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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Koios and I are flying out to see his family for the holidays tomorrow. I am… less than thrilled about it. Every year we switch off over which side of the family we’re going to be with at Christmas and this year it’s his turn. I’m happy to go with him because I know how much he loves his family, but I absolutely hate the traveling part. Most of it has to do with my bipolar.

Why It’s Hard For Me To Travel To See Family (in list form)

1. Timezones. I’ve found that I don’t have a problem with traveling in this timezone. I adjust just fine, no hiccups or bumps in my mental health at all. But when I’m traveling to a place that’s three timezones away it fucks up my internal clock and when I take my medications. I’m tired and irritable and snappy and undermedicated one minute, then zombified when my medications hit. It sucks.

2. Staying at someone else’s house. We can’t afford to stay at a hotel so we end up staying at his mom’s house. Koios’s mom is awesome and friendly, but I don’t like having to sleep in other people’s houses. I can visit with family and make my required appearances so long as I know that I have a “home base” where I can just relax and put aside my public persona. When we’re staying in the guest room I feel like I always have to be “on”, holding together my bipolar tendencies by a very thin thread. I don’t want to go crazy in front of Koios’s entire giant family, which puts more pressure on me that makes it harder to hold myself together.

3. Not having a car. When I travel I usually feel very out of control and not having a personal mode of transportation intensifies that. When we have to bum a ride from his sister/mom or take the bus I feel like I’m not in control of where I am. I’m always relying on someone else to come or go from someplace and it makes me more on edge.

4. Caring what people think of me. If I didn’t care if Koios’s family liked me or not, traveling to see them would be really easy. I’d just say “fuck it” to everything and do what I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. Instead being around his family makes me weird and awkward and starts the hypomanic racing thoughts, over-analyzing everything that I do and say to someone. I get really insecure and uncomfortable and almost terrified to move or talk, lest I do the wrong thing. I know logically that his family is really laid-back and nonjudgmental, but I still feel that way anyway.

5. Lack of personal space and control at the airport. Sitting really close to someone for 7 hours on a plane puts me in Everyone Else First mode. “Should I get my laptop from my carry-on bag at my feet? I don’t know, I might bother the guy next to me reading. It’s really hot but I don’t want to take off my jacket; I might bump that guy. I have to pee, but I don’t want to inconvenience that guy while he’s trying to sleep”. That’s pretty much all that I can think when I’m on a plane. Add that to the anxiety about missing a layover because I can’t just MAKE THE PLANE WAIT FOR ME makes flying hell. I expect too much of myself and disparage my lack of ability to somehow make everything okay.

Anyway, I have to clean and pack for tomorrow. Wish me luck.

-Ashes

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When I look at my family I can see the cause of my bipolar. My maternal grandmother has more diagnoses than I have fingers, bipolar among them. She can’t work, refuses to take medication and lives in filth. Four of her five siblings are so incapacitated by mental illnesses that they shouldn’t be living alone. Her sister is currently in the state mental institution for violently assaulting another woman on the street while in a manic state exaggerated by a cocaine high.

Some people say that mental illness is less about genetic predisposition and more about environment. I call bullshit on that right now: You can’t tell me that genes have nothing to do with it when five of the six children born to my great-grandparents have severe mental illnesses, while one who lived in the exact same environment and family turned out well adjusted and happy. It turns out that my great-grandfather’s parents were first cousins and the generation-skipping manifestation of mental illness is too much of a steady pattern from that point to be a coincidence. Autoimmune diseases also run in my mom’s family, as seen by our tendency to have thyroid issues, rheumatoid arthritis, and female reproductive tumors and growths.

I refuse to pass these traits onto the next generation. I consider myself a personal eugenicist; I recognize how much genetics can affect the next generation of humans and I don’t think my genes are worthy of the privilege to be carried on. I don’t expect other people to feel the same way, but I wish that people would be more aware of their genetic profiles before they decide to have children. My mom knew that there was a high likelihood that my brother or I would end up with these physical or mental illnesses but she chose to have children anyway, damn the consequences on our lives. Although I understand that plenty of people live with these disorders and have relatively full and happy lives I cannot justify possibly burdening my child with bipolar or RA.

Then there’s the issue of actually raising a child. I would want to breastfeed and would only use formula if absolutely necessary for the child’s health, so I’d have to be off my meds from when I knew I was pregnant to possibly a year and a half after birth. Dealing with infants and children has always been a bipolar trigger for me,  and even when I’m on my medications it’s hard for me to stay calm with all the shrieking and crying and whining and disobeying. I lash out in irrational anger at them, sometimes violently. My mom stopped letting me babysit my younger brother after she kept coming home to find him up against a wall in a chokehold or begin held down by my knees while I punched him. I literally couldn’t stop myself. To this day I don’t know whether he was trying to provoke me. I think he was, but that could just be a bit of the bipolar paranoia trying to fool me.

I don’t think I’ll ever be stable enough to raise a child with consistency. I’m afraid that my mood swings will teach the child that mummy is a volatile, unpredictable force. I don’t think I could shove down my moods and reactions to lead by example with fairness and logic.  I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I warped my kid because of my bipolar.

It doesn’t hurt me to know that I will probably never be a mother; I can think of other things I’d like to be. But some weird part of me that apparently embodies the anti-women bullshit that I normally fight against says that I’m less of a woman because of it. It says that I’m less of a person because of my decision. I don’t know why that voice is in my head of why I have those doubts, but I know that being childless is a choice I can live with.

-Ashes

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