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Would You Have a Child If You Knew They Would Have Bipolar?

People with a first-degree relative (say, a mother or father) with bipolar I have a seven times greater chance of having bipolar disorder themselves. Offspring of a parent with bipolar disorder have a 50% chance of having another major psychiatric disorder.

And if both your parents have bipolar disorder or another major mental illness? Well, I have no idea how that works out by the numbers.

In short, if you’re bipolar and having kids, there’s a very good chance that your children will have a mental illness too.

So the question is this, if you know that your child will have a mental illness, should you be having children in the first place?

Genetic Risk of Bipolar Disorder

Now, of course, no one knows if you child will have bipolar disorder. Your child may beat the odds and not have a mental illness. It’s a roll-of-the-dice, genetically speaking. But according to the numbers they have a better than even chance of having a major mental illness, and that’s pretty remarkable.

But let’s say for a minute you did know. Let’s say that you knew your child would have bipolar disorder. Would you have children then?

If You Knew Your Child Would Have Bipolar

I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t bring another person into this world to live the life I have. I wouldn’t bring another person into this world to be stuck on medication forever. I wouldn’t bring another person into this world to likely end up in psych wards and attempting suicide. I will not bring another person into this world to likely suffer for most of his or her lifetime. I just won’t do it. It isn’t fair to the person. I won’t condemn a person to a lifetime of pain just because of my theoretical biological drive to have children.

But that’s me.

Bipolar Children

Now I’m not saying that people with a mental illness aren’t lovable (as I consider myself fairly lovable) or shouldn’t exist (as, you know, I’m here), I’m just saying, if you could prevent a person from having this illness, would you? Do you really feel you have the right to create a human that you know would suffer life-long?

The Reality of People with a Mental Illness Having Children

Like I said, in reality, it’s a roll-of-the-dice and some people choose to throw the dice and some people don’t. I’m not saying either choice is right or wrong. I do think people should consider the question carefully though, as someone is going to have to live with it for the rest of his or her life.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

54 thoughts on “Would You Have a Child If You Knew They Would Have Bipolar?”

  1. My partners daughter has bipolar and two children of which one has epilepsy. She does cause her mother heartache. Her mother is in a wheelchair. I believe that bipolar people should NEVER EVER have children as there is a 50/50 chance of them getting it. It is very selfish if they do.

  2. I have bipolar disorder type 1. I have always been different and medicated since I was 6. I was first diagnosed when I was 15, again at 16, then again at 21, and once more at 31. I lived in denial for a lot of years if you can’t tell. Now I am 31 years old and I am the SINGLE mother of 2 wonderful sons. My oldest is 13 and I have been a single mom to him from day one. Being brought up by a mom who is bipolar and raising her children on her own while her disorder had her wacked out of her mind more than half the time had to be tough. Top It off with the fact that I got pregnant when I was still in high school and it gives you a pretty good idea what life was like for my oldest son. What life IS like, really. That poor child! My symptoms first manifested into being obviously bipolar when I was 12. When my son turned 12 his symptoms manifested as well. I created a clone, he is smarter than most and has a wonderful heart and he is physically healthy as an ox but he is obviously bipolar. The silver lining??? I know bipolar. I knew the signs. I knew the disorder. Most importantly, I knew exactly what to do. I saw the signs, took the proper and effective steps, and provided him with everything he needed emotionally. I myself needed treatment and have been on meds for years. I lead by example and showed him that there was nothing wrong with getting help when you need it and it is possible to overcome the impossible. We got better together. Better than before. I was open and honest with him and I tried my best to boost his self esteem when needed and to be there for him. He learned that not everybody is the same and some people are just a little more messed up than others. The end result? Well my son is in 7th grade and he is not perfect by any means but he is perfect to me. He is compassionate, seasoned, understanding, makes straight A’s and doesn’t even have to study, he is teacher’s pet in every class, plans to be an architect, highly intelligent, and a pleasure to be around. He looks at the world with the wisdom of ages yet sees the world through the eyes of a child. What a wonderful combo! The question was, if you were going to have a child who was going to be bipolar would you still have this child. My answer is ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? YES, YES, A MILLION TIMES YES. He is a gift to this world, I am so glad I had him, I have no regrets. He has already met life and he has already felt her harsh breath yet he is mentally sound and emotionally stable. He is more than most can ever hope to someday be and he has a lot of years ahead of him still. His heart is made of solid gold and I am so very proud.

  3. Had a stable, happy marriage but chose not to have a child. My life has been very hard because of this illness. I didn’t want to pass it on. I also was told at the time I’d need to get off lithium. My best friend had bipolar, and her second child found out he had it at 19.

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