Tag Archives: mental health

Will I Ever Get to be a Grandma?

wonderwomans-biological-clockAs the result of a second marriage later in life, I am a mom of four very eclectic young adults. Our “kids” range in age from 25 through 34. My 30 year old recently sent me an article entitled “11 Brutally Honest Reasons Why Millennials Don’t Want Kids.” Not very subtle, but just a reminder not to count on her making me a grandma. Fortunately, we both love dogs so I can at least be assured of having a dog or two to spoil. There is the possibility of grandchildren from another daughter, but she’s finally having a grand time fixing up their new house, planning trips, and generally enjoying having some disposable income now that her husband is gainfully employed after finishing his PhD. It will be a few years at best.

I certainly understand why people don’t want to reproduce. When I was questioning if I wanted to start a family, I asked several of my fellow teachers who were parents if given the choice they would do it again. Most said no. I was surprised. I’d always loved being around kids and couldn’t imagine my life without being a mom. However, it is by far the hardest job I’ve ever done. Having a child should be a very well thought out decision. Before someone decides to attempt a pregnancy, here are a few things to think about first:

  1. Many young adults will spend years paying off their student loans. Older generations were rarely crippled by debt from student loans. Many young adults feel the need to go on to get advanced degrees and their parents may not be able to help pay the bills. This leaves them saddled with huge debt. Many are underemployed even with a Master’s or PhD.
  2. While everybody says their families are crazy, the fear of passing on mental health issues is real for many. Growing awareness of how many different conditions may be genetically passed gives many educated young adults pause. Do they really want to risk passing something on to another generation?
  3. There are just too many people already. So many of the world’s problems stem from overpopulation, too much waste and too much consumption of natural resources. Why add to that?
  4. Getting pregnant may not be so easy. As couples wait longer to conceive, more are having fertility issues. While new techniques may make pregnancy a possibility, the financial reality is that the costs involved may be beyond many couples’ reach.
  5. Pregnancy is less than appealing to many. The physical stresses of pregnancy are more than many women want to experience. Watching their peers struggle through morning sickness, develop stretch marks, waddle through their work day, posting their complaints and ultimately their birth videos on Facebook, sends terror through many potential parents. Before all this explicit information was available, many first time moms really didn’t know what to expect. Now every potential difficulty is graphically presented.
  6. They may be fearful that they will not be good parents. Nearly everybody wishes their parents had done things differently. Some had truly horrific parents and traumatic childhoods. Some people are afraid they will repeat the mistakes so hesitate taking on the responsibility.
  7. Many females don’t feel the urge to be moms. That’s much more OK now than in the past.
  8. World events make this world a scary place. Need I say more?
  9. After working hard at starting a career, fear of losing that momentum is a concern. Unfortunately, this can still be a reality. Your single or male coworkers keep moving up and you have to take time to give birth, go to doctor’s appointments, take a day when your child is sick etc.
  10. Children cramp your style. Unless you have the funds to hire help, your life will not be the same. Going to the store becomes more complicated let alone sleeping late, taking a vacation, having a relaxing meal or even doing pretty much everything you never thought much about doing without being interrupted.
  11. Sometimes no reason is a reason. Despite nagging parents, family members and annoying friends, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. It’s your decision.

Having said all that, my life would have been different in so many ways without my children, some better, some worse. Now that they are adults, I still feel their pain and sadness when something goes wrong but also get to share in their triumphs and joys.

Here and here are some excellent examples of women who chose not to have children.

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What We’re Reading via The New York Times

If you don’t follow The New York Times, you should. One of the reasons we love it is because they publish excellent and timely articles on health, and we sex educators rely on it to stay up on the latest news. It is a reliable and sound resource for us. Here are a few of our recommendations from the last month or so…

Searching for Sex, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, January 25, 2015

If you’re fascinated by all things sex ed like I am, you MUST read this article. I’m not even going to prep you with a little introductory paragraph because I want you to be totally blown away. The article is a bit long so if you don’t have time now, bookmark it for later.

Medicating Women’s Feelings, by Julie Holland, February 28, 2015

There are lots of things our society doesn’t talk enough about and mental health tops the list, in my opinion. This article, written by an experienced psychiatrist, says enough is enough! She says, “The new, medicated normal is at odds with women’s dynamic biology; brain and body chemicals are meant to be in flux. By evolutionary design, we are hard-wired to be sensitive to our environments, empathic to our children’s needs and intuitive of our partners’ intentions. Women’s emotionality is a sign of health, not disease; it is a source of power. But we are under constant pressure to restrain our emotional lives.” I highy recommend this read…share the article, talk about it, reach out to a friend.

Two Strains of H.I.V. Cut Vastly Different Paths by Carl Zimmer, March 2, 2015

Two strains of HIV-2 have made it to gorillas from chimps, and it's created two rare strains, O and P.

Two strains of HIV-2 have made it to gorillas from chimps, and it’s created two rare strains, O and P, both of which have jumped to humans in Cameroon

We’ve posted many articles about HIV before, including this one the origin of HIV. What I like about Carl Zimmer’s article is that he retraces what we already knew about HIV’s origin, but helps us fill in the gaps by exposing us to new research. HIV-2 didn’t just take one giant leap from primate to human, IT TOOK NINE! HIV-1 was trickier to track down. Scientists have been sifting through chimpanzee and gorilla feces for years looking for answers and now they finally have definitive proof that they can use to reconstruct the path that HIV-1 took. It’s a very fascinating read so be sure to check it out!

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Seasonal Affective Disorder: The Winter Time Blues

Dealing with Seasonal Affective DisorderDepression is one of the most common mental health issues that occur within the United States, with about 1 in 10 people currently experiencing symptoms. Depression, sometime known as chronic sadness or the blues, is a state of mood in which the person experiences a decrease in happiness or normal mood functioning, specifically becoming sad or sluggish. Here are some screening criteria providers use when assessing for depression (symptoms must be present for at least two consecutive weeks):

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

If you’re having such symptoms, know that you’re not alone! Successful treatment of depression can include talk therapy, behavioral modifications, or prescription medications. If you’re unable to shake your mood alone, please contact your health care professional. If you don’t have access to health insurance or can’t afford a private clinician on your own, be aware of the community behavioral centers in your area, many accept clients free of charge or work on a sliding scale basis. Further, some additional statistics on depression highlight that it is more common in some populations than others, including:

  • persons 45-64 years of age
  • women
  • blacks, Hispanics, non-Hispanic persons of other races or multiple races
  • persons with less than a high school education
  • those previously married
  • individuals unable to work or unemployed
  • persons without health insurance coverage (Ironic, no?)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that happens when seasons change. Most often found in fall/winter, studies have shown that up to 20% of people experience this phenomenon, though some people do show symptoms in spring or summer. Researchers posit that the disorder is linked to changes in the amount of sunlight people experience, and light therapy (sitting under light sources that imitate the sun’s rays) has been effective in treatment.
Depression, whether seasonally induced or otherwise, can be a debilitating state for those who experience it. Many support groups and self-help material exist to assist you through your time of sadness, here are a few resources to try:

Though Planned Parenthood does not treat mental health issues, your overall health is important to us, and we can provide you with resources in our health center communities upon request. We care – no matter what.

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