Recently I was reminded about the challenges of parenting. My awesome cousin has been struggling with bipolar disorder for several years now and recently had a manic episode. His parents, my parents, and my aunt had to drop everything and make sure he was safe and taken care of. Bipolar disorder runs in my family, mostly in the men, and it has affected my brother, two cousins, and my grandfather, along with who knows how many others in the past. I worried about the possibility that my future children could go through the same struggle, and for a while I wavered on my decision to have kids as a single mother. How could I handle it all on my own?
First I did some research, and knowing that it affected men, looked into how could I make sure I only have girls. There are ways through IVF to do gender selection. I caught myself thinking about ways to engineer the perfect healthy child, instead of ways to support any child I might have.
Who better to take care of a bipolar teenager than someone who has seen it, knows it, has lived with it? I can make sure my kids will be educated, warn them away from mind-altering drugs, teach them coping techniques for stress, and most importantly look for warning signs and get them treatment early. I’d love to have a son someday, and I’m not going to let the possibility of mental illness get in the way of my dreams of a family.