Bipolar Disorder and Motherhood: Should I Have a Child?
There is one thing I have always been sure of, which is that one day I want to have a child and enter on a journey into motherhood. However, when you live with bipolar disorder, there is fear of not only passing the bipolar disorder gene onto your offspring but managing bipolar disorder as a mother. It is one thing to live with a mental illness and take care of yourself; it is another when you are responsible for the lives of others. So the question is always raised: "Should I have a child as someone with bipolar disorder?"
Bipolar and Motherhood: The Concerns About Having a Child
Parenthood is a challenge regardless of mental illness. However, living with a mood disorder and a severely stigmatized condition, makes the problem of motherhood all the more challenging. As someone with bipolar disorder, the concerns about becoming a mother includes:
- the possibility that your child may inherit bipolar disorder
- managing your own mental health
- providing a stable environment for both you and your children
- the effects of bipolar medication while pregnant
and the list goes on.
Although I am aware of these concerns, I have never questioned becoming a mother in the future. Children have always been a part of my life. I am the aunt of eight and was a nanny for seven years. However, when I came forward with my diagnosis of bipolar 2 disorder, I began to see the controversy behind motherhood when you live with a mental illness.
Living in an environment that continually emphasizes what I am incapable of is frustrating and exhausting; especially in regards to becoming a parent which is such a unique part of our journey in life. However, I am not naive to the problems that may come with motherhood. My grandmother lived with bipolar disorder and did not receive treatment. She was a vibrant woman but as the years rolled by she was in and out of her children's lives. At the end of her life, she was alone and labeled as an inadequate mother. Although she was untreated, I was nervous that eventually I would end up in the same boat at some point. The stories of women with bipolar who ended up being terrible mothers rang louder than the positive stories. I had to trust myself and focus on the stories of promise and hope when making such an important decision.
Should I Have a Child as Someone with Bipolar Disorder?
Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion, and I admire women with bipolar disorder who choose not to have a child. If someone feels as though it is for the benefit of themselves and a child, then it is a selfless decision. In my personal life, learning about my diagnosis of bipolar 2 disorder as both a patient and advocate has confirmed my decision to have a child in the future.
There are many stories about mothers being incapable of raising children due to a bipolar diagnosis, but there are many stories of great mothers who live with bipolar disorder as well. I will not sacrifice my dream of becoming a mother in the future just because I wear a stigmatized label that says otherwise. It has been inspiring to see other female advocates share their expertise both as mothers and individuals living with bipolar disorder. I will do my best to raise my children with an open mind, a kind heart and give them the opportunities they deserve. I will not be a perfect mother, and I cannot provide my children with a cookie cutter life, but that does not mean that I am an inadequate mother. They will face challenges, and so will I, but I can give them a gift as well as the power to overcome challenges in the future.
If I allow society to dictate all of my decisions, then it will be impossible for me to live the life I deserve. We all have our internal battles, and we can teach our children how to overcome these obstacles. I have the right to become a mother regardless of my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and I will move forward with it in the future excited and enthusiastic about the gift of a child.
Blum, H. (2018, July 16). Bipolar Disorder and Motherhood: Should I Have a Child?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/living-with-bipolar-blog/2018/7/bipolar-disorder-and-motherhood-should-i-have-a-child