My daughter just turned 22. She has been married for 1 1/2 years now. She has graduated college and moved across the country to be with her marine husband. She has anxiety and depression. I didn’t ‘buy’ the theory of ‘passing on’ depression when my mother, who has depression, said she felt guilty for ‘giving’ it to me. Now that I have dealt with it for so long and I see my daughter experiencing similar things, and I have learned about other family members and their mental illnesses, I am starting to ‘buy in’ to that idea.
Too late for me to not pass on my defective genes to my kids, so I would really hope that they would think about it for their own offspring. But how do you tell someone to not have kids just because there is an off chance that they could be affected by mental illness? I know I have no right what so ever to say anything to another adult about having children. (Minors are a different issue. I’ll tell ANY kid to NOT have kids). I know there are worse things in life than depression, anxiety, OCD, BPD (all in our family gene pool along with a few other conditions I won’t go into). I know the optimists will say I am expecting the worst and just setting myself, my daughter and son and their potential children up for a self fulfilling prophecy. I think I am being a realist. If I knew there was a 50/50 chance of someone suffering the mental pain I have experienced by doing action A, then I would in no way do action A. Even with smaller odds I would not do it. There is no such thing as a cure for mental illness. You manage it. Sure there are those people who only have one episode of depression and never again in life or they experience a season of anxiety and panic attacks but then move on to never have them again. But if you could avoid that, would you not?
Genetic testing has made it where people with either certain diseases or a carrier gene for those diseases question whether or not they should reproduce. (Can’t think of many offhand other than CF). The really rare ones are usually life threatening or very burdensome. Well, I think depression is life threatening and very burdensome. Just ask my family. They have to deal with me and my moods. Although I have not attempted suicide, I would say that it is a high risk for many with depression. And then there is the fact that many of us with depression do not take care of our bodies and physical health for lack of desire and motivation. So, yeah, it is life threatening in my book.
Then there are other reasons I do not want my daughter to have children. (She keeps talking about it. She knows I am not eager to become a grandmother, but does not know the extent of my opposition). One reason has to do with my depression, well maybe two. I just in general think the world is a horrible place and see no hope. There is evil, greed, destruction all over the world. Yes, there are pockets of safe havens and happiness, but I think the world as a whole is awful. (I’m certain my depression distorts this view, but it is what I see right now). The other thing concerning my depression is my hesitancy to love anything or anyone again. I know Darcy was “just a dog” but I am still crying deeply over her death. I do not want to love anything else not because of the fear of losing it again, but because I will lose it again. Life is not static, it is ever changing. That change hurts and I do not want to experience it again.
And then I worry about her ability to handle being a parent. She has said that she will rely on me a lot. (I don’t want that). Her anxiety makes things hard for her. But I want her to get through it without me. IF she has a child while her husband is in the military, that almost guarantees somebody will have to help her. Unless of course she steps up to the plate and faces the challenges on her own. For years now I have tried to help her face her fears and conquer tasks by herself (with coaching from me or her husband) like gassing up her car, going to the bank, driving across town, making doctors’ appointments. At some point I should be able to stop coaching, right? If not, then should she really have a baby?
So, those are my feelings, right or wrong. And in the end, I really do not get to decide as it is my daughter and her husband who have that right. My son, 17, will get that right later in life.