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Why Mental Illness Makes Me Not Want to Have Kids


I do not want children — not right now at least.

I’m 22, I’m trying to build a writing and editing career, I want to travel and find love, and so much more. But I just do not want kids now.

Warning – personal opinion feminist tangent: No matter her rationale, a woman not wanting children should be entirely her choice and no one should ever question her reasons. As for mine: I’m not a natural nurturer, I don’t particularly like most children, the world is a cruel place to bring a child into, I like my sleep, I want to be location independent. I do not care for others who tell me that I’ll “change my mind.” If an 18-year-old can make major, permanent life decisions like having a baby, getting married or joining the army, then I can make a permanent life decision such as choosing not to spawn. I completely respect those who become parents, but it’s just not for me.

But I digress. Though my reasons are varied and multiple, I’ve come to realize that, above all else, what most inhibits me from planning children is my multiple mental illness diagnoses. I believe children and forming a family are a neurotypical privilege that, though not impossible, can be made all the more difficult by having mental health issues.

I could pass on my mental illnesses to them.

I will never have a biological child. I could not, in good consciousness, ever pass on the mental health hell that is my genetic makeup. Knowing that I could be condemning a child to a life where he or she would have to fight every day like I do, sometimes just to stay alive, is something that I could not bear. I know I am strong and a survivor, but there are other ways to become a badass like me. I would not wish neurodivergence on anyone.

My child would have a mentally ill parent.

Even if my child somehow won the genetic lottery and did not end up with any of my mental illnesses, they would have to grow up with a mentally ill parent. I know if I had a child, I would try to always to be the best mother I could possibly be. However, no matter how much help I get or how stable I am, there will always be days where my moods fluctuate, days where I cannot get out of bed, days where I unravel.

I applaud the mothers with mental illnesses who get up every day and raise their children, but I know it’s not an environment I would be prepared to raise a child in. I have a hard enough time taking care of myself and I would not have the space or the energy left over to take care of another human being.

My brain is too unpredictable for a child.

I am too unstable for a child.

I have borderline personality disorder. My identity changes all the time, along with my emotions and moods. I can’t stay in the same place for too long or I get cabin fever. I am currently working on a writing career because I believe location independence would satiate my desire for consistent change. This environment and personal instability would not suit a child.

I have chronic exhaustion.

Many mental illnesses come with the side effect/symptom of chronic exhaustion. I am always tired and I need constant rest. From what I hear about parenthood, there are many sleepless nights and constant early mornings. Adding a baby to preexisting chronic exhaustion probably wouldn’t end well.

At the very least, with all my quirks and stories to tell, I will be a fantastic aunt.

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Thinkstock photo via KatarzynaBialaziewicz