Why It’s Hard To Treat Bipolar and Asperger’s

It was recommended to me that I write a post about how Asperger’s syndrome and Bipolar Disorder van be comorbid. As a person who lives with both, I couldn’t pass up this idea.

To tell the truth, I didn’t really know how the two connected. I’ve done some research, but not enough to remember what I read. After this person asked me about the two’s connections, I just had to look it up.

According to Merriam-Webster’s site, here are definitions for both Asperger’s and bipolar

Asperger’s Syndrome- a developmental disorder resembling autism that is characterized by impaired social interaction, by restricted and repetitive behaviors and activities, and by normal language and cognitive development —called also Asperger’s disorder

Bipolar Disorder-  any of several psychological disorders of mood characterized usually by alternating episodes of depression and mania —called also manic depression, manic-depressive illness

These might not sound like they have much in common, but there is much more to it than a simple definition.

My psychiatrist told me the appointment after I got diagnosed with Asperger’s that bipolar disorder and Asperger’s is one of the most difficult combination of disorders to treat. He didn’t explain much after that, but after some research I found out why. Asperger’s and bipolar have many overlapping features. People with Asperger’s can have suicidal ideation, anxiety, and poor social functioning amongst other symptoms. This can lead to diagnoses of schizophrenia, anxiety, or bipolar. I live with Asperger’s, but bipolar is in the mix as well. My doctor often says my problems are caused by my bipolar. He has never said that I am having problems with my Asperger’s. I believe he is untrained in the autism field, but he is often right about what mood state I am in. I’m not sure myself if it is my bipolar disorder or Asperger’s causing the problem.

 

Bipolar can start out in childhood along with Asperger’s, and it often comes out with other disorders, sometimes misdiagnosed. I have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, OCD, borderline personality disorder, childhood schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder. These were all taken away at some point and were replaced with Bipolar 1 (mania and depression, as opposed to hypomania and depression which is bipolar 2) and Asperger’s. Schizoaffective disorder, which is basically schizophrenia and bipolar together, was the reason I was asked to get tested for Asperger’s due to the same features, such as poor social skills and other symptoms they share.  After I got diagnosed with Asperger’s, I was told to watch out for Schizophrenia as I age, but bipolar has stayed. The many diagnoses came from the two being so hard to diagnose, especially together.

Another symptom that is often misinterpreted between bipolar and Asperger’s is thoughts of grandiosity and unusual thoughts. In bipolar, grandiosity is the thought that one is superior and can do anything, such as write the Great American Novel in two weeks. People with Asperger’s might believe they can be liked by everyone or make everyone stop being mean to them. These are not grandiose, but can be seen as extreme thoughts.

Sensory issues can also come with the two. Asperger’s is known for this symptom, but during a manic episode, the senses can be heightened. Light and loud sounds can be difficult. Even a light touch can set someone, either bipolar, Asperger’s, or both off. I experience this mainly because of Asperger’s, but it is very clear that it is worse during mania and meltdowns occur much more often.

This was not found in my research, but I believe that both mania and depression have things in common with Asperger’s.  For mania, a person might obsess over their ideas more. Our minds race more both in mania and Asperger’s. Asperger’s tends to contain obsessions that take up life. A person in mania will also obsess, but it can go to a dangerous level and lead to dangerous activities. Both hyperfocus on one or a couple of things. In comparison, depression and Asperger’s have lack of social skills and lack of concentration, I have an extremely hard time concentrating all the time, but when depression hits, I know I will in no way be able to concentrate.

As I did research, I realized why it is hard for doctors to diagnose and treat both Asperger’s and bipolar. I have a hard time figuring out the differences myself, and I’m living the symptoms. Hopefully doctors start having an easier time so patients can get the proper treatment. I’m still hoping for the proper treatment. Bipolar and Asperger’s are tough to treat, but they are also hard to beat. Dealing with it is tough, but with proper medical care, hopefully relief will be found soon.

https://cpementalhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1745-0179-4-2

 

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/major-depression
https://www.semel.ucla.edu/champ/blog/dmiklowitzuclaedu/mania-vs-aspergers

Yes, Asperger’s Is Hard

Asperger’s is deeply misunderstood. While it is on the autism spectrum, it is not like classic autism. People with it don’t show severe symptoms and it is not always visible to untrained persons. However, it is a real disorder.

I am one of many people who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome. A lot of cases are not diagnosed until later in life because it is not as obvious to professionals or families. Sometimes it’s not even visible to the person themselves. I knew I had some quirks, but wasn’t sure if I had Asperger’s.

Asperger’s and being quirky are not the same thing. Many people think that really smart people, or people who don’t talk to others, are the people who have Asperger’s. I’m here to tell you that it is way more than that.

Asperger’s is looking at someone’s forehead or just looking down to avoid eye contact.

Asperger’s is melting down in an ice cream shop due to loud sounds, strong smells, and too many people.

Asperger’s is wearing headphones into a store and turning the music up louder when you hear thunder roll.

Asperger’s is being told “It’s a joke!” over and over and still not catching on.

Asperger’s is freaking out because you were told to get some place at four o’clock but arriving at 4:01.

Asperger’s is falling so deep into an obsession that you can’t think of anything else and most everything you say is about said obsession.

Asperger’s is thinking someone is mad at you, but they are really just resting their face.

You might think “Wow! It must be awful to deal with that.” My answer to that is, yes, it can be awful, but not all the time. Sometimes Asperger’s leads me to be more insightful of  small details. It gets me to be more than punctual EVERYWHERE I go, unless I have someone poking behind. It’s having a passion and being active in your life. It can even mean that you are above average in intelligence.

Yes, Asperger’s is hard, but everyone has a struggle. We are all different, and while Asperger’s makes some things harder, it also can make life better.

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I’m A Stressed Out Mess (Night Before)

Body full of stress

Hidden behind best dressed

Know I will pass the test

I don’t know what comes next

 

Interview to choose who wins

The wait before filled with suspense

I’m waiting for tonight to end

So I can worry once again

 

Practiced until I understood

What not to say and what I could

What not to mention and what I should

What wouldn’t help me and what would

 

Tomorrow afternoon the test will be on

Need to focus or my chance will be gone

Mind can’t wander, or my answers will be wrong

Hopefully it isn’t very long

 

Sitting still for long makes me scared

Eye contact means forehead stares

Rubbing lips is okay, but not in there

It is me, but I don’t have to share

 

I know how to answer what they ask

I’m able to do every task

I need to take off my nervous mask

Replace it with a smile and a hearty laugh

 

I might not get it, but least I tried

First interviews are part of life

I need to realize that I am fine

No matter if the position is not mine

 

Stressed Out- twenty one pilots

I Submitted To My Senses

I hate Asperger’s

 

I hate the way it makes me socially incompetent

 

I hate the way I shake my legs and wring my hands just so some of the anxiety will go away

 

I hate how I bug people with my constant talk abou the same things over and over again. They won’t admit it, but I know they are bothered.

 

I hate the other night:

 

I was at my sister’s school concert. I love those things. Getting to see my sister sing and enjoy herself is my favorite thing on this planet. I don’t get to see it often, because she is always

downstair while I am up. I was preparing for a marvelous time when…

 

The doors slammed. Every single time the door opened. It would slam as loud as it possibly could.

 

This was not once. Or 10 times. It was probably around 75 times the door decided it was going to use all of it’s power. It seemed like it was just trying to bother me.

 

I sat through the concert. There were bright lights and cameras flashing and I could barely focus unless I shook my legs or wrung my hands.

 

After the concert, there was an old lady wearing at least one, maybe two bottles of perfume. I mean, you could smell her from across the room. Well, at least I could.

 

All of this made me very very anxious. I covered my ears with the door. I looked away from the lights. I held my breath. It all helped a little, but my body was already in overload mode. It was not a visible one to others, but I felt it in my body. Panicky, sick, everything felt like it was ending.

 

I have shared another person’s experience, but this was mine.

 

I said I hate Asperger’s in the beginning. This isn’t completely true. It is part of who I am, and I can’t change it. I don’t WANT to change it. I am me. I might hate what comes along with it, but I can get through those things. Asperger’s is not the enemy. I am, but I can change that by fully believing I am okay the way I am.

I

 

Anxiety Lives On (For Now): Panic Disorder

The third installment in the Anxiety Lives On (For Now) series:

This is for all of you who breathe in and out and in and out. This is for all of you whose minds take off on a journey down Fast Avenue. This is for all of you who don’t know when it’s going to happen again and live in fear of it. This is for all of you with Panic Disorder.

 

Listen to this from Megan at https://mentalmetanoia.wordpress.com/

 

“I didn’t understand what was going on with my body.The first time it happened, I was at home and in a split second I went from being calm to feeling like I was having a heart attack. It was extremely scary because I didn’t understand it. It almost feels like your heart is going to burst out of your chest. It’s a sensation that makes you feel like it won’t go away. Once, it’s over, you feel exhausted, drained, and in my situation I felt embarrassed. I went to the doctors after that and was diagnosed with a Panic Disorder and was given meds that I take when I feel like one is coming on. I experience them from time to time and each time I have one, it feels like I’m dying. My heart races, pulse soars, palms get sweaty, and I lose control. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Now, when I have them I am able to control them. But still, that doesn’t make me feel better about having them. I would wish them on no one because it is one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced”

 

See this? This is what a panic attack is. It is the feeling of death. It is the exhaustion. It is the crippling fear.

 

Signs of Panic Disorder (with some help from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/panic-disorder/index.shtml )

 

Sudden attacks of fear

 

Feeling of loss of control

 

Intense worry about when the next attack will happen

 

Avoidance or fear of a place where a panic attack had happened before

 

Pounding heart, weakness, trouble breathing, and other physical symptoms

 

—————————–

 

If you have panic attacks, know that you are not alone. Know that when people joke around and say “Oh my god, I seriously just had a panic attack”, when all that happened was they gasped, you’re disorder is not any less valid. Panic attacks ARE hard. Everybody, including myself, that struggles with attacks know that it is VERY real.

 

If you don’t experience panic attacks, don’t make fun of someone who does. Don’t tell them that it is “all in their head”. It is not. Panic attacks affect the entire body, head to toe. Instead, help the person. Ask them what they need. If they don’t feel like talking, don’t talk to them. If they want to be alone, let the be alone, unless they are a danger to themselves.
Take care of yourself first in a panic attack situation. Things will be alright. You are safe. You are loved, even if it’s only by me (it isn’t). You are strong and can make it through. Good luck, my friends.

Anxiety Lives On (For Now): Me + Tips

The second installment in our series on anxiety, Anxiety Lives On (For Now)

I am sosososososososososoooo anxious. This is a fact I’ve known since I was eight years old.  I remember being afraid to go down the firepole on the school playground. It made my eyes fill up with tears every time someone asked why I wasn’t doing it. The fact is, I considered going down every time. I even WANTED to go down. I just couldn’t get up the nerve to do it.

Anxiety has kept me from doing many things I wanted to do. I hardly ever stay home alone. There are robbers,murderers,  and wild animals out there. I don’t want to get involved in any of that mess.

I also don’t drive. I have only been behind the wheel twice, and I freaked out both times. It’s awful not being able to take myself places, but I also feel safe.

Anxiety makes my stomach churn my heart race, my heart pound, and it makes it hard to breathe. It is not a good feeling. You feel like you are going to throw up, pass out, and die all at once,

Not doing things that worry me makes me feel safe. Unfortunately, safe is not always what we should go for. It is important to go out of your comfort zone every now and then.

I shouldn’t be saying that. I don’t listen to it. My own advice doesn’t really help me. It should. It really should. Going out and talking to people is a good way to get more comfortable. I know that. I just don’t do it. I hopefully will. I stayed home with my little sister TWO times the other day. This is a big deal. I hate making phone calls as well, Check out my blog on this subject here: Me? Use The Phone? No…

However, I will give you some advice that I do or would follow

Take deep breaths.

Use the guided meditation below:

 

 

Do what you enjoy: Cook a delicious meal, sing your favorite song, go out for ice cream,  whatever makes you feel relaxed

 

Go to therapy

 

Get a prescription for medication

 

Write about it! (If you ever have a writing you want to share, comment on a post with your email or Twitter, and I will share it)

 

Whatever you do to not be anxious, make sure it is safe, kind to yourself, and enjoyable. Anxiety does not go away easily, but with a little help from yourself, therapy, and medicine, you can do it!

 

Me? Use The Phone? No…

When my telephone rings, I jump and wonder if I should actually answer. The answering machine is my biggest friend, even though I eventually have to talk to a real person. Talking to people on the phone makes me want to throw up and pass out at the same time. I’d probably drown in my vomit, but at least it would get me out of phone calls (do not take me seriously as death by vomit would probably be an awful way to go). If you get my drift, you realize that I absolutely hate making and taking phone calls.

 

Ever since I was a young child, I have been terrified of the phone. Now, texts are always my go to option. This is all because of the social anxiety that comes with Asperger’s. Just the other day, my father asked me to make a phone call to my doctor. I sort of freaked out and said no. He called for me. I always freak out when someone asks me to make a phone call. It is just too scay of an idea for me to handle.

 

I really should learn how to talk on the phone like a person. Once I’m on the phone, I’m typically fine, but the act of actually picking up the phone and dialing is a huge fear of mine. I am the most anxious person I know, besides maybe my grandmother. Being forced to make a phone call doesn’t feel good, but I have to do it. Someday, when I have a job, I need to be able to pick up the phone.

 

Here are a few things I do before I make a phone call:

 

Breathe. I mean it. Deep breathe until you are feeling calmer. A therapist once told me that it is impossible to panic while deep breathing

 

Double check the number. Or triple check if you have to

 

Know the name of the person you are talking tom unless it is a doctor’s office or something. Then know the information you need to tell them.

 

Have a pen and piece of paper beside you. You never know what you need to write down.
These things seem to help me when I need to make an important phone call. I hope they help you have an easier, more positive phone experience. So while I hate them, I need to do them, so I will. Eventually.