Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Mother's Guilt

Bipolar disorder is one of the most heritable mental illnesses. Some doctors in the medical and psychological community strongly discourage individuals with bipolar disorder to have children. They believe that is irresponsible for a person with the condition to consider parenthood.

This belief is also held by individuals who have the disorder as well because they do not want to knowingly pass on the genes that cause the disorder to their offspring. I have seven children and I often wonder if I would have made a similar decision had I known that I had bipolar disorder earlier in my life. 

If you have been keeping up with my blog, you would know that I have a son who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had him tested for the illness because he has the same behavior that I exhibited at his age. In his case, my instincts were right.

I just had my daughter tested for bipolar disorder. She acts exactly like I did at her age. The other day I found out the test results as to whether or not my daughter has the illness. 

She was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In multiple articles that I have read about bipolar disorder, it is suggested that ADHD is often an early symptom of the condition. In my mind, I think that it may have been too early to make an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder because she has not had enough life experience. Her behavior may not have to escalated to the point where a diagnosis can easily be made. Deep inside I think that she does have bipolar disorder. I feel that her initial diagnosis is just the beginning of the story.

Some may say that because I have bipolar disorder and I know that the condition is hereditary, I may see signs of the illness in all my children. I do not agree with that statement. Of the five of seven kids who are of "diagnosable age", I only see the symptoms in two of them; my 20 year old son and 13 year old daughter.

Going through life with a mental illness is difficult. My personal experience with bipolar disorder has been a hard journey. I would not wish my condition on anyone. 

I can watch for early warning signs of bipolar disorder in my children. I can help them learn about and understand their situation. I can guide them so that they do not have to make the same mistakes in their lives that I did.  They do not have to struggle with the tough lessons and consequences that I had to endure.

Although it is hard to live with having bipolar disorder, it took me a while to realize that my diagnosis is a blessing and not a curse. When any of my children inherit my condition, I am here for them. They do not have to figure out what they need to do by themselves. They have me to guide them. 


photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/liloueve/4485262162/">Clapagaré</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
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