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.”
“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