To Baby Or Not To Baby
Written by: Ros
I’m a 25 year old auditor that always knew she wanted to be a writer. I remember writing poetry and short stories as a child to keep myself entertained. The idea that the thoughts and images in my mind could become a reality on paper always fascinated me.
As I grew older, writing became an escape: an escape from all the painful emotions that I did not know how to deal with. Writing for a platform like the Depression Army is very important to me. It allows me to talk to numerous individuals like me who have tons of emotions to work through, but often don’t know how to.
When I was younger, I remember telling friends that I never wanted a child because I didn’t want my ugliness to see another generation. Perhaps this was too much for a tween to say, but even early on I knew there was something wrong with me. I suffered from poor self-esteem and spent most of my time in a depressive, moody state. People would always comment how my sister was the nice one and I was the angry one. This hurt because it was true. There was a constant anger brewing inside of me, an anger I couldn’t explain but that had lived with me for so long that I thought it was my nature instead of a symptom of a possible disorder.
Before being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, I believed that I was a negative personality type. In my mind, I was born angry and distant, and that made me hate myself. The way in which I viewed myself as a selfish and destructive individual made me distance myself from the idea of having children.
Compared to the rest of the world, I felt small and inadequate. I did not want my child to endure the same type of emotions brought on by always doubting oneself. I also distanced myself from the idea of having children because bad people don’t have children, right? People like me who are said to be angry, selfish, and moody shouldn’t bring more of that negative energy into the world.
I carried that belief until my nephew was born. When I first held him in my arms, something inside of me shifted. The idea that I was selfish vanished because all I could think about was providing the best possible life for him. He acted as a mirror to my soul, showing me the kindness and love that I never thought I was capable of.
"He acted as a mirror to my soul, showing me the kindness and love that I never thought I was capable of. He became the catalyst to the positive manner in which I began to view myself."
He became the catalyst to the positive manner in which I began to view myself. I remember crying because I wanted the best for him. I wanted to protect him from every hurt and disappointment in the world. I began feeling the need to shelter him and provide him with the best. What I didn’t know in that moment is that I was feeling love for an infant that wanted nothing from me besides his bottle and an occasional diaper change.
At the age of 21, I was diagnosed with severe depression and I was immediately put on medication. In the beginning I found it hard to share my diagnosis because I was ashamed. Although the medication calmed me down, it did not help with my mood swings. It took another two years and a number of psychologists to come to the diagnosis of bipolar II disorder.
I was fortunate enough to have a psychologist that took the time to explain how many behavioral patterns I had that could be attributed to being bipolar. I soon came to the realization that I was not an angry individual, but that the agitation and anxiety stemmed from the mental illness I never knew I had.
However, the diagnosis of being bipolar made me rethink my decision to have children. The risk that I could pass on the illness to my children scared me. I didn’t want anyone else to have to learn how to live through the ups and downs I had to live through, let alone a child. I live in a society where mental illness is misunderstood, where those who suffer from it are shunned and discriminated against. Even though I actively attempt to break down the stigma, I don’t know how much I could protect my child from these same stigmas.
"I live in a society where mental illness is misunderstood, where those who suffer from it are shunned and discriminated against. Even though I actively attempt to break down the stigma, I don’t know how much I could protect my child from these same stigmas."
Making a genetic gamble is not the only thing that I have to take into consideration if I want children. The medication I’m on means that getting pregnant is not a simple decision- a pregnancy while on medication may result in my child being born with various disabilities. If I wish to make sure that my child is healthy, I would have to get off medication for a while, and this frightens me. I remember the person I was off medication. I remember the uncertainty and insecurities I battled every day to remain alive. Medication has fortified my armor in my fight against bipolar disorder. From it, I have gained strength to fight a monster that I thought would have ownership of my life forever. Leaving that security of taking medication, even for a few months, scares me.
I have fears some call irrational. However I don’t know if I can survive another battle against bipolar alone. I want to be a mother, and I will be a mother. I am currently torn between the decision to either have a surrogate or to adopt a baby. Or maybe I can simply do both.