Bipolar is an insidious disease. The pain, the fear, the anxiety, the darkness, the confusion, the recklessness, the horror. In those early uncontrollable stages it is a living nightmare. Managing it and living with it every day is no easy task either. You second guess yourself, you feel you should be trying harder, you wonder when the medication will stop working. It is a life-long sentence.
When I was growing up, I wanted the fairytale: the husband, the 2.4 kids, the house, the dog, the white picket fence. I wanted to be a stay at home Mummy and raise beautiful, polite children. It was what everyone wanted and I saw no reason to want anything different. I got the husband, I got the dogs, I got the house. But I never factored in what bipolar would do to that dream.
When it all came crashing down in 2007, I became like a child again. I needed people to do things for me. I couldn’t be responsible for myself. I needed my parents to take care of me at 30 years old. It was a sobering experience.
Two years ago I made a decision that was painful but in my heart I knew it was the right thing for me. I decided I can not have children. Bipolar can be hereditary and I would never forgive myself if I passed the gene onto my child, condemning them to a life of bipolar. The guilt would be insurmountable knowing I could have made a choice to not pass it on and chose otherwise.
Lack of sleep is my worst enemy. Having a newborn baby is all about lack of sleep. Hormones take over when you are pregnant and after the birth. My carefully balanced medication would be thrown out of whack completely. My combination of medication hasn’t been tested to see if it has effects in pregnancy and on children. Coming off medication is not an option for me. The pressure on my partner, parents, brother and my friends would be huge. The risks of post-natal depression are high. And yes, my greatest fear was that I would hurt myself again, or even my child.
The few people I told of my decision gave me such mixed reactions. My parents were incredibly supportive, understood why I’d made the decision and my Mum was upset that I’d had to make that decision on my own. Friends older than me understood my reasons and said they were proud of me for having made the decision selflessly. Friends around my age all said to me that I’d change my mind when I met someone again and I’d want to have a family with them.
When I started dating again last year, I was very upfront with everyone I dated that I couldn’t have children. I didn’t date anyone that did want to have children. I was very clear in my decision. Even holding my godson and Sis’ other kids didn’t sway my decision. When Chaos and I started dating I told him it was a deal breaker but he said he hadn’t really ever seen himself being a father. I was finally with the right person and in my heart I knew I wasn’t going to change my mind.
Today, I am in hospital and I am having my tubes tied. I’m electing to be sterilised.
It was a decision I’d discussed with my psychiatrist, my psychologist, my GP and my specialist. It’s been a decision that I’ve held close to my heart for two years and I’ve not wavered in that time. I know many people live with bipolar and have children. I know there are many support systems out there. For me, this is what I’ve decided is the right thing for me.