Things were so much simpler when I was a kid. I had yet to experience my first real anxiety attack, severe depression, or serious credit card debt, and I had no idea that I would be diagnosed with bipolar disorder or experience rapid cycling. I didn’t have to think about severe weight fluctuations or how I would have to stop driving at night because of the effects of my medication.
When you’re a kid, you don’t realize how beautiful your innocence and naivete are. You grow up faster than you want to and you don’t appreciate the simplicity of life.
When do you actually grow up? When you finish university? When you move out of your parents’ house? When you get married?
I was never eager to move out of my parents’ house, because it was safe and because I hate change. When I did move out of my parents’ house, it was at age 29, with my boyfriend who shortly thereafter became my fiance. It was a big adjustment for me, to have to share my space with someone and to have someone see all sides of me, all the time, but we managed.
So now, after living together for 2 1/2 years and being married for 6 months, I do feel like a “grown up”, but sometimes I don’t want to be grown up and think about the next life steps, i.e. buying a home, getting a mortgage and having kids.
I fear running into people I haven’t seen in a while (or since the wedding) because the 2 questions they ask are 1) “How is married life?” and 2) “Are you thinking about having children?”
I believe strongly in being an honest person; I am not phony and I don’t believe that people I rarely see need to know my business. But it’s not just acquaintances who ask these questions, it can be extended family members or people at work. I really don’t know why someone else cares if/when I am going to have a child, especially if I am not related to him or her.
The subject of children is a sensitive one for me and many other women. In order for me to consider having children, I have to be referred to a high risk pregnancy clinic, start a new relationship with a psychiatrist there, determine what medications are and are not safe to be on while pregnant, and stay off benzodiazepines. Just thinking about these changes is very stressful and anxiety-provoking, never mind the concept of actually being pregnant, hormonal changes, and morning sickness (nausea and what follows nausea are major anxiety triggers for me).
It’s a big decision. It’s a life changing decision. I don’t know if I want to go down that path, and it’s a decision that only I and my husband have the right to make. It’s my body; I must have a choice as to what happens to it.
To end this post on a brighter note, I will reference an episode of Seinfeld. Elaine has a few of her girlfriends over for lunch and they are sharing pictures of their children and keep saying, “Elaine! You have to have a baby!”Later in the episode Elaine says to Jerry, “Why? Because I can?” and actually meets a man who agrees with her point of view.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to do it, or that you should do it, or that it’s right for you.
My husband and I will figure out what’s right for us when the time comes and when we are ready. The key words being “right for us” and “ready”.
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!