Monday, February 9, 2009

Being Bipolar and Being a Mom

Being a new mom this last year has been challenging (and so worth it as it has been incredibly rewarding raising my daughter). I know that many women struggle with the transition to becoming a mom, but I wonder how much of my struggles have been because I have bipolar disorder. I know my recent problems with rapid cycling have obviously been a result of having bipolar disorder, but prior to that the way that crying and tantrums make me feel is that because of my personality or because I don't handle stress well and is that related to the disorder or is it just who I am?

I don't know why I've been thinking about it lately. Maybe because I currently have a heavy dose of guilt. Guilt that I'm a working mom and sometimes wonder if my nanny has too much impact on my daughter's life (even though she is only with her 20 hours a week I still feel guilty). I feel guilty sometimes when I think what if my daughter grows up and thinks she has a crazy mother. A mother who can't always keep it all together. She has a mother who currently struggles with keeping the depression and hypomania away.

I also can't help but wonder what would have happened if I hadn't had a baby. Would I be going through the struggle of keeping myself healthy? I was completely stable for almost 5 years. No major episodes in 5 years. That's a long time. And then I decided to get pregnant. And pregnancy changed everything. I switched up my medicine, I went off my medicine for the first trimester, then I went on a low dose. I stayed on a lower than normal dose for a full year because I was breastfeeding. And in the last few months I think I am paying the consequences of those medication decisions. I never in my life was a rapid cycler until about 5 months ago. And I have lived with bipolar disorder for 16 years -- more than half of my life (although only properly diagnosed for the last 6 prior to that I was treated for depression and anxiety disorders).

Anyway, the point of this rambling is to just wonder how has being bipolar affected how good a mother I am or am not?

I mostly beleive that I am a great mom. I spend a lot of time with my daughter doing things like baby sign language and playing, but I still wonder one day if my "craziness" will affect her.

Saturday, February 7, 2009 Article: Do Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder Mix?

I was interviewed for this article which was just published on It shares the experiences of several women who are/were pregnant and taking or not taking bipolar medications.

Do Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder Mix?

As recently as 10 years ago, doctors advised women with bipolar disorder not to have children. While that thinking is now dated, bipolar women often face tough decisions about how to handle their medication during pregnancy.

Most drugs prescribed for bipolar disorder carry some risk of birth defects, yet women who discontinue medication risk relapsing into a manic or depressive episode; during the postpartum phase the relapse rate is as high as 50% to 70%, by some estimates. Even more alarming, bipolar women are 100 times more likely than other women to experience postpartum psychosis, a severe mood disorder that, at its very worst, can result in infanticide.

Read the full article here