Shared Journal Entry #2
January 1, 2018
I have wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl. When I realized what my mother meant to me and what my grandmother meant to her I wanted that feeling of unconditional love from a child. I use to play with my dolls as a kid, like most little girls, I would dress them, comb their hair and take them out in a little stroller my mom bought me. I never envisioned myself being someone’s wife but oh how I coveted the position of mom. I remember treating my little sister, who is 10 years my junior as my own daughter.
I imagined how it would be when I had a daughter of my own. I had this dream once and in it was a pretty little girl with bobbles in her hair and we were making art together, filling up balloons with paint and throwing them against a canvas. Afterwards I would give her her evening bath and we would sit on a big brown comfy chair and I would read her a bedtime story like my mom did with me. I had this reoccurring dream for years and then one day I noticed I wasn’t dreaming of my beautiful daughter anymore.
I can almost pin point when the dream stopped, it was around the age of 24 when I had my first bipolar episode. Because of the medication I was on dreaming of any kind seemed to stop after that and once the episodes kept coming— seven in total so far— my imaginary little girl seemed further and further away. I would often try to conjure her in my mind by reading little letters I had wrote to her over the years, so sure was I that my daughter would one day be real. But I couldn’t see her anymore, she was gone, my dream was gone and it has yet to come back.
After my official diagnosis of Bipolar Affective Disorder 1 in the fall of 2008 I felt defeated. I was being told by doctors that this illness was something I would have to manage for the rest of my life. There was no magic cure that would take me back to a time when I didn’t have a mental health disorder, to a time where I could dream of having my little girl. When I asked doctors if having a child with my condition was possible the answer was yes but it would be a long road medically and there would be no guarantees that things would turn out well.
The condition I have is genetic so the marker could be passed down to my child. After experiencing 10 years so far of this illness one of my greatest fears would be to pass this to my daughter. My second greatest fear is my absence in her life. When I have an episode it normally lasts six to eight weeks and I am locked away in a facility. Then there is what I call “the comeback after the come down,” usually this involved months of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from being locked away for two months. During this period, I’m no good to anyone especially myself so how would I take care of a child?
It’s true that it takes two to make a baby so I should be able to rely on the father but the harsh reality is the man I choose to be with in the long term, with or without a child, will have his hands full dealing with my illness when it surfaces. Neither conditions are ideal so I have to decide can I deal with mental health and motherhood?
For me right now the answer is no. I know myself and if I can’t give my child all of me then I am doing a disservice to a tiny person that didn’t ask to be born into a chaotic situation. To do this, to create life when I have to fight every day for my sanity would be insane to me. I know there are many people who struggle with mental health that start families and I applaud you but I also know how challenging the circumstances can be. However selfish it may seem, when it comes to having kids I have to choose me. I may never have the unconditional love of a child but I have the life I am building for myself, I have family and all those that support me in my journey. I am loved unconditionally by many and perhaps that will have to be enough.