I am not here to help you question your ADHD or bipolar disorder diagnosis. I am certainly not a doctor & I am simply here to share my own experiences & musings on this topic. However…
Everywhere I look on social media these days, it seems there is someone new revealing an ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) diagnosis that had previously gone undiagnosed. I am glad the diagnosis is coming as a relief. I understand how a label like that can be comforting. But, as someone living with bipolar disorder, I wonder how often there is confusion deciphering differences between ADHD or bipolar disorder or other mental illness symptoms.
I watch these videos & read these posts that vividly describe some things I suffer through with bipolar disorder. Yet, the poster is describing their experience with ADHD. It's an odd feeling to feel simultaneously validated & ostracized at the same time. Admittedly, it's through no fault of the people sharing their experiences. But, that is what I feel every time I come across such a post.
I know I can't be the only one.
So, I am deciding to vent about it. Here. Why not? Once per month, approximately on the second Thursday, I am going to ask, “ADHD or bipolar disorder?”
I will discuss yet another symptom or sign of ADHD — that I have with bipolar disorder. And, if you are someone who can relate to the symptom but not the ADHD diagnosis (OR the diagnosis but not the symptom?), you have a place to come to commiserate. Ha!
ADHD or bipolar disorder?
Honestly, I am not making any diagnoses here. I am speaking about my experiences. So, please, seek the care of your primary care provider or psychiatrist to determine your diagnosis if you have one. Or don't. There's a time & a place for just… NOT.
But, the next time someone tells me about their executive dysfunction attached to their ADHD diagnosis, I don't want to sit & feel awkward about MY executive dysfunction that looks a lot different because of bipolar disorder.
ADHD is largely an ailment of the connection between behavior & attitude.
Those who have ADHD can be avid daydreamers, have a hard time completing tasks, & get disrupted or distracted easily. They might have trouble sitting still & complain of having all kinds of thoughts always floating through their brain.
With ADHD, the symptoms are fairly constant. There's no cycling between moods abnormally. Moods are relatively unaffected.
Bipolar disorder is an ailment of moods.
Those with bipolar disorder can also be avid daydreamers, have a hard time completing tasks, & get disrupted or distracted easily. And they might have trouble sitting still when they are in a manic (higher, uninhibited mood) episode. The thoughts can simultaneously swirl in the head of someone with bipolar disorder, too. But, for those with bipolar disorder, those symptoms aren't consistent as it is with ADHD. With bipolar disorder, the tradeoff is that moods will cycle from depressive lows to those manic highs. And depression & mania presents different for everyone.
It doesn't matter if it's ADHD or bipolar disorder; neither has a cure.
ADHD or bipolar disorder? Both are constant; for bipolar disorder, it is a cycle between two moods, though. Both can require medication for any kind of relief or harmony with day-to-day life. It depends on who you ask as to the urgency of said medication, though.
Have I confused you yet? There are A LOT of overlaps. And, I'd imagine the overlaps are present with other mental health ailments too.