2 thoughts on “Pregnancy and Severe or Persistent Mental Illness

  • December 11, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I have untreated bipolar disorder with ultradian cycling, and I have three sons and I’m in a stable, happy marriage. Two of my sons I had before my diagnosis and the third I had after. I have had little treatment thanks to the shoddy healthcare system where I live, and lack of insurance. I also work a full time job.

    For me, pregnancy actually helps me. My moods are more stable and last longer. I enjoy being a mom and I feel I’m a good mom.

    The key for me is that I am aware that I have cycling and anxiety and my moods fluctuate. I’m aware of my cognitive issues. Self-awareness and not living in denial is very important for everyone.

    There are so many factors to having a family and having a pregnancy and a baby that in the end it isn’t a solid yes or no question. I’m a much healthier person with my kids than I ever was without them. And a big part of that is because I now consider them and not just myself when making decisions.

    But everyone is different and it should be a case by case basis and not “you have mental illness so you can’t have kids.”

    Also, I think everyone forgets how important having strong support people can be. I believe some of the major tragedies we hear of in the news center around the fact that these women had no one to turn to who actually supported them. They had people in their lives who didn’t believe that mental health is a real thing, or had that “you shouldn’t have to ask for help” mentality. But again, that’s just another factor in a very complex puzzle.

    • December 11, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Hi there:
      Thank you for your comment and perspective. It’s always good to get both a research perspective and personal perspective about touchy topics like this. I am glad that you are finding life to be not so difficult with children. That’s good for the entire family.

      Might I add a controversial piece? We should consider the ages at which our children are. Most moms with untreated, severe, or persistent mental health struggles experience recurrent symptoms during very stressful times with their children such as following a series of arguments with a teenager. Many parents, usually in their 40s or 50s, claim life is so much harder with older children than it is with younger children. Younger kids just go along, for the most part. But adolescence and adulthood are different. In fact, some younger children can be a handful, especially if they suffer from behavioral or mood disorders themselves.

      You’re right, everything should be on a case-by-case basis. The pros and cons should be considered in all cases as well.

      I appreciate your perspective.
      All the best


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