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.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's tough work. Just cut yourself a break. Guilt comes with the territory when your a mother. You are doing great. And YES absolutely, you moodiness is the BP disorder. I'm pregnant with my 3rd child and am in a mixed state. It's horrible, but I think we just need to keep in mind that this to shall pass!

Rachael said...

Thanks for the kind words!

I agree this too shall pass. I learned that phrase from my therapist years ago ... and need to remind myself of it sometimes.

I hope that you too get out of the mixed state.

Best,
Rachael

Anonymous said...

I am grateful beyond words to have stumbled across your blog. Off meds for over a year now I'm precariously close to losing it and know I need to go back on meds but was holding off since I'm breastfeeding my 8-month old. In the past I've tried Lamictal and had a reaction, and Lithium is too toxic for nursing. I'm hoping to try Depakote and be able to continue to nurse until my baby is ready to wean herself. I'm sitting here sobbing reading your posts - so grateful to know I'm not alone. I will become a faithful reader.

Rachael said...

It is nice to know that I'm not alone. And I'm glad that my blog is helping you. feel free to email me anytime at bipolarpregnancy @ gmail.com

Best,
Rachael

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachael
Its great to see some first hand information on bipolar and pregnancy. At the moment I'm looking into having a baby. I have had bipolar for 13 yrs and things have been going pretty well for at least 7 years. However, I'm getting conflicting information from psychiatrists. One is optimistic about my chances of staying on lithium and changing the anticonvulsant I take to another safer drug before I get pregnant. A different psychiatrist just pointed out all the risks and was very wary about the whole thing. I realise there are risks but if I came off my medication totally the risks would be multiple - to my relationships etc... I'm in my mid thirties and feel I don't have lots of time to play with. What do you think?

hopefulgrl said...

Wow -reading your blog really hit home for me. I have recently been diagnosed with BP and preciously had been trated incorrectly for depression and anxiety. Our stories are so similar. However, I do not yet have children, but I recenlty chenged meds to get ready to get pregnant. However, I am not stable on the new meds yet, and everyone says pregnancy only makes BP worse. I am 33, not getting any younger, and scared out of my mind. So sad too, as I want to have kids...

hopefulgrl said...

Wow -reading your blog really hit home for me. I have recently been diagnosed with BP and preciously had been trated incorrectly for depression and anxiety. Our stories are so similar. However, I do not yet have children, but I recently changed meds to get ready to get pregnant. However, I am not stable on the new meds yet, and everyone says pregnancy only makes BP worse. I am 33, not getting any younger, and scared out of my mind. So sad too, as I want to have kids...

hopefulgrl said...

Wow -reading your blog really hit home for me. I have recently been diagnosed with BP and preciously had been treated incorrectly for depression and anxiety. Our stories are so similar. However, I do not yet have children, but I recently changed meds to get ready to get pregnant. However, I am not stable on the new meds yet, and everyone says pregnancy only makes BP worse. I am 33, not getting any younger, and scared out of my mind. So sad too, as I want to have kids...

Anonymous said...

I have been diagnosed with bipolar for the past 9 years. Im pregnant with my first child and tried it without meds. I have been put on Lithium in my 27th week. The psych doc and ob/gyn said we will be just fine, but the guilt is killing me. this is supposed to be one of the most wonderful times in my life. I feel guilty that i want to be happy, but its at the possible expense of my childs health. I feel so selfish.

Anonymous said...

I too have bipolar disorder and I am just at the beginning of my first pregnancy. I read your comments and concerns about your daughter feeling she has a "crazy mom." I think perhaps we will make better mothers because we are more aware. We are constantly self-checking and monitoring our decisions. I think that quality could actually make us better parents. I too appreciate the verse "this part too shall pass", but my favorite has to be "for I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future."

hopefulgrl said...

I get really angry at people who have negative thingsto say about BP and pregnancy. I think I, and all of us, will be great moms because of the awareness and the self-checking (however exhausting that is!). My sister is pregnany and it was so easy for her. She has none of the considerations I (we) have and I can't help but be jealous and angry. My family is not really understanding or supportive of the BP stuff - they would rather ignore it then talk about it, which is hurtful. I think what it comes down to is how YOU feel about this whole issue. I know guilt is tough, I struggle with that as well. I have decided not to go off meds, so I guess I'll see how it goes. One of my favorite quotes is: "Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster hand; they go to the ones who trust in God and always thinks 'I can!'".

buried rage said...

Hi Racheal and Anonymous and Hopeful grl. I am glad to have stumbled across and "met" you,
your writings are all so similar to mine. I am 33 and planning a pregnancy dare I say it. Having been a "diagnosed BP" so they say. I am still in complete denial about it but think I have PTSD instead. However due to one manic episode 6 yrs ago and a year long recovery+ I do have to balance my self and recognise I am clearly hypersensitive and become overly stimulated quite easily which makes it hard for me to concentrate etc. anyway Im totally not on the topic or pregnancy but just glad to have found you. plan on visiting from time to time if not often.

Anonymous said...

I have been on and off your blog for a while since last summer, but your most recent post seems just what I need at this time, as my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant with our second child now for closing in on one year.

There's a flood of feelings I have from reading this specific post, all of which help me at this time... thank you so much for your blog...

Anonymous said...

I am newly diagnosed BP (a year ago, just after my third child was born). I nursed for 13 months on a very low dose of mood stabilizer & adhd meds. When I finished nursing, I went full force and was feeling great. Then an oops, we got pregnant and I am now 8 weekd, been off all meds but my anti-depressants. Thank goodness for my very supportive hubby, or else I would be a gonner. I am very depressed now, a lot is changing. because this is our 4th and money is tight, we are moving the bigger kids to a less expensive school. Public schools are not an option in our area. I am so guilty, feeling it is my fault for this move. I am also struggling with our finances, again the result of my rapid cycling a few years ago and some poor decisions in the midst of hypomania (I was undiagnosed at the time). My hubby keeps telling me that God does not give you more than you can handle. He must think I can handle a lot.

Anonymous said...

Somebody help me...
I've been diagnosed for 15 years and been as stable as can be expected since I began Lithium and Wellbutrin. I am 45 and gave up hope of ever having a child. I began menopause, or pre menopause (?) last Summer. Long story short, I am now pregnant. Just found out. I've had 3 abortions and decided I would NEVER have another if I was EVER blessed enough to get pregnant again. I am not married, I have a young boyfriend who would make a great GREAT dad, and although I love him so dearly, I am not in love with him. I want to have this child but am so nervous horrible things will happen. I am a believer that our thoughts guide our actions- if I believe good will happen, I will create it, and vise versa. Nonetheless, being 45 and bipolar? I won't go off my meds, I can't. It would be dangerous. Any comments??

Rachael said...

Wow ... I didn't know I'd get so many responses. Thank you all for writing. I think it is so important that we have discussions and that we can "virtually" support each other.

Be well,
Rachael

Anonymous said...

I feel like there is a reason I stumbled across this page tonight. I was diagnosed with BP four years ago and my husband and I are planning a pregnancy around it. I currently take Lithium, Lamictal and Risperdal and my psychpharmacologist is slowly moving doses downwards so we can have a no-pill pregnancy. I am so scared. There I've said it, and you are the only ones who will hear it. I am scared to go through all of this but so hopeful that it will be the right decision. I feel so blessed to be able to hear about everyone elses stories and feel a connection that no one can ever know besides us. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My mother was bipolar and I never new, she was never diagnosed. She died in 2002. When I was 22.
I am now 29. I was diagnosed 6 years ago.
I had the most wonderful caring and loving mother. Given, she had her moments when I never knew what might happen next, but I turned out perfectly fine. I believe that knowing that you are BP makes all the difference. The "checking" makes all the difference. To understand that you are BP is an amazing tool that we have.
My mother never understood why she pushed people away, lost friends, or needed to buy at least seven of everything.
We have the power of knowledge. And the help from blogs such as this to be fantastic mothers!
I am currently coming down off Lamitctal and Amblify so that I can try to become pregnant.
I thank all of you for your words, for sharing. It means the world to me to know that I am not alone.

Adrienne said...

I never thought I would be able to have kids because of my BP disorder - but my husband is really pushing the issue and now I am starting to think that maybe I can do it - maybe I am just so scared it is easier to think that it is not possible at all. We both have stable jobs but live 1000 miles away from family so a move back would have to be a part of the plan. I KNOW I will be needing all the help and participation I can get from family and friends in order to do this. Finding a doctor right now is the challenge - it is so difficult!!! I want to go off all meds during the pregnancy and switch back immediately after the birth. I am not sure how long I will be able to hold my job when I go off meds or how I will be.... It is a scary situation. I empathize with all you ladies.

Anonymous said...

You are a good Mom and don't you forget it. I'm a bipolar mother of a 3 year old. Every day I pray that my son grows up to be a healthy happy kid without any memories of his weird mom and the crazy things she would do. Being bipolar has taught me not to fully trust myself or my judgment. I'm forever worring that I'm going to screw up as a Mom and my son will have to pay for it. Finally I said screw this, I'm a great Mom. I need to have faith in myself and cast off that shadow of a doubt that having bipolar has given me.

kelly the nut said...

I am so grateful to see that I'm not alone. I've only just been put on Lamictal after a year+ of Prozac. Apparantly my first pregancy triggered the full blown mess seven years ago, but I chalked the mania up to my dramatic nature and the depression to personal failings. I still struggle with guilt when i "allow" a depressive lapse. Ladies, am I right when I say that the paperwork that builds up when you're depressed makes coming back to normal not even worth the bother? :)i haven't held a steady job in over a year and a half, and the only job I was able to hold for a prolonged period was an acting gig in a science museum. (Actors really get the ups and downs.)Guilty - I have created financial strain. Guilty - I haven't been able to give my Asperger syndrome daughter the kind of attention she needs. Guilty - Laundry piles up, dishes sit in the sink, toys don't get picked up... all because I either can't move or have a much cooler project to work on! Yet... loved and forgiven because I am God's creation. We're all flawed.

FirstandGoal said...

I feel the same way. I am very hard on myself in every aspect but especially as a mother. Are my children going to think that I am crazy are they going to feel neglected? I am a stay at home mom with a husband who works way too much so I spend all of my days with my children. I can't help but think that this is going to affect them one day. I want them to look back at their childhood with fond momories, not memories of a mother who can't keep it together. I can't remember where but I recently read an article that says that children with bipolar mothers have a much harder time bonding with people when they get older. I hope that I haven't ruined my children for life.

Rachael said...

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to reply to this topic. I think your stories are all amazing. I appreciate your kind words and support.

First & Goal -- I try not to pay attention to that kind of negative news. I would like to believe that as long as you provide a home full of love, they will grow up being safe, secure and will bond with others as they have bonded with you.

Anonymous said...

Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous sa very touching site
Touched my heart on such a subject very close to my heart.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you so much for your blog. I am 36 and we have been trying to conceive for 8 years and the plan is to start Clomid next month. I self diagnosed myself bipolar last year after having a 2 week long manic episode after some extreme family drama. I realize now that I have always been bipolar but was told I was anxious and depressed. We had always wanted to have kids without fertility drugs, not that they are bad, but I kept listening to the people who said it would happen, your just stressed, ya you could say that. To add to my stress my sis in law became pregnant last year after trying for 3 months. I haven't been the same since. I went from unstable to depressed to rapid cycling. After a HSG failed to help conception, next step is Clomid. I have weened off Celexa and Neurontin and am now weening off the remainder of the Pamelor, which is an maoi that my gi Dr gave me for acid reflux. I am making a point to excersize 5 days a week, and your right it makes a huge difference. I'm having a hard time at the moment and am questioning whether I should even go forward with a pregnancy but know my depression will never get better if I don 't. Thank you so much for your words. There is very little support or education available for people who suffer from bipolar. I know I will have struggles as a mom, but I know I already struggle everyday.

Anonymous said...

i was dignosed with bipolar 9 yrs ago im 25 and 13 weeks pregnant. i was planning to concieve nxt yr to my suprize i ffound out whilst i was 4 weeks. im concerned because i took lithium 800mg (ive been on for 5 yrs and stable)up untill four weeks stopped emiedietly due to psyciatrists orders then was prescribed 1mg of laraz 3 times a day i take them when needed at the most 1 a day bout 3 or 4 a week.i feel well and to b sure i am i have an occupational therapist to talk to. i was so happy at the start and now if im honest ita a nightmare i worry all day about my babys health i feel guilty when i take a laraz but i dont kno whats worse for the baby me haveing a panik attack or me relaxed with a laraz. there was n o sign of fluid on the babys heartin my 12 week scan which is great. fluid around the heart would b a sign of heart deffect. now im gasping for the 18 week scan to c if things are good then i have a 22 week scan if needed only then i can c myself relaxing and happy for the future. i want noething more than my baby to b ok has anyone had a simular situation.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm new to this. I been told I got bipolar no wonder I feel like I am one min at a high where no one can touch me and the next so low where I feel worthless. I do have a 1 year old son and I feel like I'm the worst mum in the world as I on new medication bt still feel I been a crap mum as took me a while to get the drs to listen to me now I can't bond with my child and put me off having anymore children as I worry my son will end up like me. My partner tries to help bt doesn't fully understand at times. But does it get easier with time. I am a working mum but no one know about my situcation just thinks I'm a party animal and a bit crazy as I'm always out there.

Anonymous said...

What i ԁo not unԁerstood is in fact how you're now
not actually much more well-preferred than you may be now.
You're so intelligent. You know therefoгe significantlу in thе case of this topic,
produced me in my view consider it from numerous various angles.
Its like men аnd women are not fascinated unless iit iis
something to dο with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs great.

At all times maіntain it uр!

Check out my page; Casino Svenska