Friday, December 01, 2006

BiPolars and Pro-Creation
Would you want your mom to go off her meds to have you?

(A guest contribution by Magdalen, queen of the Internet & world-champion BiPolar)

if my recent discussions with people about procreating are any
indication, many people would prefer that bipolars practice voluntary
eugenics and get our tortured but brilliant minds out of the gene
pool once and for all.

there are many reasons not to be a bipolar mom: having to go off
medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding; potentially being
overwhelmed by the same hormonal surges that sweep non-bipolar women
off their rockers and into severe depression after pregnancy; knowing
that mania can be triggered by sleep deprivation, and what is an
infant if not a charming bundle of sleep dep? even as the child gets
older, will an "unstable" parent -- though, hello, some of us
bipolars are far, far more stable, functional, and compassionate than
thousands of "normal" people out there -- be able to handle the
pressure, the exhaustion, the inability to crawl away and practice
whatever coping techniques she's developed over the years, because
she no longer has any time to herself? yet somehow, bipolar people
reproduce. we know this because here we are. lots and lots of us.

and then there is the issue of passing it on. greg says it is a
recessive gene that bounces a generation. anyone have a footnote on
that? is it cruel to possibly pass this on to someone, or is it cruel
to say that life is not worthwhile if accompanied by bipolar
disorder, and therefore bipolar disorder and its hosts should be
stamped out?


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At 8:54 AM, Blogger gregory pleshaw said...


I have to tell you - I never thought about this stuff from the female perspective - maybe it's because I no longer have a female bipolar in my personal circle of crazies. We are five men and don't even meet as often as we used to. (Everyone is more or less stabilized.) Thus, when I mail this out, I only send to crazy men - do you have females BPs who might like to chime in? (I know, this is embarassing but true.) Men out themselves to me all the time, however - women don't, which I'm sure is a whole other issue.


ps: will post this as a comment on the blog. It should be up and done in ten minutes.

ps, ps: I just posed the question of female bipolars to a friend and he asked, "Is there such a thing as a non-bipolar female?"

At 12:44 AM, Blogger magdalen said...

interesting, the idea that women don't "out" themselves about bipolar disorder. i know a few of us, but i guess i don't really know how out they are. they don't appear to be too shy about it.

there are also loads of women on social networks like Tribe identifying as bipolar in dicussion groups.

your friend sounds like an ignorant sexist. fun. "huuhhhh, huhhh, all chicks are bipolar. huhhh, huhhh! me funny!"

At 12:51 AM, Blogger magdalen said...

i'd also like to point you to some very frightening statistics. according to a study, 13% of reproductive medicine clinics (where they do in-vitro fertilization, etc.) would refuse to accept a couple in which the woman was bipolar. no comment, of course, on whether they'd take a bipolar *guy.*

of these same enlightened ART (assisted reproductive technology)practitioners, 17% would turn away a lesbian couple, 5% would turn away a biracial couple (no, i'm not making this up), 48% would turn away a gay couple seeking a surrogate (!!).

a Mother Jones article quoting the study can be found here:

At 12:02 AM, Blogger magdalen said...

i don't know if anyone is reading this thread anymore... but i received email about it to the effect that it was ridiculous of me to think that bipolars are pressured not to reproduce.

i'm still researching the issue, and the pressure is very real -- because the potential problems are very real. just read how vicious some of the letter-writers were at Salon when they ran an essay by a bipolar woman who was considering having a baby:


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