(Closed) Mental illness in DH's family and future kids- looking for insight

posted 6 years ago in Wellness
Post # 3
10367 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

Has he talked to a doctor about his concerns? I ask because his beliefs seem based on assumptions and rumor more than fact. I think a doctor could help ease his concerns. Mental health is both environmental and genetic. In families, since the environments get repeated through generations, it’s hard to tease the two apart. But, there’s a lot he needs to learn if he is going to carry that burden – he doesn’t really need to be!

Also, meds and therapy are vitally important to most bipolar people (my great aunt is one). If he isn’t willing to try should he develop the disorder, he is at a serious disadvantage. You can’t simply will your brain to have the right chemical balance.

Post # 4
5958 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2018

Having kids is a genetic game of Russian Roulette…you just don’t know what is or is not going to present itself in them…schizophrenia runs in our family, but of course we had no idea until I was 13 because my father was adopted…we went, got looked at, they said we were fine, but if we felt “not fine” to come back. 

Mr. 99’s family has bipolar and mood disorder issues running rampant through the family, the way they deal with it is to support the one having the problem, celebrate their milestones and keep a weather eye on the horizon for med failure, something that seems to happen a lot for certain types of bi-polar individuals. 

I guess my point is this, if there is no prevention for something, the next best thing is to be proactive…I think being concerned is valid, but I wouldn’t let it stop me from becoming a parent if that was what I really wanted.  Being plugged in, aware and open with each other and your children as well as setting them up to succeed at the first hint of any trouble is going to get you and your children ahead.  After all, none of us are descended from genetically superior specimens, we’re just people, and that’s gotten us this far, hasn’t it?

Post # 5
752 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

Hi.  I’m sorry your DH’s family is having such a rough time.  My Darling Husband and I have actually discussed this at length because we are sort of in your same position.

My Darling Husband and I are both fairly mentally stable.  I’m sort of a control freak and he’s easy going so our personalities tend to compliment each other.  DH’s brother is completely off in la-la land – unmedicated bi-polar, refuses to work, go to therapy, try medication (aside from marijuana), physically violent, verbally abusive, etc.  DH’s father fully supports his brother financially.

I have several 1st cousins who aren’t nearly as violent or verbally abusive as DH’s brother but there is still a good healthy dose of bi-polar in my family as well. 

We’ve talked about how to handle our children if we were faced with what his parents are dealing with now.  I am certain we would manage much differently.  We’ve talked about always making our relationship with each other first over children who are mentally ill and refuse to accept help.  We’ve talked about financial planning and not allowing children to drive us broke.

I guess we are holding out hope that since we are both healthy and relatively sane, we will have children who are like us. I am also confident that since we are close to 30 our personalities are what they are and won’t change drastically.

I am 13 weeks pregnant.

Post # 7
752 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

@auggiefrog:  I would worry about him not wanting to go on meds.  Sometimes we need meds even if it’s for a little while.  I would also wonder if his opinion on meds would affect how he’d want to treat your children if they showed signs of mental illness.  If he feels like meds are a bad idea is he going to feel that way when it comes to his kids.

DH’s father was in major denial and let his ego get in the way of letting DH’s mom get treatment for his brother when he was young.  That’s another thing we’ve talked about…being open and willing to obtain treatment seems like something that should be agreed upon before you venture down the road.

Post # 8
1333 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

As other PP’s have stated, there would be no test/no crystal ball to predict how your children’s mental stability will be, etc.  You could have a ‘perfect’ genetic make-up, and then experience something in life that causes a mental breakdown.  Adversely, you could have families with tons of mental illness, and a child/adult whom remains mentally ‘healthy’ for life!!  The best you can do is raise your children in an enviroment where honesty and openness is hugely important.  Educating them on the illnesses in your families, and/or always inviting them to come to you when they feel sad/depressed/anxious/’odd’ – you name it!

The good news is that a mental illness is not the end-all-be-all.  It does not need to be a death sentence, nor does it mean they cannot be functioning/healthy members of society 🙂  Some can be ‘cured’ with therapy, while others would require a lifetime of therapy and meds.  BUT, I say you cross that bridge if/when you need too, and in the meantime educate yourselves on the mental illness (signs, symptoms, helpful habits, etc)!! 

Post # 9
1599 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I completely understand your concerns. My dad’s family has a history of mental illness. His mother was probably bipolar, but back in the 50’s and 60’s, they just labeled her as “crazy.” She eventually had a nervous breakdown and was unable to function as an adult for most of my dad’s life. She died before my parents even met and this has haunted me for YEARS.

My dad has also suffered from severe anxiety and boughts of depression off and on throughout his life. A few years ago the anxiety became nearly debilitating. Luckily, though, he has made HUGE progress.

I have also had anxiety for pretty much my entire life. I have been on several different types of meds and been to see therapists off and on over the years. Sometimes my anxiety is overwhelming and sometimes it barely seems like a problem, which is frustrating to me. And in the back of my head, I’m always afraid that I’m going to eventually snap and end up like my dad’s mother, and I am afraid that if we ever have kids, they will have mental issues or I will be a terrible mother.

But the thing I have to remember is that I can’t let my fear of the unknown dictate my life and my decisions. And just because there’s a history of mental illness doesn’t mean that my kids will DEFINITELY have it. There’s also a chance they could have cancer or developmental issues, etc. The fear is always there but I’m really hoping it doesn’t stop us from TTC if we decide to.

It’s also good that you know of this problem. You’ll know what to look out for and how to handle it if it does happen. But PPs are right — mental illness can’t be predicted and sometimes, no matter what you do, it can’t be avoided.

Just know that it may not ever happen. And if it does, it is totally treatable, especially if the person is open to therapy, medication, etc.

You’re not alone! 

Post # 10
7771 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

I would recommend talking to a doctor like crayfish recommended.  He is not certain to have the same condition as his siblings, and your children are not guaranteed to either.  This isn’t something I would worry about.  If he does ever get diagnosed with bipolar, — I know many people with the disorder that lead healthy and successful lives.  But they are medicated.  It is extremely important to have a good doctor/ team or support, and medication if someone truly has bipolar.  It is a medical thing that needs to be approached and treated as such.  It is not simply someone with different moods, as it is often portrayed in society!

I agree with what crayfish says.  I do think that there is a genetic and environmental aspect, so even if children are at increased genetic exposure, it is very likely with a healthy stable environment that they won’t develop those things.  Just like a person without a known genetic correlation may be at risk if they live through very traumatic events.

Post # 12
3776 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2004

@auggiefrog:  I feel like this is the story of my life that you are telling.  My husbands two sisters both have significant mental health issues (psychiatric ward stays, meds, etc).  Mental illness seems to run in his family like brown eyes run in other families.  His mother, aunts, cousins, niece, and grandmother do as well.  We have been together for 11 years and we have made a couple of observations that have been helpful to us in deciding the hows and ifs of having children:

The mental illness’ that they have tend to only show up in the women in the family.

The children who grow up in stable, happy families don’t end up with severe mental health issues.  At least in my husband’s family, the difference is day and night with regard to stability and dysfunction being major players in the children’s mental health outcomes.

    We did decide to have children.  We have two girls, ages 4 and 6.  Knowing that girls are affected by mental illness in his family has caused us to make conscience choices about the way they are raised.  We do not every take them around his families dysfunction.  They are involved to the level that things run smoothly and drama and issues are not in play.  We also parent with a high level of stability and predictability.  We are schedule people and we purpose to maintain a calm and supportive home environment.  I am not saying that this will absolutely keep them from having mental illness, but we are making a healthy and secure environment with highly predictable people and situations in an effort to foster healthy emotional and mental health.

Post # 13
289 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I work as a counsellor, mainly with youth.

Nona99 is right, it’s a total gamble. So many kids with parents who have no serious history of mental illness are severely mentally ill.

Some have mentally ill parents who are homeless due to their illness and the kids are ok.

Post # 16
10571 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

Have you thought about talking to a genetic counsellor?  Even if the hereditary aspect can’t be calculated, they should be able to help you address the concerns you have.

The topic ‘Mental illness in DH's family and future kids- looking for insight’ is closed to new replies.

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