Mom with mental illness

Eva - posted on 10/19/2013 ( 1 mom has responded )

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After 5years of marriage, my husband and I decided we are ready to have a baby. The only problem are my disorders. Approximately 2 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and panic attack disorder. This makes me a little scared. Will I be able to handle it? Mentally? Physically? What should I expect? Please help! I want to hear it first hand from mothers who have gone through it.

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CrystalMDalton - posted on 03/07/2014

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I think that being apprehensive about becoming a mom is normal, even for women who have not been diagnosed with a mental/mood disorder. I do believe that it is possible to be a good competent mother despite having a mental illness. HOWEVER, I feel that in order to do this, there needs to be a network in place that readily provides cognitive-behavioral therapy along with appropriate medications and emotional support. Before you actually get pregnant, you should be sure to be in a healthy state physically, mentally and emotionally. I would advise attending regular therapy sessions (group and individual), along with regular appointments with a psychiatrist and possibly some type of social worker. Also, EDUCATE YOURSELF FIRST thoroughly about your disorders. Ask your therapist and psychiatrist if they think you are well enough to take on the responsibilities of motherhood, and follow their advice. Being a mother is wonderful, yet extremely taxing at times. I would not advise working while you are trying to adjust to being a new mom with all of the disorders you have listed. You can expect to be tired and drained. You can expect to go a day or two without a chance to shower. You can expect the house to get messy sometimes. You can expect to have days where nothing feels right. You can expect to have days where life seems hopeless and pointless, like you're never going to have the life you want or be able to give your child the life you wanted to give them BUT, you have to be defiant enough to REFUSE to believe those negative thoughts and say to yourself (possibly out loud if necessary), "Today FEELS hopeless, but I KNOW my future IS NOT hopeless. Today, life FEELS hopeless, but I will NOT bow down to that feeling. It may seem like I'm never going to have the life I wanted for myself and my child, BUT the life I want for myself and my child is one where we are both mentally and emotionally healthy and I am taking steps to accomplish that life right now." You can expect to need to ask for help at some point. You can expect for others to not always live up to the expectations you place on them. You can also expect for yourself and your partner to fall short of the expectations you place on each other and yourselves. You can expect to make mistakes. You can expect for things to NOT go exactly as you planned, and you have to be prepared to LET THINGS GO sometimes. Most importantly, you need to be surrounded by people who are positive and supportive and who can help you when you are having a rough day. It would be a really good idea to make sure that your partner, close friends and family are educated both about your disorder, and about ways that they can help you when you feel overwhelmed. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) provides services all over the country for people with mental disabilities AND their families. I would advise paying a visit to the website www.nami.org so that you can find the closest services available to you and your family. In addition, find a network of other new mothers to meet with on a regular basis, and schedule times where you get a break for "you" time, and also a break for date nights with you and your husband. I wish you the very best of luck. Parenting with a mental disability is very hard, but not impossible.

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