When I was pregnant with my son, I was under treatment for depression, but was not yet diagnosed bipolar type II. That diagnosis I received when he was two. We ended up deciding not to have more children, not because we feared passing on a genetic risk for bipolar disorder, but because one was all we could handle, especially given that our son was EXTREMELY active (later treated for hyperactivity, doing very well now as a teen).
What I did fear, though, was whether I was a good enough mother. I had internalized stigma against the diagnosis of bipolar disorder over that of depression. Internalized stigma is a horrible thing. It eats at your sense of self worth.
We can be great mothers whether or not we live with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Even if our children do inherit the “bipolar gene,” treatments are always improving. Think of the improvements over the past 50 years, then project 50 years into the future. Who would be better to obtain treatment and show compassion that a parent who has lived through the same symptoms? But, as my psychiatrist reminds me, we must be careful not to project our symptoms and our fears onto our kids. Just because we have bipolar disorder, does not mean that they will.