I was once asked how I could believe children were over diagnosed while having a correct childhood diagnostic. I don’t think it’s as much of an oxymoron as people think.
There are a lot of things children can be diagnosed with, but some are more common than others. Bipolar is pretty rare in a child and it’s what I got diagnosed with. I had clear symptoms, and here’s the kicker they weren’t just symptoms inconvenient to our societies adults. I say that because when faced with heavy numbered diagnoses you see that a lot of it is triggered by inconvenient. It’s why so many young boys are labeled with ADHD, then a shocking number of them stop needing treatment as they get older. Is it because they outgrew it or is it because little boys have problems sitting through hours of school with ever shortening physical play? We’re the ones that are shortening outside times and pushing non-active electives instead of more physical ones (like shop which is hardly found anymore).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
“An astonishing dispatch from inside the belly of bipolar disorder, reflecting major new insights
When Marya Hornbacher published her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, she did not yet have the piece of shattering knowledge that would finally make sense of the chaos of her life. At age twenty-four, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type I rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disorder.
In Madness, in her trademark wry and utterly self-revealing voice, Hornbacher tells her new story. Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. How Hornbacher fights her way up from a madness that all but destroys her, and what it is like to live in a difficult and sometimes beautiful life and marriage — where bipolar always beckons — is at the center of this brave and heart-stopping memoir.
Madness delivers the revelation that Hornbacher is not alone: millions of people in America today are struggling with a variety of disorders that may disguise their bipolar disease. And Hornbacher’s fiercely self-aware portrait of her own bipolar as early as age four will powerfully change, too, the current debate on whether bipolar in children actually exists.
Ten years after Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, this storm of a memoir will revolutionize our understanding of bipolar disorder.”
You probably have gathered that I really don’t care who knows I’m bipolar, seeing that I run a blog that is mostly on mental health. I’m not just open online though, I talk about it in person too. While I’m a firm believer that your mental illness isn’t the most interesting thing about you and you should never frame your identity around it, I also believe that it’s important to be able to talk about your illness.
The personal memoir of a manic depressive and an authority on the subject describes the onset of the illness during her teenage years and her determined journey through the realm of available treatments.