I’ve been trying to conceive for six years now. Six exceptionally long years. My husband and I have tried everything short of IVF, and now that it has been placed at my feet, I’m not sure I want to pursue it. Mental illness makes me unsure I can be a mom.
I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). And bipolar disorder. And infertility. And anxiety and depression and OCD. And PTSD. And I don’t have my right ovary or fallopian tube anymore, only my left one.
Most people don’t know that PCOS is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with many cysts. It is most often accompanied by the inability to ovulate and infertility. But there are many other awful symptoms—hair loss on the head, excessive hair growth on the body and face (ironically), stubborn fat around the belly region that is difficult to lose, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and the list goes on and on.
Studies are now finding that it’s often also accompanied by depression and anxiety.
I wish I could just flip a coin
Some days I want to be a mother so bad it is all I can think of. I imagine the scenarios in my head: first word, first steps, the first day of school. Sometimes my heart is heavy with it. It physically aches in my chest, like an empty void.
Other days, I’m simply grateful for this life I have—my husband, my dogs, my own life—and I’m not sad. I’m resolute in my decision not to pursue further fertility treatments.
I enjoy sleeping in, having my own time, doing what I want when I want. I’m in school pursuing my master’s degree in business. I run my blog on mental health. I love my career. I have a network of friends I consider my family and parents I love greatly.
Parenting and mental illness
Sometimes I dream of her, my daughter that I don’t have. Her brown wavy hair curling around her round, pale face. I feel her tiny hand in mine, and I hold it tight. I look into her face that is like mine, into her green, green eyes like her father’s, and I try to remember every detail. Etch it into my mind like stained glass, and when I wake up, I am always surprised that she is not real. I expect her to be looking back into my eyes, waiting for me to wake up so we can start our day.
I often think maybe I’m childless because of my mental illness, that perhaps God did not want me to pass this to a child—this sickness that consumes my mind most days, that makes everything black.
I wouldn’t wish this on my own worst enemy, and I certainly would never want my child to carry it.
Our last option–and coming to terms
With my medical history, IVF is our last option, and it only has a 30-50 percent success rate for the first cycle for women under 35, according to our fertility specialist. IVF is incredibly expensive and still considered experimental by most insurances, so it’s either barely covered, or not covered at all.
And then there’s my bipolar disorder.
I’m not sure I’m capable of raising a child because of my mental illness.
There have been times I’ve been lying on the bathroom carpet, sobbing, wanting to die. I can’t control that. I don’t know when the darkness will come.
When I become manic, I’m impulsive, irritable and quick to anger. How do I know I wouldn’t hurt my child? I don’t, and that, to me, is more important than my own selfish need to be a mother ever will be.
Imagining my unborn daughter is always heartbreaking, but not in a sense you would think. It’s not a fresh heartbreak. It doesn’t cut like a knife. It’s a deep wound, one that aches, one that’s become known to me as much as hunger is known to a human. Or thirst, or warmth. I carry it always, like a well-worn sweater.
In many ways, that pain is my child.
Jasmine Farkas, “But First, Xanax”
Jasmine Farkas, 32, is an amateur blog writer, a wannabe poet and author, and mental health advocate. While working full-time, she is pursuing a master’s degree in business She is married to a loving husband and owns two dogs. She’s a sexual trauma and infertility survivor, and she has PCOS, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression and PTSD. She says, “I talk about the uncomfortable things because they need to be talked about. Break the silence. End the stigma. Find peace.”
Facebook, But First Xanax