Friday, July 29, 2011

Difficult Topic #2

Dear Baby,

I want to talk more about "mental disorders", since there's a possibility you'll inherit one from your daddy or myself. Lots of people have different medical factors in their life, and there's a big possibility you will too.

But, rest assured, Baby, there's nothing wrong with you. Everyone is different: We have different hair, different skin, different beliefs, different dreams...and we all have different bodies. Our bodies all function in different ways. I still haven't met a person who doesn't have some sort of health factor that's different from "average function". Some people get headaches very often, but someone with "average function" rarely gets headaches. Some people have asthma, but someone with "average function" never has breathing problems. And, some people have chemical imbalances in their brains, whereas someone with "average function" has everything perfectly in balance all the time.

Chemical imbalances in the brain are what cause "mental disorders". Chemical imbalances can be difficult to explain, but I think it makes sense to compare it to asthma. So that's what I'll do!

Some people have very mild asthma. These people don't need to take medicine for their asthma; they just need to be taught by their doctors how to help their lungs regain their "average function" when the asthma makes it difficult to breath. The doctors teach these people to just rest and breathe deeply when their asthma is active. Some people have moderate asthma. These people don't need to take medicine all the time; they just need to take their medicine when their lungs are extra stressed, and need a little chemical help maintaining their "average function". When these people feel better, and their lungs aren't so stressed, they can stop taking the medicine. And, some people have severe asthma. These people have to take medicine every day to help their lungs maintain their "average function". All these people have asthma, but their experiences with the asthma are different. And, all these people can live normal lives, as long as they pay extra attention to their lungs to make sure they don't get too stressed.

Just like asthma, there's different severities of chemical imbalances. Some people only need to be trained by doctors (and counsellors) on how to maintain their brain's "average function" without medicinal help. Some people only need to take medicine when their brain is extra stressed; and when they feel better, they can stop taking the medicine. And, some people need to take medicine every day to help their brain maintain its "average function". All these people have chemical imbalances, but their experiences with the imbalances are different. And, all these people can live normal lives, as long as they pay extra attention to their moods to make sure they don't get too distressed.

And, just like there's nothing wrong with a person with asthma; there's nothing wrong with a person with a chemical imbalance. It's important to remember that noone's body will function perfectly all the time. Some people don't need medicine, some people need medicine sometimes, and some people need medicine every day for all sorts of reasons. Everyone is different in every way, and being different in any way is never wrong or weird or anything you have to let get in the way of having a normal life.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Difficult Topic #1

Dear Baby,

Everytime I go to the clinic to get a refill for my medication, there's this one doctor that seems to judge me. Unfortunately, it seems he's almost always the one that's working there when I go in. Just my luck! Anyway, it makes me feel kind of uncomfortable that he always interrogates me about, not only the medicine, but the dosage too.

You see, Baby, I'm on a mood-stabilizing medicine called Paxil. I'm on 60mg a day, which is a rather high dosage. Paxil is a "Pregnancy Class D" medicine: This means that there's an increased risk of birth defects in babies whose mothers take Paxil during pregnancy; however in some cases it's healthier for the mother to continue the medication, rather than try to function without it. After thinking about it very hard, I decided that I truly believe you and I fall into the latter category. I really believe the benefits of continuing Paxil (at my current dosage) far outweigh the extra 2% increase in the possibility of you having a birth defect.

Now, if I chose wrong, and you are born with either holes in the heart, club foot, PPHN, omphalocele, or an abnormally shaped skull; then you can blame me, and I won't hold it against you. In fact, you can trust that I already blame myself.

That seems like a scary list, and you might already be mad at me for my decision, but allow me to clarify some things. I did extensive research on this; and although the risks for birth defects are increased when the mother continues Paxil, the actual percentage of risk is still very low. There's a 2% chance that, even without Paxil, you'd be born with a birth defect; Paxil doubles that percentage, but that means it's still only a 4% chance.

On top of that, if I did stop using Paxil, you would have had to try to grow and flourish while being carried by a mother who would have multiple panic attacks a day, every day. The panic attacks I get when I don't take Paxil are severe and last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. I have anywhere from two to five panic attacks each day. They include hyperventilating, heart palpitations, hysterics, etc. I truly believe the stress from the panic attacks would have majorly increased the chance of me miscarrying you. So far, I've had one, minor panic attack while pregnant with you. That's a vast improvement for our situation!

So, Baby, as I said, if you were born with a birth defect, I do apologize. I fully expect all the blame to fall on me, but I just want you to know that I absolutely had your best interests at heart when I made this decision. If, by some miracle, my panic attacks would have had no effect on you whatsoever, then I absolutely would have discontinued the Paxil and suffered through the panic attacks for you. I promise you were the only thing on my mind when I made my decision. I sincerely hope I made the right one! We'll find out in about 3 1/2 months.