really well now - there were some challenges but I stuck with it! I'm really glad I decided to do it. I think it is an great gift to give to your baby. I've gotten several emails about breastfeeding -- so I'm going to post about it later this week.

I'll be emailing you privately soon ...

Shannon said...

I have also seen people with bipolar who refuse to ever have children in case those kids end up going through the hell they have. But you're right, the chances of them inheriting it are slim! I think they are stubborn!