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To My Future Child, From Your Mom With Bipolar Disorder

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Having you probably would be the most exciting and joyous thing I’ve ever done in my life. But it will never be just that. Never simply exciting and joyous. It will also be the most nerve-wracking and courageous thing I will ever do in my life.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I’m scared of not being able to pick you up when you cry. I’m scared of not being able to play with you or listen to your stories because the world is going too quickly or too slowly around me. I’m scared of not being able to go to that recital, or school play, or your graduation. I’m scared of not being there for all the huge and tiny things because I’m too busy being in the world my sickness sometimes confines me in.

I know how it feels to have a parent gone or not really there, and I’m scared of being that parent. And it would hurt if it was because of something I had no control over.

Years, maybe even decades before having you, I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It wasn’t a surprise. Since childhood, I’ve been wanting to know why I have particular quirks and difficulties. I also have a history of mental illness from both sides of my family. It didn’t just come out of nowhere.

So, if you would also have it, I know it wouldn’t just come out of nowhere. I know that chances are, it came from me. I cannot control what I get from the genetic lottery.

I’m so scared of you being diagnosed with bipolar disorder because I know how hard it can get.

When you’re depressed, there will be days you cannot get out of bed because your body will be too heavy for you to even move. There will be times when tears will simply roll down your face even if you try your hardest not to let them. There will be times when you hurt the people you love because you are no longer aware of your actions.

You might isolate yourself. You might want to kill yourself. My greatest fear is that you will succeed.

In mania, you may think that you — and this world — are boundless. That there are so many possibilities and that you can achieve them all. You will forego sleep and food. You can talk really fast, run really fast and think really fast — so fast everything and everyone else are slow, so you end up leaving them behind. Even the ones you love. Even the things you love. Even the morals you held valuable.

Having bipolar disorder can be difficult, but if you have it like I do, I want you to know it would not be the end of the world and you will never have to be alone. You will never be alone even when you have the unshakeable feeling that you are. There will always be people who are willing to support you and there will always be hope even on days when you feel like there is none.

I want you to know that if you do come, I will do my best to love you, even if I’m terrified. And if you grow up to be a good person — bipolar or not — then I will be the happiest mother on Earth.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

Originally published: February 6, 2016
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