Should people suffering from depression have children?
This is a question I have been struggling with a lot lately. Granted, I am only in my first year of college (3 weeks left!) so I am not planning on reproducing any mini-me's soon, but that doesn't mean I haven't thought about it for later down the road.
First, some background info - I am in a serious (2 year) relationship with an amazing guy whom I plan to marry. That said, he has severe clinical depression, as well as generalized anxiety disorder, and some slight social anxiety. He's is on anti-depressants, but it's not a cure-all. This past week has been especially difficult, to the point where he couldn't even drag himself out of bed to go to work, or even to eat. (See my hub on depression here --> http://bangell08.hubpages.com/hub/When-a-Loved-One-has-Depression)
As for me, I have always been on the melancholy side as well. It has never been as severe, or as consistent, as my boyfriend's - but it's still there. It's been there from my childhood (family issues), through my teen years (lost a classmate to suicide) and seems to be getting much worse now that I am in my college years.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. [Although, in today's society, not always in that order.] That's what is expected of people, and that's what I want for my life. Or do I?
I do. I want kids. I want to feel that joy of being a mother, of bringing a little person into the world, caring for them, watching them grow up, being proud of who they become .... And, watching my boyfriend interact with his nieces and nephews, I know that he will be a great father. He's great with kids, and loves babies.
But, this imaginary future scenario of my life doesn't include depression. And like it or not, [obviously, not] it is a very real part of both my and my boyfriend's lives.
So, the question appears before me: should depressed people have children?
To be honest, I don't know. I haven't figured it out for myself yet.
To tell the truth, I'm terrified.
In a perfect world, where I'm happy and my boyfriend is happy, we are happily married with happy kids. But that's not reality. The reality is, he couldn't get out of bed this week, because he was too depressed.
[Note: I am not angry at him, disappointed in him, or blaming him for this. I know he can't help how he feels. I know he doesn't want to be this way. I know what depression is like. I know he'd change it if he could.]
I don't want our kids to go through the pain, confusion, and helplessness of having to see him - or me - like that.
As I said, I'm no happy-go-lucky person myself. And I know that I would try my best for my kids, but would that be enough? I grew up in a difficult family, with parents who fought constantly and didn't seem to care about me at all. My father was violent at times. I know that the situation wouldn't be the same, but I still wouldn't want to subject my children to a "difficult childhood."
I wouldn't want to have to tell them,
"Not now, honey, Mommy's having a bad day..."
...or have to try to explain to them why Daddy is so sad all the time. I wouldn't want them to witness either of us having a panic attack, or have to drop them off at Grandma's because we just couldn't deal with life that day.
Then there's genetics. Both of my boyfriend's parents suffered from depression, as did both of his brothers (for a short time). I don't know my family history very well, but I do know that I wouldn't want to be the start of a genetic chain of depression.
Because, it is genetic. There's been research done on that and while it wouldn't be 100% that my imaginary children would have depression, it would be very likely - especially with two depressed parents, one of whom already has a family history of it.
I don't want to have to see my kids go through what I've gone through, what I see my boyfriend go through. I don't want to have to wonder, when I bring home my little boy or girl from the hospital that first day, if one day I will be bringing them home from the hospital for another reason.
It's heartbreaking to think about.
But all the same, I want kids. I want to be a mother. Is it right for me to want that, when I could potentially be putting my children at risk?
So, should depressed people have children?
Right now, I don't know. What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments below.