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Kerry Hudson Headshot

Bipolar and Pregnant, Jelly Babies and EBay

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Pregnancy aside, mentality aside, I'm unfortunately caught up in the part paranoid, part reality 'What must people think of me' culture that still exists, decades after our grandmas twitched net curtains and aunties gossiped over garden fences. It still happens. We're not the doorstep gossip bunch we were during the war but chardonnay and Facebook still host the best chin wagging.

Being bipolar I expected: 'I don't think you can handle it' and 'It's not the right time' (Hello, wrong end of my thirties) and 'But what if you have a bad day?' and I did get all of the above. These reactions were, however, on delivery of the information I gave, that "I'm pregnant". But when put: "I'm having a baby" I got, even from the same people, 'You'll make a great mum!' and 'It's perfect timing' and 'How exciting!'.

And then come the questions, the SAME questions, for the next seven months to come, for which I reply, more animated (it makes up for enthusiasm) each time: "Due 11 June, we find out at our twenty week scan, and no, it's not yours!"

The support is overwhelming (good overwhelming, not go-into-hiding overwhelming), old friends come back, flowers come from proper florists, families rebond - I'm starting to wish I'd popped babies out sooner, except that gynos branded me infertile in my twenties obviously, a somewhat dark yet appropriate 'Should've Gone To Specsavers' commercial.

To answer the question people probably don't want to ask me, yes there is a chance the child could develop bipolar in later life, not a strong one, but it's out there. There's also a chance of lots of other stuff - pregnancy like any condition has risks, they just have to be minimised by lifestyle changes and attending appointments.

Another question and people do ask me this one is if I can still take me meds. I can but I don't. Can being that I'd need to change to safer types ie from lamotrigine to olanzipine (the mood stabilisers), and from venlifaxin to sertreline (the anti-depressants/anxieties) but I've been on both before which is why I switched over to begin with. Olanzipine is like (I imagine) smack but without the fun bits, and sertreline made me a bit too lively. Obviously, different meds affect different people, the above have kept fellow 'geniuses' out of trouble for decades. My propanonol (beta blockers) and zopiclone (sleepers) are a no go area. Instead I just have to panic and not sleep.

Can I stay well without the meds? Ironically I feel more stable without my mood stabilisers than I ever have, but then I have a healthy lifestyle and routine forced upon me. Maybe thats the cure for mood disorders? Get up the duff? Yes I've had a few mood swings, namely in the first trimester where the rest of the pregnant world do as well, but only around people who push my buttons. I've had to ask for a bit of space, a bit of sensitivity, a bit short of a hundred times, but falling on deaf ears I have spat my dummy out a few times. I think thats called being normal, not 'having an episode'.

But the biggest problem for me personally, which contradicts the prediction of my ever growing team of doctors - consultant obstetricians, counsellors, CPN's midwives, specialist MH midwives and peri-natal doctors, seriously, between them there are more initials after their names than the alphabet - is depression, rather than mania or psychosis. Stuff I used to enjoy I don't. Stuff I used to run home to, I don't even leave the house in the first place. I cannot get excited about anything, and I'm a naturally very excitable person. People that suggest going for walks... it's December, cold and wet and dark, and Homerton doesn't have the same qualities of say Downton. People who suggest reading a book need to check out my bookshelf first... I have a mild obsession with criminal psychology and personality disorders. But, a bit of perspective goes a long way. Yesterday I was sitting on the sofa in front of the telly, eBay on my lap and sinking jelly babies, thinking to myself 'God, all I can do in the absence of merlot and high disco kicks is shopping and eating, poor me' yet on the telly was a documentary about the Jews in Nazi occupancy.

Onwards and upwards... and here's to a nearly happy and very healthy 2014!

Around the Web

Bipolar Disorder in Pregnancy - WebMD

NAMI | Managing Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar and pregnant - Science Daily

Do pregnancy and bipolar disorder mix? - CNN.com

How to Handle Bipolar Disorders During Pregnancy in 12 Steps ...

Bipolar Disorder explained: in pregnancy & postnatal - In pregnancy ...

Bipolar Drug Can Lose Effectiveness During Pregnancy | Psych ...

Bipolar, Pregnant & Visiting the UK? They May Take Your Unborn Baby

Study: Mood-Stabilizing Drug May Help Some Develop Absolute Pitch

Growing up with a bipolar parent