510: Bipolar or Aspergers?

Sometimes people on the spectrum have a co-morbid diagnosis of bipolar. In other words experts inform a person with ASD that he or she has both bipolar disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. While in some cases this is likely true and substantiated by symptoms and behaviors, in other instances people on the spectrum receive an inaccurate bipolar diagnosis. Often a ‘rapid-cycling’ version is diagnosed. I won’t pretend to be an expert about bipolar because I am not, and I don’t experience the condition myself, but I can abstract the differences between Aspergers and bipolar based on some readings and interactions with people with rapid cycling and/or manic/depressive episodes.

For me, there are some distinct differences between bipolar and ASD.

(The rest of this post is available in the book Everyday Aspergers.)

Sam’s book Everyday Aspergers is now available internationally on Amazon.

More information can be found at her company: myspectrumsuite.com

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58 thoughts on “510: Bipolar or Aspergers?

  1. I have been dx’d with bipolar for years, and know that I am truly Aspie with the two halves you describe. But being 50+ yrs old, I’ve learned to act normally enough that the “professionals” don’t see the ASD, they only see the bipolar results. Oh well. I know what I am. 🙂 Good post. Thanks for writing it.

  2. “I can predict, analyze, and understand my emotional states. I am aware of how I feel, not some of the time, but all the time. I can watch myself get happy, and I can step back and analyze the direct reason”
    an this:
    “I have two halves: the one who can do a lot in a short amount of time and the one that is immobile. ”

    – I have the same! One day i have energy to do everything and the other day I cant even wash or something. Being with people is exhausting for me. I can feel emotions of other people, i know what they want to say, and its so hard for me to be around people, even family

    1. OMG!! I thought I was the only one that could feel other people’s emotions!! It’s like the neatest form of communication but you are right, def emotionally and physically draining. If you have Facebook you should add me, I am always looking for more Aspie friends!!

      Gretchen Hager

  3. very well written!! that really helps me. I love the way you were able to word the ‘two ways you were given to live: one as a creative entity and one as the creative entity on pause’. that is so well put!!! I always say that I am not depressed (as I also know how it feels to BE depressed) but I am simply EXHAUSTED, on total overload and need time to process and digest and clear etc. this takes as long as it takes…its like my computer in stalling mode…if I get impatient and keep pressing the bottons…it will simply stall more and take longer to refresh….

  4. Thank you so much for putting my life into words. Everything you said describes my processes. I appreciate you taking the time to put words to our experiences. This is a great tool to share with my beloveds as they work to better understand me. ❤

  5. Wow that is great – what an apt description and so well written. I am not clever with putting things into words, so I appreciate this, it is just like I am, how I do things too 🙂

  6. Yes, the two of me. Thank you for putting it out there, I don’t feel alone in this..I am as we speak, a prolonged ‘creative entity on pause’ I just hate it. Waiting for the idea to jump into my mind, I know it’s there, it always is.

  7. May I ask a question? Do we see colors differently? I’m in the middle of decorating my new dream office, of which I have waited 14 years, and I’m having an aspie fit!!

    Regards, Shelly Schiffmacher MHR, LPC, BCP, DAPA Licensed Professional Counselor Always Solutions Counseling Services, LLC 918-352-1081

    If you’re on LinkedIn, click here to connect with me.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. you can connect with me through the Facebook link on the left, from there you can private message and get my private Facebook. I think some people feel and sense colors differently, even taste… so yes 🙂 and they might change based on mood or time period in life

  8. My son started exhibiting symptoms of several things at age 4. He was originally DX’d with odd and ADHD, then they added depression and anxiety and then mood disorder NOS. The Dr said she believed it was bipolar but he was too young so they gave mood disorder not otherwise specified. I didn’t believe it. I researched and researched it. What I always told them was that he had a reason for his meltdowns, whether or not they made sense to us there was always a reason. A change or sensory issue or something. I wats added that unlike children with bipolar that rage for hours and hours my sons meltdowns usually lasted about 30 min. When he was 9 I presented the dr with Aspergers and told her my son isn’t bipolar, he has Asperger’s syndrome. He is a classic case and she recognized it immediately. The symptoms are often overlapping in both DX. It is not uncommon at all for a child to be misdiagnosed with bipolar when the really are Asperger’s syndrome. Which may I mention is now null and void and considered autism spectrum disorder. In the late 80’s and 90’s just about every child brought in was DX’d with bipolar. Now Dr’s are recognizing that there is more than one syndrome affecting today’s youth. I can only say thank God for it. Even though symptoms maybe identical between the two DX, on close examination you can tell the difference. Many children are first DX’d with odd, ADHD, OCD, depression, anxiety, etc Aspergers is an umbrella where most of these may appear. I find Dr’s tend to look at the oh today mom and dad are bringing child in for this so it must be x instead at looking at the entire picture. My son is classic Aspergers, getting his correct DX has made a world of difference for us. Even though it took 5 years to get the correct one.

    1. So interesting. I have been dx as ADHD, anxiety and depression. At one point they suspected bipolar, but ruled it out. There are also definitely sensory issues and elements of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Since I’ve been reading this blog, I’ve been like “OMG! I’ve found my twin sister!! Maybe it’s really Asperger’s!”

      Your comment reinforces that suspicion. And my whole world is starting to make even more sense…just 44 short years later. lol.

    2. Hello I just came across this and I can’t help but realize this is exactly what I am going through now w my daughter who is now 10, I’ve suggested the aspergers and all the reasoning and they still are saying bipolar. Your descriptions are my daughter to a T. Beginning I thought it was just toddler stages but as she turned 7 then 8 year after year I realized more and more that there was more to it only to be diagnoses w odd anxiety and mood disorder (phyc says because she’s to young to diagnose bipolar). Any suggestions or help, just someone to talk to I’d appreciate it, email at AbnerHomeSchool@outlook.Com ……… thank you…..Jennifer

  9. i have always related to my bipolar friend a lot because we are so similar but I always knew when anyone in the medical community thought I was, that my Aspieness just went through similar cycles. You explained this aptly. I also helped a dear friend who was diagnosed “bipolar” but the meds were not working, she was upset and crying all the time, and did not find it fully explained her…I saw her as an Aspie, casually sent her the Aspergirls book by Rudy Simone and asked her to see if she could relate…she was astounded. Fast forward 2 years later and she has her official diagnosis ( she had hers before mine!) She finally fits into the world with her own understanding, she is no longer on the meds but takes some things for anxiety, she is no longer consistently depressed and wondering what is “wrong with her”. Now she has confidence, is getting her masters degree and has a therapist for her aspie conundrums….it is too bad most of those who are misdiagnosed do not find this path…

  10. This was so well explained that I felt for the first time that I might be able to pass something on to someone and say “read this” and they might then know what makes me tick. More than that it helped me see more of my own self with yet a softer gaze. Learning to accept the parts of me that I used to judge more harshly has been instrumental in bringing more harmony to my life as I learn to work better with the particular qualities of having Asperger’s. Thank you again for another brilliant column!

  11. “From an outsider, it would seem we have extreme mood swings, but inside, at least in my experience, the moods don’t seem that extreme. And, as stated before, I don’t just become happy or sad, there is always an exact event or experience externally or internally I can pinpoint as a trigger.”

    Hi, I am someone who has both aspergers and bipolar and also am trained as a psychologist and working as a mental health nurse until recently (also have qualifications in neuroscience). So I think I have the knowledge and experience to weigh in.

    I think it is a stereotype that all people with bipolar have extreme mood swings when in fact it’s quite the opposite. Episodes are not usually sudden, but rather slowly build up to being extreme. A lot of people mix up bipolar rapid cycling (which is simply having 3+ episodes in year which is not sudden and doesn’t always have to be “extreme” either), with borderline personality disorder (which some people like to call ultrarapid cycling bipolar which doesn’t actually exist, to avoid the stigma) which is characterised by frequent, sudden, extreme mood swings. With bipolar, people don’t usually “swing” unless it is medication induced. Usually they get stuck in a mood for a long period (weeks, months or even years if unlucky enough or untreated).

    And while bipolar is biological, most sufferers when they become well, can usually pinpoint a trigger – a job loss, a death, a change in circumstances etc.

    As someone with both bipolar and aspergers, I can pinpoint the trigger for every single one of my episodes of depression, mania and hypomania. It’s actually quite linked to my aspergers. My aspergers means I don’t cope with change well. Whether that change be physical or mental. My only full blown manic episode was triggered by getting married. My two most serious depressive episodes were triggered by pregnancy. My next two most serious episodes were triggered by the stress of studying senior at school two decades ago, and moving interstate two years ago. My aspergers means I struggle to adjust to major changes, but the seriousness of my episodes went far beyond aspergers and were full blown, very severe, very long bipolar episodes that needed high doses of combinations of medications to treat.

    Bipolar is not 100% biological. It is the combination of biological and environment that leads people to have episodes. Some people with bipolar can’t always identify their own triggers, but when they look into it, and/or others close to them are asked, nearly always the trigger can be found.

    Even at my most depressed or most manic, my thoughts are rational too and I do not feel or act grandiose (not everyone with bipolar is irrational or has episodes of grandiosity – these are possible but not necessary symptoms of the condition) and for anyone who truly knows me, I am the most boringly predictable person there is – I only appear unpredictable to those who don’t know me.

    To be honest, I don’t think bipolar and aspergers are all that similar at all – other than the fact that sadly so many people with aspergers are prone to major depressive episodes and some of those have bipolar. I think the confusion arises from the misunderstanding that general society has about bipolar disorder’s symptoms. A lot of people (including some professionals) mix up the long mood episodes of bipolar with the sudden mood swings of BPD, and as mentioned, some professionals will tell their patients they have “ultrarapid cycling bipolar” because of the stigma unfairly surrounding BPD. There is a lot of misdiagnosis (both ways) between bipolar II and borderline PD, and a lot of misdiagnosis between borderline PD and aspergers (usually women with aspergers getting wrongly diagnosed with BPD because of meltodowns and apparently mood swings).

    There are some very major obvious differences between bipolar and aspergers, but they aren’t actually the differences most people think.

    1. wonderful information, thank you. I have read books on bipolar and blogs about it as well. There are so many grey areas where one crosses over into the other. I actually wonder if bi-polar exists…. so many other factors. Everything is a manmade name after all. I really appreciate your eloquent insights. 🙂

    2. I have bipolar disorder which started quite young and was rapid cycling in that I’d have many many episodes in a year. I had difficulty getting a diagnosis to begin with because of the assumption that there is “no such thing as ultra-rapid cycling” but that was what I was experiencing. I’d have a month of depression followed by weeks of mania (complete with grandiose thoughts and delusions) then back to depression. But my experiences were ignored because “it doesn’t happen”. I’ve discussed BPD with my doctors and they don’t think it matches. But until recently what I experienced when I rapid cycled was ignored. As a result I was initially diagnosed with straight depression and prescribed SSRIs. What initially was a fortnightly/monthly change in moods (already far more rapid than the current 4+ a year definition) became every day. It was hellish. I went from one day being so manic that I believed I could fly and so tried to fly out of the (luckily closed) 2nd story window or on other occasions spending all the money I had, to the next day being a depressed mess. It was hellish. It took that though for the doctors to listen to me about my mania and even then they only wanted to diagnose me with cyclothymia (despite me suffering psychosis when manic) as what I was experiencing was just too rapid so they assumed it couldn’t have been as severe. So instead pretended it couldn’t be happening because a book said so. All noted that I was definitely exhibiting that rapid a change of moods but didn’t want to call it what it was because it wasn’t in the book. So I had to suffer through it feeling terribly invalidated. It doesn’t matter how many times I was told that my condition didn’t exist (supossedly) I still had to experience it!!

      Luckily for me my mood swings have slowed down more recently and I have been displaying a typical enough pattern to be taken seriously. I have a formal diagnosis of bipolar disorder and now receive talking therapy to help me cope. Strangely, I’m getting more help now that I am at my most stable (6 months of one mood feels far better than changing every 2 weeks/every month). Because its more consistent its easier to cope with and I don’t get as many occasions of feeling like I actually have to kill myself (though suicidal thoughts have been a constant for me since the age of 4). Its actually really upsetting to only now be getting the help I desperately sought but was turned away from when I was at my most vulnerable. I very easily could have ended up dead. My suicide attempt failed but was very real and could have turned out very differently. 6 months of mania (with a few mixed episodes which are VERY different from rapid cycling of any speed) have felt like a dream compared with what I used to experience. But because of the upheaval caused by the ultra-rapid cycling, I don’t know how to anything any more. I don’t know how to adult and I’m too old to child. The relative stability is more pleasant but still feels alien to me as I’d been used to not knowing how my mood would be from one day to the next. So it comes with its own kind of challenge.

      I feel the mental health professionals failed me when I needed them the most because they were more comfortable ignoring what was in front of their eyes than what was written in a book. Ultra-rapid cycling does exist and is tortuous. It doesn’t go away just because you want to imagine it doesn’t exist. Invalidating peoples experiences just makes things worse. I really hope for your patients who come to you describing their rapid cycling that you read this and maybe try believing them and helping them. Please don’t ignore it or misdiagnose it because it doesn’t look typical. If they are experiencing the symptoms they are still experiencing them even if only for repeated short bursts. Having spoken with a couple of friends with actual BPD they say it doesn’t feel at all like how I described my rapid cycling. So if you just say its BPD and poor coping skills (since it works very differently to bipolar on a chemical level) you are failing someone who might do quite well on lithium for example. Please don’t fail these people. They need your help!

      1. I am sure your words will help someone. I am glad you are receiving help now. Thank you for sharing a part of your trials and story. All the best to you

    3. my older brother has bipolar and was always super smart, I noticed he was too smart when I was in 3rd grade, his mind worked better then adults, my parents said no video games b/c he wasn’t doing his school work and I knew something wasn’t right I asked him what the problem was and he started to cry which was weriod b/c he was a mini adult, he never cried. I went to the school in 3rd grade and told them something was wrong, I knew something was wrong, I knew they knew and I knew they weren’t going to do anything about it. infact they told me if he didn’t want to do the work he would end up in jail, that’s when I started throwing around the pastors wife’s name. we grew up in church, my brother was awesome he knew all the answers w/o even doing the work, he was a mini genius who were they to threaten him with jail? is what I asked my sunday school teacher. during this time my about 3 yr old lil brother seemed atypical as well. he threw massive temper tantrums and once I heard him crying and he sounded retarded(excuse my language) I knew he wasn’t retarded. he didn’t do well at school at all, he didn’t appear to be a genius, he appeared dumb, in his early 30’s he was told he had bipolar, my older brother was about 16 when he was told he had bipolar. I always thought of myself as normal, I wasn’t a genius and I wasn’t dumb. my 1st daughter appears perfect, 13 yrs old just took the ACT test, getting highschool alegra credits in 7th grade, presidents education award, straight A’s gifted n talented, truly the perfect child, weriod she is just as smart as my older brother however works every bit up to potential and then some. my 2nd child has a list of problems a mile long including ADHD, Bipolar & OCD, she is almost 12 yrs old, school has been horrible, they smacked her desk, silent lunches, marched in a circle for recees, all for not paying attention and being able to do the work. I had to fight to get the bipolar dx, school insisted it was A BEHAVIOR PROBLEM as she was intelligent with a border line low IQ. she has binocular vision disorder and auditory processing disorder that are directly related to her bipolar is what the 2nd neuro psychologist had to say(yes it took 2 of them to get anyone to listen). mind you I still had to fight the psychariast to get bipolar meds. interesting my younger brother (whose bipolar seems identical to my daughter’s) has two son’s with different mom’s, both kid’s have aspergers and ADHD, IQ’s off the charts, one is 21 and is a very proud geek, the other is 10 and appears to have more social skills problems and talks using really big words or just different words then typical peers.(cute kid I like him) i’m pretty sure my dad, my oldest and me do not have biplar and never will, we do not have binocular vision or auditory processing problems. somehow my oldest daughter still got the bipolar smarts w/o the mood or social skill problems. don’t ever let anyone (could be less intelligent then you or less then holier then you) ever tell you your less then someone else b/c you have bipolar. it’s just not so, my bipolar family is cool. I knew as a child where the smart gene was coming from, my grandfather. I met him one time in 3rd or 4th grade and I knew my older brother got his smarts from him. he even told me he was sick but wasn’t dying, he was the only one who wanted to listen to me say something was wrong with my brothers. they did seem normal at home so I could see why my parents couldn’t see it. they seemed normal b/c they are normal just like everyone else in the world. I knew my lil brother wasn’t retarded but I knew something wasn’t right. I have just informed state owned mental health care to tell the school district the belt is not the answer.schools targets these kids thinking they can punish the mental illness out of them. how do they figure disclipine will fix a central nervous system disorder? a neurological problem? really plz do tell how they come to that conclusion
      ? (who is really the less then intelligent one here?) I’ve seen multiple schools discrimate in MD and SC.

  12. I havn’t had my formal diagnosis finished yet. I have never related to something so much as I have your writings. I read Aspergers Traits for women and cried the whole time. Oh my gosh!! there are people out there who think and feel like I do??? I have felt so misunderstood for such a long time. You have done an excellent job in putting your thoughts into written word. I most often cannot explain to people what is going on in my head. I am sure they think I just like to complain and stay stuck. Thanks once again.

  13. So glad to find your website! My daughter is almost 11 and in her first year of middle school. For quite awhile her emotions have gone from excited and happy to down and depressed in a nano second! It makes my head spin. I never know how long a good mood is going to last. Here lately this has increased. She is having a very difficult time with jealousy; over friends, circumstances, etc. My main worry is with friends right now. She sees more into a situation then their actually is and she doesn’t understand why her popular friend can get such positive attention and reactions when she receives the opposite. I know some of this is typical middle school issues but this has gone on for quite some time. She sees others as bragging, having it better then her, out to exclude her and make her miserable. I really don’t know how to help her see the big picture; how to be happy when good things happen to her friends and how to control her reactions. Im afraid she’s going to alienate a lot of really good friends if she keeps this up. Im worried for her and I dont feel that any advice Im giving her is being received in the right way. She doesn’t share these things with me. She writes them down and on occasion I read them to see what is going on in her sweet little head. I see a pattern forming that is creating a lot of tension and anxiety in her sweet little soul. I just dont know what to do. any advice would be a blessing!

    1. I understand. I hated school after I was a teenager. I didn’t understand so much, and still don’t. I pulled my son with Aspergers out of school and homeschooled him and this helped him 100%. However I know that is not an option for everyone. Writing is an excellent outlet. That you care and have an interest is huge. Some mothers share this blog with their daughters. There is also a large community of Aspies on Facebook on my Everyday Aspergers page. See link to the left. I could ask a question there if you wish. She will be okay with love and understanding. Anything you can do with supplements and nutrition will help B vitamins, fish oil, folate, magnesium… I drink coconut water. Also minerals found in pink salt. (Of course seek a doctor’s guidance and advice as I am not a medical professional) Advice won’t help. Let me find a link for you.

  14. I too was diagnosed as having bipolar 2, but found out on my own that I am an Aspie. I see myself in your well written post, “I have two halves: the one who can do a lot in a short amount of time and the one that is immobile. ” How true that is of me! Also i know what triggers a happy smile, my 3 dogs make me smile daily without fail. But, people and their attitudes saddens me just as much as my dogs lift me up. Angery tones of voice cause me to run for cover ‘ in my dark isolated barn’, a literal barn. I hide in here on a daily basis which has been for the most of last year and is now bleeding over into 2015. I am so… very tired and have no energy to spare.

  15. I understand this is an old post, but I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. I was misdiagnosed Bipolar in 2003, at the age of 22, and have suffered through hell as a result of psychiatrists being ignorant of what the real issue was (being Asperger’s), and dosing me with antipsychotics that did a real number on my mind, body, and nervous system. I’ve only recently found out I have High Functioning Asperger’s. With some training and awareness, psychiatrists should have been able to see that in me. I’m quite skeptical about psychiatric diagnoses in general, and believe the co-mobordity argument actually points to the fact that many Asperger’s folks are just straight-up being misdiagnosed Bipolar, which is nothing short of a tragedy for many of us. I strongly suspect that many people who have been diagnosed Bipolar are in fact Aspies. I feel it’s important to acknowledge the fact that the symptoms-based treatment (as opposed to cause-based treatment) applied in psychiatry stands apart from real medical practices in that, unlike real doctors, psychiatrists typically order no bloodwork tests for their patients, and do little to understand their patients’ particular physiological needs and deficiencies before applying their labels (based on purely subjective reports) and then prescribing neurotoxic drugs. It’s no wonder to me that they effectively removed Asperger’s from the DSMV, as the high functioning Asperger’s that is likely the real issue for so many requires treatments and supports, like CBT and dietary changes, that Big Pharma can’t profit from. I really feel this Asperger’s misdiagnosis issue is a much bigger story than most of us realize.

  16. Hi there

    I am a female with Asperger’s and Bipolar II which is different from Bipolar I. In Bipolar II, the mood swings are often less severe, or polar, so it often goes unrecongnised.

    What very few people realise though, is that for people on the Bipolar spectrum, it’s not just mood that fluctuates and cycles, there’s two other factors as well: intellect (in the bipolar context this refers to creativity/ flight of ideas and the ability to connect ideas) and energy. In all people, these three elements fluctuate, but in people with Bipolar, these elements can become frequently out of sync with each other. When these three elements are riding high (higher than in a neurotypical person) – high mood, high intellect and high energy – the result is hypomania. When they’re all riding low, the result is depression. Agitated depression results when intellect and energy is high but mood is low. See here for a great visual http://psycheducation.org/diagnosis/mixed-states/rapid-cycling-and-mixed-states-as-waves/

    Sometimes I have periods of time where I feel absolutely compelled to create. My energy, motivation and creative urge is so strong I can paint for hours and hours without food, break or sleep. Sometimes this flight of creativity can go on for days. While I love these periods, I’m very aware of what’s happening – I’m hypomanic, it’s not the full blown mania seen in Bipolar I, it’s more contained. What causes it? Sometimes positive life triggers, sometimes shifts in brain chemicals but always the synchronization of high mood, high intellect (creativity/ flight of ideas) and high energy.

    When I’m experiencing hypomania, I try to remain conscious of my altered state. While I allow myself to revel in the period of creative bliss (and happily ignore the mounting housework and forgo sleep) I know full well to keep my purse closed and not to make any big decisions. Things always seem infinitely more achievable, beautiful, colourful and wonderful when I’m hypomanic. The idea of opening up a new online shop, for example, seems like a great idea. The trouble is though, when the increased energy falls away, *maintaining* the new business isn’t quite as easy!

    I have worked with children and adults with Asperger’s for nearly 20 years, and many of them do *not* experience extremes of emotions on a daily or weekly basis. If you do, then you might want to consider whether you *might* also have Biploar II. In the same way your discovery of being on the Asperger’s spectrum brought you enormous self-insight, you might find that exploring Bipolar II will open up a whole new layer of understanding and self-acceptance.

    1. I’ve read this over a couple times. Some things I can say is usually my low moods are low intellect, low creativity and I just want to sleep and rest and am often in physical pain caused by my hyper joint mobility syndrome or I am in a low mood because I perceived something as terrible when it was not (a person’s actions/statements that I take out of proportion) I create but then I stop and sleep, eat, rest. I never cannot sleep. I feel my connections to everything always, they don’t stop if I am low energy, high, creative, non-creative, etc. I am low energy almost all the time and have to push myself to create. My ideas come first not my energy. If that makes sense. I really appreciate the tone of your comment and information. You sound like a lovely person.

      1. Hi Samantha

        I can reeeeally relate to what you’re saying about the fairly constant low energy. Low energy is pretty much my default state of being and it causes me endless disappointment. I had the day off today and even though my mind, likely always, is brimming with creative ideas, projects and desires that I’m simply busting to do, what have I done? Slept. Sadly, this happens soooo frequently and I am berating myself as I type for giving in to the lethargy.

        Often when I have low energy I am forgiving of myself and simply acknowledge and accept that ‘ok, that’s where my body’s at today. I’m disappointed I didn’t achieve anything (practical or creative), but it doesn’t make me a lazy person or a bad person.’ But today I’m not so forgiving because I think a good part of my lethargy was procrastination (another constant in my life and part of the executive dysfunction that frequently accompanies Asperger’s and Bipolar).

        Discovering (through extensive reading) that I had Asperger’s was an absolute revelation, but discovering that I had Bipolar II was equally ground breaking for me in terms of understanding other parts of myself. I have always felt emotions to the extremes (emotions as separate from ‘moods’) and far, far more deeply than people around me. For a long time I believed this hyper-empathy was part of my Asperger’s (I truly believe there is hyper-empathic Asperger’s sub-type), but I also believe it’s part of the Bipolar II as well. It’s well documented that people on the Bipolar spectrum experience life with an intensity of emotion different from neurotypicals.

        I wish Bipolar II was more well documented, especially the wave theory – http://psycheducation.org/diagnosis/mixed-states/rapid-cycling-and-mixed-states-as-waves/ Once you realise ‘gosh, this is why I only function like a normal person one day a month (if I’m lucky!) (and by functioning I’m probably referring to ‘getting things done’), it replaces self-loathing with self-understanding. People run a mile from a bipolar diagnosis, but actually it can be the same gift as an Asperger’s diagnosis because what it brings reasons and understandings for the parts of a person that so rarely function like ‘normal’ people.

        Bipolar II is often referred as soft bipolar. It is indeed softer in terms of the extremes of moods and behaviours, but it can actually be *more* debilitating because typically we have very few periods of normal functioning – in other words where our mood, intellect (ability to connect ideas/ creativity) and energy are at normal levels AND in sync with each other.

        I also have ADHD but it’s hardly worth mentioning because if you have Asperger’s and Bipolar II then ADHD is pretty much a given. Why? Because executive dysfunction, the core feature of ADHD, is almost always present in Bipolar (I and II) as well as Asperger’s (though not always). I very rarely mention the ADHD though because so many people like to roll out their long alphabet of conditions that they start to become badges of honour and kind of lose credibility. If you have Asperger’s you are statistically more likely to have at least one other co-morbid condition than not. And if you have have two conditions you’re statistically more likely to have a third. I think once you have two or more conditions, it’s more healthy to think of yourself in what Kutscher describes as the ‘syndrome mix’ because so many of the features overlap.

        But to totally contradict myself, I still think it’s important to know *which* conditions you have because it gives you information about the ‘what’s’ and ‘why’s’ of your various quirks – the good, the bad and the ugly! The knowledge and information is your biggest weapon against self-hatred and the best way to educate others away from judgement towards understanding. I say this from the perspective of someone in the syndrome mix, a parent of a child in the syndrome mix, a teacher of children in the syndrome mix and someone who works with adults in the syndrome mix.

        For anyone with Asperger’s reading this who feels they live their life in an emotional washing machine, Asperger’s may not be the only cause. Find out about Bipolar II (not just Bipolar I) – a great place to start is here: http://psycheducation.org/ This website has been my godsend – the psychiatrist who runs the site writes with empathy, integrity and extensive knowledge and experience and makes not a cent from it. I don’t know him from a bar of soap (he lives on the other side of the world from me) but I am deeply grateful to him.

        Similarly, if you have a child with Asperger’s (or ADHD) who is extreeeeeeemely difficult, it may not just be Asperger’s. Children with Asperger’s can often have difficult behaviours, very difficult behaviours, but if your child has extremely difficult behaviours he/she *could* have a co-morbid mood disorder.

  17. When I started school I was diagnosed as “gifted but with an emotional and behavioral disorder” when I was 8 years old. In an explanation they described me as emotionally and behaviorally very problematic, emotionally dysregulated (unstable, moody), stubborn, defiant, and stubborn.
    Doctors first wanted to diagnose me with ADD and oppositional defiant disorder when I was about 12 – 14 but luckily didn’t write it down an actual diagnosis, just wrote an opinion they think I have that and that I need counseling and special needs therapy.
    Not a year later I had then officially been diagnosed with both generalized and social anxiety and depression. A year later an autism specialist where the teen psychologist sent me discovered I actually had Asperger’s syndrome and dyspraxia and that no one of those previous diagnoses were true so then doctors ruled them out as inaccurate. Four years later doctors diagnosed me with both bipolar (BD) type 1 and borderline personality disorder (BPD) and I was hospitalized for a month to confirm a diagnosis. They confirmed it and thought I need intensive psychotherapy and medication. After two years all the so called “bipolar and BPD symptoms” miraculously disappeared. Though I still have the two diagnoses, inside of me I know they aren’t true either and that I’m just a normal misunderstood dyspraxic Aspie. Otherwise I would not have been able to accomplish anything while not taking any medication for 5+ years now and I did and have a good, quite normal life. 🙂

  18. I am an only child, homeschooled by a mother who had a mental disorder and a father who didnt. I was diagnosed bipolar nos. Do you think I could have just been so isolated- never had a close friend or such that I may be normal and just reacting.to the way I was raised? Bipolar NOS and a jor depressive disorder is what I was told, and I am on medication like cymbalta, valium, brintellix for it. Thank you.

    1. I am not a professional in the field of psychology or psychiatry and don’t know you, so it’s very hard for me to say. I thank you for your brave comment. If it is important to you, perhaps you can ask your parents to take you to get a second and third opinion from professionals. Best to you.

  19. I just went to look for this one article as it was a key point to my diagnosis and I wanted to show it to a friend to help her, and see I must now buy the book to see it, I would love to buy the book, however feel having this information taken away is really disappointing as it was extremely helpful for many who needed that immediate guidance and help who have ASD. Just this one article.

    1. very little of the 1200 plus pages of this blog were removed. I rewrote this one and explained it much better in the book, and took the original away as it didn’t feel accurate or up to par anymore. The main articles removed were all the stories from my childhood, and unfortunately a couple I didn’t feel were up to par. The Kindle is only $2.99 and I kept it low for others to afford. In addition I gave away 1000s of free copies in the summer. You can join our online community on Facebook that offers lots of information. Best to you.

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