Hi Amber and Heather!
Amber: I hope all goes well with your appointment. I am ALL for self-care and directing your own treatment (see the other bipolar thread that lauraess started), but self-dosing psychotropics makes me nervous. Please, do return and tell us your story!
Heather: I have a very consistent family history of bipolar, mostly type II. My grandfather (II) had eight jobs in ten years, and cheated on my grandmother - real classic stuff. My father (II) has been depressed most of his life, with just a few hypomanic episodes (like when he spent $10,000 on a computer back in 1980). My brother (I) has been hospitalized twice with psychotic mania, and spent most of his highschool and college years hiding extreme depression. My aunt (dad's sister) has never been diagnosed, but is probably cyclothymic (less severe form). And then there's me, bipolar II and although I never have been hospitalized, there were times I probably should have been.
My sister-in-law almost didn't go out with my brother, because her mother is bipolar and untreated, and she didn't want to pass it on to her children. Fortunately, she changed her mind.
I am aware of all this family history and my own diagnosis, and am currently working on preparing to have my own, biological, children. Why? Because I am who I am in part because of this disease, and I like me. It's taken me a long time and a lot of hard work to be able to say that and mean it, but it's true. I think I'm an amazing and worthwhile person and the world is better because I'm here, and that this is (in part) because of
in spite of, being bipolar.
Do I want my kids to suffer? Of course not. But, I don't think having bipolar disorder inevitably leads to increased suffering. EVERYONE in life has something to deal with (and yes, some stuff is harder to deal with than others), and this is what gives us the opportunity to grow. And I want my kids to have amazing opportunities.
So no, I'm not worried about my kids getting bipolar disorder - if they do, I'll help them deal, through my own example and with whatever concrete help I can offer. I don't think it's something to be scared of, and it's certainly
not a reason to avoid having kids. Can you imagine the world of art if all bipolar artists hadn't been born? There would still be some, of course, but so much less.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't idealize this disease as some kind of miracle; it's still a total pain in the
most of the time. But, I do believe that the meaning in the world is what we create out of it: if we just suffer with and curse the disease, then it is suffering and a curse. But if we get something good
out of it, then its essence is, at least in part, good.
Anyway, that's my rambling on bipolar disorder and family history and kids (except to say yes, there is a pretty good chance that any child with a parent with bipolar will get some form of the disease themselves - but as previously mentioned, I don't see that as, exactly, a bad thing).