Bipolar And Aspergers - How To Spot The Signs
Living with someone who has bipolar can be an exhausting lifestyle. Whether you help them full time or see them a couple of times a week it can be a gauntlet of emotions and sometimes rather like walking through a maze with your eyes closed.
The first thing you have to learn to do is keep your temper. I know this sounds awful, but to speak to someone with bipolar is rather like stepping on the old proverbial eggshells and can very quickly turn into a slanging match.
We are taught to always be caring where mental illness is concerned and its not nice to actually hear someone like me say, 'Well he drives me nuts'. But the facts are there. We are only human and sometimes we have to walk away from the situation.
And does the Doctor always get it right? My personal experience with a family member shows that this may be the wrong diagnosis of bipolar.
So, is it Bipolar or Asperger's?
My Brothers Story.
My brother was born different. That's the only way I can explain it. When I was sitting amongst the mud and dirt of our back garden, he would be inside washing his hands or playing with his toys in a nice warm cozy room.
I would chase my older by a year and a half, brother around the garden and if I smeared dirt on him he would hit the roof. But on the whole he was normal most of the time. Or so I thought from a five year old's point of view.
But when I found an old photo of him with our ancient and formidable aunt Liz, I noticed something rather strange. He was three years old, it was summer, and he was wearing gloves.
The signs were there but I of course didn't know what they meant at the time.
He also never watched the TV without staring sideways as though he was turning his head and looking out of the corner of his eyes. When he had an eye test they proved to be perfect.
More to the point, he never ever looks in my eyes or anybody else.
Over the years, what with looking after our sick parents, and other problems he has got worse.
He had a nervous breakdown in 1992 and had continuous medication for a while after. These days he has Prozac but nothing else.
His behaviour can be totally erratic at times, and hence the arguments.
The Light Suddenly Dawned. Aspergers
Its taken me all these years to realise that actually I think he has more than bipolar.
There are many people on TV or in the general public who have bipolar, but there is more to my brother. I believe that he has undiagnosed Asperger's.
Asperger's is a form of autism. But unlike the full blown autism it sometimes cannot be seen. Its only if you look closely that the signs are there.
- He never looks me in the face or speaks to anybody without looking at the floor.
- He can't interact with anybody or he finds it very difficult.
- He is very intelligent in fact above and beyond the norm.
- He will never phone anybody, I will always do it for him.
- He doesn't know how to make friends, and really doesn't want to.
- He has no interest in other people, or even hobbies or TV.
- He is unable to understand nuances that people may use when speaking or gesturing.
- Very sensitive to light, sound, and taste.
- Bad headaches, but mostly emotional. His words.
- And most importantly, his routine must never change.
- Holding his head when nobody is looking and shifting from one foot to the other.
So what does this mean?
Long story short, if we go out he will always walk on the left side of the pavement nearest to the wall or houses.
His routine must be the same. If it changes in the slightest he will get confused, and sometimes become aggressive.
His house must be spotless, and everything, even in the drawers of cabinets, or cups in the cupboard must be in a certain specific order.
And he hates to be touched.
His OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) can sometimes become so bad he literally gets a terrible headache trying to stop himself from doing the repetitive action.
Mind you, saying that I tend to be like that sometimes too, so it can be a symptom of various mental illnesses.
Sheldon's OCD Syndrome.
Don't Breath On Me.
One of his main phobias is germs. He is scared to death of being breathed on by others.
If we are out shopping and somebody coughs or sneezes he will more or less run to the other end of the shop to escape them.
I understand where he is coming from in this, as I don't want to catch anything either, but his is to excess.
Rather like Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory TV Series on Television, he can be funny when he does this, and bless him he does try to turn it into a joke.
But whenever we get home, he washes his hands for at least 20 minutes.
By staying indoors he feels safe. But because of the lack of exercise by going out only occasionally he has become pale and suffers with many aches and pains.
Can You Tell The Difference Between Bipolar And Asperger's?
Bipolar or Aspergers?
According to the doctor, he is Bipolar. And that's that. They won't listen when I mention the word Aspergers. According to them he should just take his tablets and get on with it.
I do believe he suffers from bipolar. He has had so much stress in his life that something definitely made him mentally worse. And with Asperger's this is not being helped by ignoring it.
His whole life and conversations literally revolve around the word stress, ill, and panic. Even the smallest thing, such as someone turning a tap on in the flat above will cause him to panic because he believes that there will be a leak, which has happened before. But has now been sorted out.
He will latch onto the smallest thing, and make it huge. For example, if he has a rash on his leg, instead of seeing the doctor he will continually talk and worry about it for weeks. But never go and see the doctor.
This is mentally draining for me. I say the same things over and over. I tell him to go and get checked out for the rash, the earache, the headache, and so on. But he never does.
And more to the point, once one illness is over, he will automatically latch onto something else straight away.
For example he recently had a bad back. But I knew when it was better because he 'found' a small sore in his gum. And so on.
To be honest unless the doctors admit that he has Aspergers or something like it, I don't think he will ever change.
My personal opinion is that he has both. Bipolar and Asperger's. The symptoms such as racing thoughts, and irritability sound like bipolar. But the rest, to me, sound much more like Asperger's.
All I do know is that helping him is a full time job, which I willingly do. But it can be exhausting, frustrating and so on.
For anybody going through this I would suggest talking to the Doctor yourself. And getting in touch with the Bipolar and Aspergers Webpage or helpline.
I have recently been in touch with them myself. And so far even talking to them has cleared the way to seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
If you know someone who has been diagnosed with bipolar and they seem to be getting worse, get another check up. Make sure that it is bipolar. I am sure that many cases are undiagnosed Asperger's. And it has been known that people who have thyroid malfunction are actually being told they have bipolar and given the wrong medicine.
For more info, please check out the online helplines for Bipolar and Asperger's.
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