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Age of onset and difficulty relating to other types of bipolar disorder

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Okay, I started getting manic when I was 5 in the summer, I just would stop sleeping from what I recall and I was also hyperactive so it was obvious.  I notice a lot of differences between my illness vs adolescent and adult onset bipolar disorder sufferers.


One thing is insight.  I have been told my insight into my illness was different before.


My overall happiness.  I don't have the "what life was like before that I will never get back" issues that I hear from adolescent or adult onset cases.  Most of my hell was when I was young.  I tend to get a lot of resentment by those types in groups because I appear to be better off than they are and am not as medicated appearing.  I usually come back with, I never got to have that happy childhood and success in high school etc that you miss.


My attitude toward symptoms.  To me, when I catch it, it is annoying, like a headache.  Others I have seen go into crisis mode and are scared and whatnot.  I can understand because when I am acute and paranoid or violent I get scared too.


Medications and co-occuring diagnoses and symptoms associated with other developmental issues... I do something called stimming which is apparently like Autism.  On specific subjects, specifically other languages I can obsess like an aspie.  I feel more content being a loner as well, because I appear "regulation attractive" and am approached a lot, when asked out to coffee, I often answer, "for what?"  Walking on my tiptoes apparently associated with autism.  Hypersensitivity to noise and smells and hating tags and whatnot on clothes.  Routines that nothing or nobody can break or I fly off the handle.


Med-wise:  My ADHD med being increased during mania helps calm it down more and it is a powerful amphetamine which goes against all logic.  My ADHD and bipolar illnesses feed into each other a lot more than others I have seen.  I only get manic.  I am almost angry that depression has it's own category but I am labeled as bipolar I, when I really have unipolar mania.  My hyperactivity hasn't changed either despite what all of the "Adult ADD" propaganda states.  I sort of think my illness, although currently 2 diagnoses could be their own thing, a developmental disorder.  I have some manic symptoms that seem to be part of my personality too... a hypomanic personality and I think that has to do with it being developmental.


This new temper tantrum disorder they came out with may help some of the brats that get mislabeled as bipolar.  And as a bipolar kid, I was a brat and needed discipline while most people had the "awww that poor kid, he's touched in the head" and as a brat, I did way more damage than these kids I see on 15 meds that are labeled with "bipolar".  I am curious if adolescent and adult onset cases have differences as well.


I know support groups and online forums with parents with bipolar kids, they tend to get nasty when I say, bipolar or not, kids are going to be annoying brats.   They were furious when I let them know about my years of doing the "I can't swallow pills" stunt.  I lied about that and they still gave them to me and they were gross crushed up.  Most kids I knew and know and see today that do the "I can't swallow pills" routine can and are just lying because I have been there and can tell what they are doing.  I never wanted them as a kid either.


I know, I am rambling but I can't find research that is specific to this and it annoys me.

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and I understand that we all have differences in issues with our bipolar disorder but mine has things about it that have developmental disorder, Asperger's type stuff.  I am very smart 152 IQ and I speak 6 languages so there isn't an issue there, I just think there should be more studies on this.

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You'll find plenty of folks here that have been BP their whole life. I'm one of them. I have a time before Dx. I do not have a time where I wasn't BP. 


When I'm symptomatic I tend to have mixed episodes rather than depressed or manic. I get all three but I'm mixed more than pure depression or mania. Can't really say that one is any better than the other. They all sort of suck. I probably get into more trouble when mixed or manic. When I'm depressed, I mostly don't do anything other than think about ways to die.


I'm sure there should be more studies. I'm sure there will be. They're always studying. 


Six languages. You're fluent? Spoken and written? Some people have a knack for languages. I'm not one of them.

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I don't remember a time that I wasn't BP.  My tdoc is teaching me what "normal" means as far as thoughts and actions.  Otherwise, I would have no fucking clue.  I am somewhat jealous of people who say "I finally got back to the way I used to be before the MI".  If I did that, I would be like 3 yrs old or something.

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You are lucky you got treatment so early on. I had problems starting in childhood too but never got treatment because my parents were too focused on my brother (long story).

Count your blessings.

ETA: if I would have gotten treatment early on I would have been so much better off. I would have had a better childhood and adolescence. I suffered for so long with no proper treatment AT ALL. You are damn lucky to have caring parents that got you help.

Edited by Wonderful.Cheese
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My BP onset was around 14/15 or so. I didn't get diagnosed and treated until I was 26. I don't get euphoric hypo/mania, only dysphoric. I'm told I have a very high level of insight which helps me spot incoming episodes which break through my medication regime, sometimes that means IP treatment but I always seem to baffle the docs in there because even in the midst of a disabling episode I am very matter-of-fact and so forth.

Stimming and autistic-like behaviours can actually show up in ADHD, though people can have both (I do.) But yeah stimming and obsessive interests can definitely show up in some people's ADHD. There's an interesting crossover on that, and in the other direction too - autistic folks having some ADHD-esque symptoms.

Generally a lot of MIs can be co-morbid... like bipolar and ADHD, higher ratio of folks with bipolar also have ADHD than non-bipolar folks having ADHD.

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I was depressed/anxious as a kid and had a good family life, I'd say, but I don't remember ever being happy, at all. Bipolar PROBABLY started just six years ago, when I was 21.


I still lump it all into "I was always fucked up and it was pretty disabling." I don't envy people that had normal lives until their late teens or twenties or whatever. I feel like if that were the case, for me PERSONALLY, I'd feel a lot of resentment that I was better once and able to accomplish more in life and all the "oh what I could have done if I wasn't ill" shit. I get to avoid that. I like that.


I'm mad I was always fucked up, but I think I'd rather have that. . . for those reasons above. I think those things would cause ME great sorrow.


I don't know about the rest of the shit. MI is a complicated area of life for most of us. I've had to worry about being on stimulants myself because I hate hypomania, truly and I worry that those would make it worse, like you. I'm surprised to hear of someone that seems to think it helps that. It may be rare, but kind of encouraging.


SIX  LANGUAGES? I can barely handle English (my native language).  Good for you! That's great!

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I forgot to mention, I do often find that I have difficulty relating to many other stories I hear about others' bipolar disorder.


Insight is a big one.  I didn't have it pre-diagnosis (at least, not into my bipolar behaviours,) but after I was Dx'd with it I did a lot of research and talked a lot with the therapist I had a the time, not to mention had discussions on here.  I believe that insight in and of itself is not something everybody is capable of having, I know some very intelligent and self-aware people who utterly lose insight into their illness/behaviour/etc. once an episode hits, even with careful monitoring of pre-dromal red flags.  Some may have it at the start of an episode but lose it as the episode progresses.  Some of us who have insight at the start can learn to develop the gift further which I have done and continue to do so.


Medication compliance.  Aside from issues of forgetfulness and related, I have no personal qualms taking medications for the rest of my life.  I know I used to be wary of meds, I know the likely causes as to why I felt that way, but I literally cannot remember what it felt like and I cannot relate to that viewpoint on a gut level.  I've been anxious over new meds and potential side effects before but I always find research rather reassuring, and remind myself that people can have very different reactions, many side effects go away after the first week or two, "what sucks less" for side effects that may remain vs. symptom coverage, and continued close communication with my medical team who I trust very much.


Hypo/mania.  Mine are pretty much always of the dysphoric type.  Irritability, anger, temper, rage, increased anxiety, heightened sensory issues (that are already bad because of the ADHD & autism,) lots of agitation, and a strong desire to say "FUCK YOU" to the world and go live in an isolated cave in the mountains somewhere.  Back in March I had a hypomanic episode and rather than go on some cleaning spree in my house I built a giant blanket fort in the living room as my "cave away from the world" which was actually rather effective.  I don't miss mania, I don't want mania, it's usually not some big scary crisis but pre-diagnosis I did one one last for months and then wreck into my assaulting someone in a hypomanic rage, so I work very hard to nip it in the bud as soon as I catch any early warning signs.


Depression.  I tend to get mixed features in this.  From apathy to flat-out depression, I typically have issues with insomnia like I do in hypo/mania though sometimes I'll do the sleep-more-often version though it's rare.  I get more impulsive while depressed, rather than while manic, because if I've got a case of anhedonia I just don't really give a fuck and I want to feel SOMETHING and if I'm depressed I don't give a fuck because I suck and life sucks and the world sucks so I do stuff to distract myself.  I become more social when depressed while I hide from the world when manic, again the increased social activity is an attempt to distract myself from how I feel about myself and life and everything.


I don't get hypersexual in any of this.  I do have a high sex drive normally but I don't see a problem with that and though ethically promiscuous I am also choosy about partners and maintain a high level of risk-awareness and safer sex practices.  I don't, even when depressed, go on wildly impulsive spending sprees.  I don't have psychotic features.  I got wildly lucky and got an amazing pdoc who I love working with.  The second mood stabilizer I was tried on turned out to be the "magic bullet" even for my depression, though it's not known for helping depression at all.


Not that every other person with bipolar is the opposite to me in these areas.  Just, many frequent themes that I see tend to go contrary to my own experiences so I can sometimes find it tricky to relate to others who technically share my diagnosis (with bipolar, anyway.)

Edited by Mirazh
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