When ADHD Turns Into Bipolar

Johnny sat with his head in his hands. Tears poured down his cheeks. Only twelve years old, he needed alone time where no one watched his emotional breakdown. I listened and watched through a window in the door. A gaping hole in the wall left evidence of Johnny’s intense overreaction only a moment before.

I quietly entered the room as I saw him breathing deeply. “Is there anything I can do to help you?” I asked.

Johnny said, “You can put me out of my misery.”

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“Can you remember what happened that caused you to feel so angry?” I said.

“No,” Johnny said, “I don’t know what happened. I’m just being honest. Am I crazy?”

“Since you’ve been honest with me, I’m going to tell you something that is more adult,” I said.  “I believe your brain is sending the wrong chemicals and hormones through your body. I suspect you were born with a brain that just works differently.”

Later that day, I had a frank conversation with his parents about visiting Johnny’s pediatrician. I shared that some children with a diagnosis of ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) may require a change to their medication when they approach puberty. In this case, I suspected Johnny developed Bipolar Disorder which requires different prescription medication and therapy from a mental health professional. It is easy to misdiagnose a young person with ADHD because the symptoms to Bipolar and ADHD are virtually the same.

However similar, Bipolar morphs when adolescence propels through a young person.

Once Johnny met with a pediatrician who specialized in behavioral therapies, his life turned into a world he could manage. It also helped his parents understand how to work with him.

If you are wondering about a loved one’s mental health, try visiting the following links about Bipolar.  ADHD and Bipolar in Children

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Family Advocating for Family Part 1

While some people are born medical advocates, others may fall into the position by default in their families. Instead of bregrudging the responsibility, it could be your chance to really effect change in the life of your relative. You could make his/her life less complicated. Wouldn’t you like to take away some of the chronic sufferings?

These would be my recommendations for new advocates:                                                                                                                                                                                           pharmacy logo

  1. Keep a separate medical calendar to jot down new symptoms as they occur, medical notes and procedures.
  2.  Always have a current list of doctors (phone numbers) and medications (dosage, frequency included) to take to office visits or an emergency room.
  3. After surgeries, please stay with your family member until after they’ve been escorted to a hospital room. Make certain they’re given the proper medications. This may require you to be forceful with nurses regarding pain management because they don’t take the word of the patient. (An unfortunate by-product of the opioid epidemic crack-down created a problem for people who need the medications temporarily.)
  4. Please help your family member communicate challenges at the facility or with staff.
  5. Ask doctors, pharmacists, and nurses for side-effects of medicine and procedures.
  6. Be involved with the day-to-day inner workings of home therapies, care workers, and medication schedules.
  7. Discuss your loved one’s desires for end-of-life decisions, if they can make those choices.

With many disabling medical conditions, is a loss of cognitive functions i.e. memory, speech, processing information. Your loved one’s life may depend on you becoming the best advocate you can be.

Learn from them before you walk into what feels like a battle. It is an honorable quest that will improve the quality of life of your family member who fights an invisible foe each day 24/7.

This is a national patient advocacy foundation for you to become more knowledgable regarding medical issues. https://www.patientadvocate.org/