You looking at me?
I got an email from a very generous reader who, while not bipolar, has been “sterile since birth”. In my last outpatient program there were three of us with bipolar, and two of us with husbands with vasectomies and one with her tubes tied.
I was warned again and again not to get pregnant. Although I had wanted a large family, and went on and on about it, by the time he was snipped, I felt a lot of peace.
Reflecting on this, I look at the compulsory sterilization, and what it has to do with me.
Of course, all of us were involved in the situation to practice permanent birth control. One of the patients has a daughter and had a horrible experience with her second birth. I was told I’d have to go off all my meds (11/12 pills a day). The other woman had other things she wanted to do with her life – she had left her parent’s very strict faith that essentially did not believe in higher education and now she wanted to explore it. I forgot a fourth. She and her girlfriend were struggling a lot with her illnesses. While one of them did want children, the other did not want to be the one to carry the child.
I’ve never been able to take a poll from those mentally uninteresting folks that choose to sterilize, but I wonder how that decision come about. Are they warned about the difficulties and expense of childhood? What about the potential of post-partum depression? There are many challenges parenthood, especially of multiple children brings. Have you been warned against them?
Chances are you would go ahead and do it anyway. Good for you. After five years of parenthood I can tell you there is not a more terrifying path you could take no matter how hard you search. You will not have troubles other than those common to man.
But for folks with major health concerns, things are different. At almost every doctor I saw, I had to assure them, like a good patient, I was not planning on more children and we had chosen a vasectomy. I told one Nurse Practitioner and she almost clapped. (She did clasp her hands in delight.) I think I am so used to relying on medical professionals and medication that I was told what to do, and I did it.
No more children for us.
I wonder, though, if this whole situation is not a form of eugenics. Was the vas compulsory? Nah, it was my choice. But, I had to make a choice and was pressured to chose sterilization. I was warned more than once, by people I respect(ed) that to reproduce meant a 70% chance of bringing another bipolar person in to the world. If my husband also had bipolar, the chance would extend to 90%. My response to that: So what? What is so wrong with me that I wouldn’t want to have a child with the same struggles? What person is exempt from suffering? I have a close friend who lost her boyfriend of many years to suicide. Were her three years of crying less suffering than my experiences? We will both always hurt some from our broken plans and desires. And so will you.
The thing that gets me here is the amount of trust a sick person, not just mentally sick, must have in their team. I have a psychologist I consider trustworthy, and a psychiatrist, too. The Nurse Practitioner is trustworthy as well. They give me drugs, I look on WebMD, and take them anyway. I consider what my psychologist say and usually act on it. The Nurse Practitioner is trustworthy as well. I’ve searched for this team, and believe I’ve found it. Good thing I did my research then, because when I’m sick I believe they’re my only hope, an extremely dangerous position to be in while I am essentially incompasitated.
So where is the hope? The Bible says “God is the father who is full of all comfort, and he will comfort those who have troubles, so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us,” and, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I strongly believe extending His kindness in the number one reason I have been gifted with bipolar (easy to say on the up-swing I know, but important to realize as I walk through the valley of death.) This is one of the reasons I know I have this illness.
“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” I am learned to call upon Him in truth. I’m not there yet, but I am looking forward and now will be praying for that.”
One more word: I have been asked really interesting questions by some non-believers and agnostic folks. All I have to say to that is: Welcome Aboard! I am so glad you’re here. You’re always welcome, and I would love to answer any questions or help you take a closer look at whatever it is that makes you dance to the beat of a different drummer. I’m not a trained anything (although I’m very good at shaking hands and sitting) but have been through a whole heck of a lot because of my mental illness, and just the difficulties of our fallen world. Thanks to everyone for being here…