- Mental Health
Thank God, I Don't Have Children! Bipolar Disorder Made Me Choose Wisely.
Freedom or Babies?
THIS IS WHY A WOMAN WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER CHOOSES FOR STERILIZATION AT THE AGE OF 30.
After writing my Hub Babies or Stability? Bipolar women and Heartbreaking choices I left some of you in the dark, wondering how on earth I was able to choose for something so definite. After all, I still lived in a world being single, making my chance in finding the RIGHT GUY, practically impossible.
Most interesting men I met later....... wanted BABIES! A traditional family and a stressful life. Other men already had their traditional divorce, and loved to share their sweet children with me. Absolutely not! Deep down inside, I knew it would be stupid having children in my life, period. Lucky for me, I had a choice at least, making FREEDOM in life as one of the biggest advantages, giving me endless possibilities, to create another kind of happiness.
After all I realize, how lots of women get pregnant, never having had a mental problem at all. Then when they give birth to their child, they can get heavy depressions or psychosis, finding out later, they do have a mental illness. By giving birth to their first or second child, they simply triggered the first symptoms of it. This means there's no way back, and the possibility of having shared that time-bomb with their baby, is most certain so tough luck indeed.
All those women who are thinking of getting pregnant with Bipolar Disorder, not having any children of their own yet, could be in the middle of a very complicated thinking process. I went through it for at least two years. Let me share my thoughts and questions with you, as they were all significant to my final decision.
A strong man and a dedicated partner
- Where do I find a guy who wants to be with a Bipolar woman like me? Will he endure my mood swings anyway, before we decide having children?
- If I find him, how many years will it take, before we start to talk about babies? Will he be ready for fatherhood, knowing Bipolar Disorder has been so destructive for me?
- Can I expect him to support me, take over when necessary and send me to a mental hospital, if reasonable communication is no longer a possibility and hospitalization is absolutely important?
- If I would be a danger to my own child, will he recognize that and take action?
- Can I ask him to do most of the parenting on his own, the first four years? These are the hardest years in any new family, but in my case I need to be able to take a break if necessary.
- Will our relationship survive my mood swings, possible new hospitalizations and common daily stress?
- If we divorce, where does my child end up? With me? With him? Or worse?
The answer: I simply didn't have a dedicated partner. I was very good at choosing partners with multiple problems themselves, thanks to the lack of confidence and my very low self esteem. I had lost all that, along my Bipolar Way and getting it back, would cost me a lot of time, therapy and break-ups over the years.
Medication and stability
- Can I stay of my medication, during pregnancy and during breastfeeding, without losing my mind again?
- If I have to take my medication, can I harm the fetus because of that?
- If so, do I want to raise a child with serious health issues?
- If I can take my medication without risking the health of the fetus, will I confess to my partner that I didn't do so? A mother's instinct can make you decide differently, forgetting accidentally to take your medication.
- What will I do if I get unstable? Will l have to take more medication and harm the fetus because of the increase. Do I lose myself or do I lose my baby?
The answer: Staying of my medication, was never an option! I need my Carbamazepine and my Seroquel as much as I need a structured life, to keep real stability. The side effects of my medication to a fetus, are horrific. In other words. What's poison to my unborn child, is life saving to me!
I never considered changing my medication, even if it would help me to get 'safely' pregnant. I am happy with the ones I have, after searching for the right combination for six long years!
Breastfeeding and attachment
- Can I breastfeed my baby while taking medication?
- How do I cope with the lack of sleep in the first year?
- What if I get into a psychosis just after birth, end up in a mental hospital, and miss out on the first important months of my baby?
- What will be the impact on my child later, when the important process of attachment, will be interrupted for a long time?
- What if I get deeply depressed, not feeling any love for my baby, therefore not being able to feel attached to my newborn?
The answer: Breastfeeding with my medication is no option. I take too much and I always need ten hours of sleep. Being adopted myself, the process of attachment to my biological mother, got interrupted. It definitely made me a different person. I always felt I had to face life on my own. It made me feel lonely for a long time in life.
The risk of developing a psychosis or a depression after giving birth to my child, is much higher because of my type of Bipolar Disorder. I wasn't willing to take that risk. The prospect of any new hospitalization, as a result of a new and heavy episode, gave me the shivers too.
The mother's worries
- Will my child go through the same hell, as I went through?
- Will I be looking day by day, for any possible sign of Bipolar Disorder?
- Will I be able to relax about it, instead of being that unbearable, over concerned mother?
- Will I be up for motherhood and the lifelong responsibility?
- Can I deal with the constant dangers in a child's life in general?
- How guilty will I feel, when he gets maniacal the first time?
- Am I strong enough to cope with the possible hospitalizations of my own child?
- How will I cope with the prejudices he will face in life, being labeled forever?
- Will my child, survive the way I did after a long and difficult journey?
The final answer:
I'm a control freak and I'm Bipolar. Meaning I will not be able to relax about anything, if it concerns the mental health of my child. I will be that unbearable, over concerned mother, afraid of every step he takes, smothering him with my love and bringing him up in fear of what might happen.
Back then, I could hardly deal with my own life, let alone take care of another human being or take responsibility for another person, as long as I lived. I simply didn't want anyone to suffer from this serious illness, having to carry so much stigma and prejudice around. The need of intensive therapy to recover from all that, without the real guarantee that he would end up happy and stable like I did, made my decision easier too.
I'll just never forget the tears on my mother's face, when the door closed of that mental hospital, leaving me standing there, behind the window, crying my eyes out, thinking she left me there to rot in hell. I bounced on the windows, demanding her to come back, screaming how I hated her and scared to the bone, for it was my first hospitalization. I followed every step of my mum and dad, until they disappeared behind the trees. I was devastated ......and so were they.
The outcome of doubts, prayers and smart thinking
Most of the questions I asked myself, didn't get the answer I was looking for. Throughout the whole process of coming to that final decision, I could rely on my family and friends, to brainstorm with me and help me find my way, through the impossible maze of thoughts I had.
My psychologist and my psychiatrist, have always been very supportive, never trying to convince me, not to follow the road of motherhood. They simply informed me about the risks with my type of Bipolar Disorder, telling me honestly that we know very little about this illness anyway. It will take decades to find out more about Bipolar Disorder, let alone inform us about it, in order to make wise decisions for the future.
According to my gynecologist, I was very young to decide for sterilization, especially since I wanted the type of 'no return'. After thinking so many years, confident of my choice, I found it to be an extra burden, to rethink everything again in whatever future. I simply embraced the fact that, to me children weren't meant to be.
My own mother (who wasn't able to have children of her own and who adopted me) was extremely proud of my decision. Knowing how much she would have liked to be a grandmother herself, she understood completely, why I wasn't able to give her that beautiful gift. We often spoke about God and his part in my decision, asking her all the time, why me?
Being 40, stable, happy and strong like never before, I am sure my quality of life, has got everything to do with my decision back then. Of course I hoped for all the right answers, just to be a normal mother, with a normal life and a normal marriage, but life sometimes challenges you to choose something different. My prayers for strength did help me somehow, and why me? I guess I was up for such a task, not knowing then, how strong I would be as a person later in life.
More to Read
Cats, sun, love and freedom!
So, now I live my abnormal good and sunny life in Spain, being a woman who knows what she can handle, feeling completely in control of my own happiness.
When I moved to beautiful Valencia, I left my two cats behind in Holland, sobbing over them for three days because they were mine for thirteen long and wonderful years. So as soon as I could, I saved two stray cats from a Spanish shelter, now living the life of a prince and a princess with me. They play, sleep, fight, eat, drink, poop and pee, without me getting crazy over it. Well...I don't like them scratching the new couch, but I'm a strict Catmummy, so they won't be doing that again. (I wish!)
Every day when I come home after a long and hard day in the sun (I'm so lucky) they greet me with a flavor of new goodies in their toilet, I strike their heads and praise them for being such a good boy. They let me know how I simply need to love, caress, feed and protect them, to feel comfortable and at ease with the catlover I am.
And I will always love them! Like a real catmummy will do with much love in my heart!