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.
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