“Your child could be bipolar.”

I actually haven’t heard this phrase from anyone but myself, you see, my bipolar has been controlled for years, so I have a mask of normalcy over me. I’m a stable home for a child so no one worries about it, but this is something a lot of bipolar women deal with, even if they are projecting it on themselves.

Bipolar is a genetic disease. It’s not given that your child will be bipolar if you are, but the chances are higher. I could have a bipolar child, it’s very possible, it’s even kinda likely.

So why does reproducing not bother me? Why do I not see it as a risk, or as I’m sure some anonymous poster would say “irresponsible”?

The biggest reason is because I’m bipolar and I’ve lived a wonderful life. My life has been worth living. The swings have not taken away from my value. My life has not been so horrible that I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

That’s the basic and end all argument against eugenics, but I won’t go into ranting about that because I could go on for hours.

Would a child have it easier if it did not have the risk of bipolar hanging over them? Maybe, but maybe not. You hear the argument to adopt a lot in situations like these, but you have to realize, there could be a disorder and illness in any child. People have things in their genetics that are hidden and undiagnosed, some disorders and illnesses aren’t based on genetics at all and can pop up in anyone, and they do, regularly.

And I know how to deal with bipolar. I’ve lived it. I know which medications my family can take for this disorder and I know how to talk about it and find proper treatment for it. I’ve learned coping mechanisms outside of medication that I can pass down. I will raise this child to know what to look for in their emotions to help alert them of a mood swing so they can get help before they have to face the aftermath or fallout.

Who is better to raise a child with this disorder than someone who has it? Even more, someone who has the disorder and has been able to find stability and normality?

I know how to handle my family’s genetic traits, from bipolar, to bad teeth. I’m prepared for it should it pop up. But again, there is no guarantee it will. We have it in our family tree and there are a lot of us that aren’t bipolar. It’s a roll of a dice whether any of this matters.

But it is a question a lot of women wrestle with. It is a topic you’ll find in the deep web comments. And as a pregnant bipolar woman I found a need to discuss it with you incase it is a topic that’s ever crossed your mind.

On being a support person:

Being someone’s support person is a hard job, but as a human being who needs support, we also need to be able to give it back.

Mental illness and life’s hard moments both are known for knocking us down, and when we get knocked down we need someone more than ever. But honestly, just being alive requires having support, having someone to cheerlead you on. We need that positive push to get us through, we need someone to cheer us on when we win, and comfort us when we lose.

When you have a mental illness, or have gone through a really rough patch, it’s easy to take more support than you give, that’s okay, sometimes we need that, but I really want to talk about giving support back and creating those kinds of relationships.

Going out of your way to support someone is hardly ever going to backfire, especially because to start out, those relationships don’t take a lot out of you. They start small with words of encouragement and some extra time spent caring, then it turns into some of those bigger support tasks (whether it be waiting in the ER with someone or watching their children when they need help). Support is about being there. It’s about being a kind voice of reason and being excited for people. It’s taking an everyday good relationship and pouring a little more effort into it than you feel like is a hundred percent necessary.

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Pregnancy mood swings remind me of my bipolar mood swings. So does overcoming them.

Pregnancy reminds me of my bipolar disorder. That’s a weird statement to make, but it’s true. Your hormones are all over the place, and not unlike the chemical reactions in your brain that make you cycle from manic to depressive. It finds you in the exact same strange space were you know your emotions aren’t 100% correct or rational but you know you are feeling them fully anyway.

A lot of the mood swings make me ponder the lessons I’ve been trying to teach myself for years. Is this a rational feeling? How can I try to turn it into one without devaluing the fact that it is real?

Just because you know an emotion isn’t right doesn’t make it go away. Knowing your manic doesn’t let you switch off your manic traits like a light switch, but it is a start, and lets be real, you have to start somewhere. It lets you start trying to fight for control.

I’ve found most of my control in this disease through medication, but even those of us who have had a lot of luck with our bipolar medications can tell you that we still swing some, and I still have to take on those swings one on one. Rational brain verses the chemical brain.

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My limit: People with access to bipolar treatment who choose not to treat it.

I’m bipolar, I write about it a lot. I cover a lot of mental health topics on this blog. I’m passionate about it. But even people who are super understanding and have been through a lot have their limits, and I want to talk about that. I want to talk about something that deeply annoys me in bipolar communities, and that’s people who have access to treatment and refuse it because they like the high of mania despite the fact that they are putting their loved ones through daily hell.

Untreated bipolar happens to everyone with the disorder. We all start untreated. Sometimes people can’t afford it. Sometimes we have to go off our medications for health reasons. Sometimes we haven’t found the right treatment and we’re in limbo as we try to get it right. It’s hard and I will support people through those rocky years without any hesitation. It’s when people have no excuse for being untreated. It’s when they give up because it’s difficult to find the right meds and therapy. It’s when they don’t do anything to try and prevent their toxic actions that hurt people. It’s when they roll over in defeat without caring the consequences.

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Striking the balance between overloading people and suffering in silence:

It is very hard to tell people about the hardships you are going through without being an overall mood crusher. It’s why a lot of people suffer in silence- without support. They are afraid of being turned away. They are afraid of the texts coming in less and less, especially those who suffer from chronic depression. At some point people want and expect a different answer when they ask you how you are doing and start pulling back when they don’t because they can’t handle it.

It is easy to blame this all on bad friends, they don’t love us unconditionally! They should, at least we feel so, but we also have to know that talking about our depression all the time can drag other peoples mood down too making it harder for them to support us and also harder for them to cope.

Hoping to find a balance? It’s possible though, like most things with mental health it is also very difficult.

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Peace in the unsettled:

Well, we’re a month in and I don’t think 2021 is going to be less weird than 2020.

It might be a “different brand” of weird, but I still think it’s going to be weird, I still think the news is going to be stressful, I think we’re still going to get current events that make us collectively go “wtf”. I mean, did you see the Gamestop verses Wall street news of last week? Oh, we aren’t done. I don’t think it’s going to be a forever thing, but times of unrest don’t magically go away, government doesn’t magically change, pandemics take a long time to wrap up. We are still in the trenches- and that is surprisingly starting to stress me out less.

Maybe I’m adapting to my environment. Maybe this is the new normal everyone talked about. I don’t know. I don’t love it, I’m not going to pretend I do, but my heart is starting to rejoice in the things I can control. It is slowly but surely finding it’s new true north and helping me work through the rest. I’m finding my peace not reliant on the worlds peace.

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Childhood bipolar diagnosis: The good, bad, and ugly.

I saw a post about whether or not children get diagnosed with bipolar and it sounded like a lot of doctors have changed their diagnosing and are waiting till the children are older. I don’t think this is wrong, a lot of children can have mental health episodes without being bipolar and I do think for a while we were over diagnosing everything from bipolar to ADHD. The fact is that children are hard to read, and I totally understand if doctors are hesitating to pull the trigger on really big diagnostics like bipolar disorder

But being a child (I was six) diagnosed with bipolar disorder I think there are both benefits and draw backs from being both diagnosed at that age and actually being bipolar that young.

The Positives:

  • I was able to learn the big lessons early: Being diagnosed early meant that I got to learn the hard mental health lessons young and didn’t have to struggle with them as an adult. I learned that going off your medications was a terrible idea and that my episodes of mania and depression weren’t cured they were medicated. A lot of young adults who are freshly diagnosed try to go off their medication because they feel better and they think that maybe everyone got it wrong. These unmedicated periods make the suicide rates so much higher for bipolar patients and can cause other major problems. It was easier as a nine year old to go off of them while being super supervised by my parents to make sure nothing bad happened.
  • I was able to learn coping skills while learning other daily skills: It’s easier to make pathways while your brain is growing! I was able to learn a lot of skills while I was still picking up life habits, that means they are seriously ingrained in me. This is great!
  • I’ve learned which meds worked young: I’ve had my trial and error phase with most medications. And while it’s possible for me to need a new medication at some point in my life, we still have a solid foundation to work with based on which classes of medication have worked for me in my (long) past! The trial and error phase is terrible, I think anyone can tell you that, so having most of mine behind me as a young adult is wonderful.
  • I spent a lot more time analyzing my emotions: I do better than a lot of freshly diagnosed adults at identifying my swings. It’s because I’ve had parents point out my habits over the years so I have a base understanding of them. This makes it easier as an adult because I don’t spiral as much because I have learned how to catch them before they get to bad (normally- I’m still human).

The Negatives:

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The biggest lesson of this hard year:

Out of everyone I know only two people have had a good 2020, and honestly good for them, someone should have enjoyed it. The pandemic is the heart of the bad year, but lets be honest, everyone has a different list of hardships from this year. Whether it be isolation, job loss, sickness, or other terrible things, its been a year- and not one that you’re going to commemorate with a 2020 Christmas tree ornament.

And while I spent the spring and summer struggling with our series of unfortunate events, I’ve spent this fall and winter on something else, all the blessings I have despite all the bad.

It’s easy to get carried away with the mess when one thing goes wrong after another. It’s easy to let the darkness consume you, and many bad years, I’ve let it. I’ve let the darkness win. I’ve let myself sink into depression- whether warrantied or not. And honestly no one would blame you if 2020 has left you that way. We’re in a pandemic with COVID but also with depression. We have sky high suicide rates right now. It’s been a very easy year to get lost in the darkness. If you have, you aren’t alone.

But, the message that I have is that there are still things going on to be happy about. There are still things to find joy in. The reason you can see all the shadows is because their is some form of light that is casting them.

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