Mentally Ill and Pregnant

No, I’m not pregnant. My niece is. The same one that I wrote about in Runaway and Runaway Part II.  She has an odd diagnosis, basically everything on the extreme end of the spectrum: bipolar, schizophrenic, schizoeffective.  She is probably not all of those things but she is bipolar and does have visual and audio hallucinations.  She’s been unmedicated for over 6 months.  She started birth control pills a few months ago and then quit them.  She is 24, in college, unmarried, and still with the loser she was with before when I wrote the aforementioned posts.

All of that aside, she is an unmedicated, mentally ill, pregnant young woman.  Does anyone have any advice they can share on this subject?  If I can give her any suggestions to help her through this difficult time, I would greatly appreciate it.  One friend has already been kind enough to share her thoughts and suggestions, but I wanted to open up the suggestion box a little more by asking all of my readers for advice.

Naturally, I am very worried about her.  I wish she had waited until after she finished college and was settled into a stable relationship before getting pregnant.  I fear she won’t ever finish college.  I fear he will leave her again and she will become a single mother.  She already lives on medicaid, disability, and food stamps and barely gets by.  I fear post-postpartum depression the most.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

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13 thoughts on “Mentally Ill and Pregnant

  1. well, on the positive side, I am glad that she is in college. Does she plan to stay in college during and after pregnancy? Being that she isn’t disciplined enough to take her meds or birth control, I can see that she must not be very responsible. That sounds like my daughter, who has been diagnosed with BPD. I pray that she doesn’t get pregnant even though she is married. lol But one question now is; Will the change in hormones help her or make her worse? I hope that she has someone close by who will monitor her behavior at all times. She has passed into the unknown, being unmedicated but with hormones going nuts. Does she act like she wants the baby? If she seems indifferent I think i would talk to about the idea of Adoption. Sounds like she isn’t responsible enough to be taking care of a child right now escpecially if her boyfriend is a loser.
    I would say, talk to her about options but don’t be pushy. That may cause her to rebell and do the oposite things she should. I am thinking of my daughter as I write this. I would want to be there to help but she and her partner with AS probably wouldn’t allow it. Just don’t push her in the corner yet keep an eye on her. She may be a great mom once the child is there and motherly instincts take over. That is what I tell myself. Let her know that you have confidence in her to make the right decisions. I hope and pray that somehow this works out for her for the best. You never know really. But I will keep her in my prayers.

    • She plans to stay in college, but I don’t think she is prepared for the level of responsibility she will face as a mother. She is barely squeaking by in most classes, how will that get better with midnight feedings? No, I think she will drop out of college, despite good intentions.

      My niece has also been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. They gave her a lot of labels when she was first treated at age 15, and no one since has sifted through them to see which ones really fit. It’s only now that she is in school that she has seen an actual psychiatrist. It was always a primary care that was prescribing and tweaking her medications until she decided to stop taking them altogether. She says she feels better without the meds, but I fear she is a walking time bomb.

      There is no one to keep an eye on her except her boyfriend/fiance/father of the baby. I don’t know what his deal is other than supposedly he has mental issues that are the result of drug use in the past. I really worry about her, but I’m about 1200 miles away (if not more) so what can I do? I am trying to be supportive (even if I don’t agree with her choices) and I hope she will come to me if she needs help or an ear to listen.

      She is very excited about the baby. She really wants a baby and she really wants to marry this guy. Maybe I am just being a nervous aunt and things really will work out. But since I lost my job, I’m not in a position to bail her out if things go wrong. I really hope things work out for the best.

      • where is her mother? Is she in the picture at all? I am glad that she al least seems to have good intentions. But that BPD will make it hard to stick to it.

      • When she talked to her mom, my sister hung up on her. Then texted her that she didn’t know how my niece could bring a child into this world with mental issues and she felt sorry for the baby. (I’m paraphrasing from my memory here, but it was something like that.) Yeah, my sister can be a selfish bitch sometimes. She’s not always very supportive of her daughter. I think they will make up but my niece was very upset when I talked to her the other day. She is afraid her mother won’t be a part of her baby’s life because of her choices. It really comes down to the baby’s father in large part. My sister doesn’t like him or approve of him. I’ve never met him, but I don’t have a good impression of him from what’s happened in the past. I don’t know what my sister will do in terms of supporting her daughter. All I know is that my niece said to me, “Sometimes I feel closer to you than I do my mom.”

      • My niece said her mother is starting to be a bit nicer, but she won’t apologize. (Apparently she never apologizes for anything.) So at least that is something. Thank you for your prayers. 🙂

  2. I was depressed while pregnant twice. I was allowed to stay on my antidepressants – I was monitored. The chance of something possibly affecting the baby was not as bad as me not taking anything and if not killing myself, not taking care of myself at all. Hard decisions, but my daughters turned out okay.

    I hope she can get in with an understanding doctor. My second doc especially was new and knew a lot more about this stuff so she wasn’t so scared about it. Helped me a lot. Also I went to counseling. I’m not sure if those are options, but I hope so.

    Alice

    • Do you mind if I ask which antidepressants you were on? Antidepressants don’t work too well for my niece – she tends to get suicidal – but she only tried them as a teenager so it could be an age thing.

      Who was monitoring your medications? A pdoc or OB-GYN? I’ll see if she can get counseling through school. She will probably tell me she doesn’t need it. She still acts and thinks like a teenager in a lot of ways. I don’t know if she realizes what she is getting into by having a child.

      • I was on two different ones. Both times I was monitored by an OBGYN. With the first one I was on Paxil. With the second I was on Zoloft. Now I see commercials saying “if your baby was affected by (one of these meds) call this law firm” but my children are fine and very healthy. They are 12 and 8 now, so I’m not sure if there have been studies since then. It’s just my experience. But I still think it is better in most cases to take a slight risk in the future vs a definite risk then.

        I do know antipsychotics can be dangerous and I had to stop taking klonapin (relaxy pill) immediately. I hope she gets some counseling. They nearly hospitalized me, but let me stay out if I promised to go often. I was fortunate that my counselor was kind and wrote off several visits. If she has a chance to see one, I hope she does.

        I hope it turns out well.

  3. It sounds as though she would need to be approached with care and respect. Does she have many close friends, outside of her relationship?

    What are her reasons for not taking medication? In cases of bipolar disorder, I’m lead to believe that they do help to reduce the episodes of mania. Depression is always much harder to prevent but, sufferers generally find comfort in the confidence and support of others.

    You have fears about the reliability of her partner so, it sounds as though she may need someone she can trust for the times ahead.

    You can’t ever ‘tell’ someone what to do or think – you might have experienced this yourself. Sometimes, they only need an ear and a shoulder to cry on.

    I’m sure that you can help. 🙂

    • I’m not sure how reliable her friends are because I don’t know any of them except her best friend, who is not very supportive about the baby at this time. Her college is about 4 hours away from her mom and her best friend. Her half sisters are across the country and we (DH & I) are pretty far too.

      She doesn’t like taking Lithium because it makes her break out in horrible acne and she can’t go out and drink when she takes it. She doesn’t like Seroquel because it knocks her out so badly at night and gives her serious weight gain. She says she thinks better without the meds (no brain fog maybe?)

      All I can do is listen when she decides to tell me things. She isn’t always communicative. She will text me or call me when things are really bad, or when she has a bad fight with her mom. Or to tell me about an exam at school. I wish I could do more, but I can only do as much as lets me.

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  4. It seems that most of the comments about this was posted a while ago, but I wanted to see if I could help. I am bi-polar and was pregnant three times. i have two children…enough said about that. The pregnancy isn’t in itself a major issue. I found with my body changing that it was so complicated that my medicines couldn’t even keep up. To be safe, I didn’t take them. I look back on my writing and see very disturbing things during my pregnancy, but for me it worked out to be unmedicated. HOWEVER, each individual is different, and she must make her own decisions.

    Now, about post-partum. I have only fully lost my marbles twice in my life. Once after my first was born, and once after my second was born. The post-partum plus the bi-polar isn’t anything to play around with or ignore. Don’t assume, don’t think that you are prepared, the most dangerous time is about three to six months after the child is born (although this to is based on the person). I took so much medicine, and it didn’t work. I took so many steps to protect me and my children…it didn’t work. I say this to honestly, scare you. I am sorry to do it, but the reality of bipolar isn’t rosy or simply easy. I have a series of doctors that put me on the medication two weeks prior to my child being born. I was monitored almost daily, and I still fell drastically. I look back and realize that I could have destroyed everything – my marriage, my children, my life, my job (which I did lose both times – two different jobs (and I am a executive).

    I believe that there are a couple of things you can do. Make sure that she is “monitored” (and I mean face to face) everyday. Don’t assume she is doing well in college and doesn’t need your help. Make sure that she is seeing a doctor even when she tells you she doesn’t need to. And make sure that you are prepared for the possibility that you or someone is going to have to immediately step in and get her help, and protect her child. The good news is once the episode passes, it doesn’t seem to ever come back that strong. The bad news, it is such a strong collapse that the normal signs (which you would think is inflated) aren’t there. Be careful here, your niece and her baby’s life is on the line. Please take it seriously, and please if nothing else, talk to a professional about it.

    • Thank you for the advice. I will be sure to pass it along to my niece. Unfortunately, she doesn’t live near me, so I can’t keep an eye on her personally, but I am hoping her fiance will be sharp enough (and responsible enough) to do it. I intend to talk to her about all of these things. I don’t know that she will listen, but I can try.

      Thanks for advice. I greatly appreciate it! 🙂

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