Yes, you CAN be a good parent and have Bipolar Disorder

I came across this article on bphope today. It discusses how a bp patient had a vasectomy because he didn’t want to have kids due to his diagnosis. I would like to give you my story. Because like they say, there are two sides to every story. 🙂
I want to say ahead of time, I fully support people’s choices for their family planning. It is a personal choice, and everyone has their own reasons for having or not having children. This is NOT me bashing people who don’t want to have children because of their diagnosis. This is about MY story of having children with this diagnosis.

I have technically 5 children. I have a daughter that had passed at birth. 4 of my children are living and for the most part pretty healthy. When I was younger, I never wanted kids. I saw the hard work that my parents went through, the troubles of making ends meet, and how you have to fully give yourself to someone. In my teen’s it wasn’t for me.

When I was 21, I became pregnant with my first daughter. At the time, I was on prozac and my partner at the time made me go off of it. Cold turkey. I realize NOW, that was a mistake, and there is a way things need to be done. But luckily at the time I didn’t have any problems. Also at the time, I was only diagnosed with Depression.

It NEVER EVER crossed my mind that this was something I could pass on to my children.

6 Years later, I became pregnant with my oldest and first son. At the time, I was dealing with my daughter’s diagnosis of ADHD, and while looking back now, I do recognize that my bipolar was creeping in.

4 years later I became pregnant with my youngest son. And it was about the time when he was 2, I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I was in my early 30’s at this point.

Still, it never occurred to me that I could pass this along to my children. It was because I was just diagnosed, and didn’t fully understand what was happening to me.

I was on all kind of meds, going to therapy, raising kids. Yes, there was days that I wanted to give up, but for the most part, I chugged along, did my duties, and was a good patient, and a good mom.

5 Years later, I became pregnant with my last child, and youngest daughter. During this pregnancy, I was sent to a geneticist, because of all the meds I was on. I’m glad my pdoc at the time set this up. Some of my medication was reduced, and if I remember correctly, I was only taken off of one med; Klonopin. I did well during the pregnancy, and I did not breastfeed my daughter, even though the hospital doctor pushed it, even when I told them the reason why I was NOT breastfeeding (remember I was on meds!).

It wasn’t until the kids were older, and I had been in the community for some years, and started to truly understand bipolar disorder that I understood that this was a hereditary disease/disorder.

Am I afraid my kids are going to get it? YES! While my oldest daughter deals with ADHD and Panic Attacks, and my youngest son also has ADHD as well as Auditory Processing Disorder, I make it a point to have an open dialogue with my kids about how they are feeling. The boys hate it (EWWW! FEEELINGS!!!), but they appease their mother. 🙂 If I notice something is off, I ask them about it. All of my kids know I have bipolar. Only the two older ones truly understand what it is. It was just recently that I explained to my youngest daughter that mommies mind is like the little girl on the movie “Inside Out”, but all the time.

I am glad I have children. They push me to be healthy. Some days I don’t want to go on, but then here they are…. beings that I made. I owe it to them to keep pushing through. They are a huge responsibility. They are a lot of work. But they also give me a lot of love, understanding, and support in ways they don’t even know. I have hit bad times, believe me. There was a year where I was in bed, over medicated. My husband stepped up to the plate and did the work of two parents essentially. For that I am forever grateful. At the same time I am remorseful for missing out on so much of my kids lives.

Bottom line and the whole point of this post, is that it IS possible to be a good parent and have bipolar disorder. It admittedly takes a lot more work, and you have to be aware of yourself as well as your child(ren). It is rewarding.

But as I said at the beginning of my lengthy post, I support anyone’s choice on having children or not. It’s not a journey for some people, and I respect that. Am I worried about my kids having bipolar? Now, yes. But I have been down the road. I am prepared. And while I would hate for any of my children to have to deal with this diagnosis, I am in a place where I can be supportive and advocate to them.


One thought on “Yes, you CAN be a good parent and have Bipolar Disorder”

  1. I love this post, which is very interesting because I am the complete opposite – I have always wanted kids, was always sure I would have kids, and now at 26 me and my partner have decided we won’t have any.

    We’ve talked a lot about this over the years, but as my illness has gotten worse and symptoms have changed, we just don’t think we could cope at all with pregnancy or raising kids for however many years. I also couldn’t cope if any of my kids had Bipolar disorder and it got to the point mine has.

    There was never really this moment of realisation where we both said “we’re not having kids” and cried and grieved…it crept upon us. Over the years it went from ‘we will have kids one day’ to ‘maybe we’ll have kids if I manage to stabilise’, and quickly became ‘we can’t have kids’…sometimes I think about it and I get sad, but I know it’s the best for everyone involved, as we really couldn’t deal with it. I think it’ll be harder when close friends start having children, but we have each other and that’s all we need 🙂

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