How My Bipolar Disorder Affected Becoming a Mother

Bipolar disorder is hard enough to deal with as an individual, but being part of a duo that includes a baby — even one not yet emerged from the womb — is so much worse. Pregnancy usually comes with swelling, nausea, cravings, etc. But one of my symptoms came not from pregnancy itself, but its combination with my bipolar disorder: I started to forget who I was sometimes. That’s a symptom we’re still trying to manage even nine months postpartum. After birth, a lot of moms go through postpartum depression, but being bipolar, mine turned into postpartum psychosis (which I’ve written about here).

I heard a voice — a man — telling me to harm myself or my baby or he would do it himself. I stayed up all night just watching her bed, making sure he never came. I only ever saw him once: he wore a black suit with a blurred face. But I heard his voice constantly. Nine months into my daughter’s life, the psychosis is under control and my medications are working again. As my husband and I tried to get pregnant, I had to switch my medications so that my baby would be safe. That regimen lasted over a year before I was about to give up on ever having kids and go back to my usual pills. The morning of my appointment to talk to my doctor about it, there was a plus sign on the stick.

So I had been taking my futile cocktail of pills for 22 months total and experienced more than my fair share of depressive and hypomanic symptoms during that time. I had panic attacks regularly and got more worked up as I realized the panic was not good for my baby.

Immediately following my daughter’s birth, my new doctor in California refused to give me my original medications. He thought we should wait and see if the current ones worked well for me once the hormones wore off (even though they never really helped the whole year before I ever had said hormones). After finding a new new doctor, he allowed me to go back onto one of the pills I knew would work. It took the general six to eight weeks to kick in, and now I’m fairly stable in my moods. It was only after I got my meds under control that life became easier with a baby. Those few months just following her birth were a nightmare, but now the constant smiles and giggles from the happiest baby in the world turned life into more of a dream.

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

If you or a loved one is affected by postpartum depression or other postpartum disorders and need help, you can call Postpartum Support International’s hotline at 1-800-944-4773.

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