Saturday, July 5, 2014

It Runs In The Family

It is estimated that 5.7 million adults or 5% of the population, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder according to the Statistic Brain website. I believe that there is a larger number of people with the disorder that are undiagnosed and are not represented in the statistics. How many others in the world are like me?
Sometimes I think that I must live in a small bubble where there is a large concentration of people who have bipolar disorder. Countless people have shared their experiences with me.Last summer, I did a presentation for my public speaking class. I asked if anyone in the class had bipolar disorder or knew someone else that did. To my surprise, several hands went up. Since then, many people have confessed to me that they, family members, or friends have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. There also have been many times when I define the disorder and share my experiences that other people think they see those symptoms in themselves or others they know. I advise them seek an official diagnosis from a mental health professional.
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) reveals that more than two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder have at least one close relative who possesses the condition or has unipolar depression. This suggests that bipolar disorder is hereditary. It also expresses that up to one-third of the 3.4 million children and adolescents in the United States with depression may actually be experiencing the early stages of bipolar disorder. 
One of my children has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Another one has issues with depression. Strange as it may seem, I find knowing about my condition is a blessing. It allows me to have valuable insight. I have the ability to observe my children for early warning signs. Bipolar disorder is a progressive illness and early intervention is important. I can empathize with what they are going through and help them understand the importance of treatment.

My child with bipolar disorder started therapy and medication. During treatment, he came out of one of the appointments early. He felt that he was feeling better and decided to stop taking medication and going to therapy. I was angry. I said that it was a big mistake. I warned him that the reason why he felt better was because the medication was working. While the drugs worked its way out of his system the moodiness returned. Once again he was aggressive, agitated, and irritable. After over a month, he admitted that he should have stayed on his medication and wanted to continue taking them again.

All my kids are just like me. Many times I wonder about the nature vs. nurture debate. Are they like me because I have modeled the behavior or have I passed down the illness to them? I know that I inherited my condition from someone in my family but I do not have anyone in my family history that has been formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. My husband and I have our suspicions, but nothing that can be proven. We know for a fact that there is a history of mental illness on the maternal side of my husband's family. This increases the chances that our children will be affected with a mood disorder.

I will always question many things. Where did I inherit my condition come from? Which of my children will be affected? What effect will this have on our grandchildren and beyond? My husband and I will continue to have our discussions. I may never get the answers that I am looking for, but in the meantime, I will keep searching.

Works Cited
“Bipolar Disorder Statistics.” Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2014.

“Bipolar Disorder Statistics.” Statistic Brain. Jul. 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2014.
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