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/


Therapy Dog vs. Service Dog?

Dogs inside the grocery stores? Dogs in the restroom stall next to yours? Some breeds are barely five pounds and others are the same size as humans. Spoiled or abandoned dogs grab our attention and hearts with their dedicated, unconditional love.


“Is your dog working?” has been the most asked question when I am in public with my dog, Zoey. Then they tag on, “May I pet your dog?”

Let me address the first question. If a person is in public with a dog that has a backpack, the dog is working some type of job.

Two of the most common jobs are therapy work and service work. One major difference between the two tasks is that therapy dogs train to show affection to people. Service dogs are taught to attach to one person and are not to ask for affection from other people. That seems simple, “Right?” Except…

When you encounter a hybrid therapy/ service dog, the dog will be a friendly service dog in public. They tend to recognize when people need assistance or a little extra love.


Our favorite volunteer, Mary Lou, at Providence Medical Center.

Zoey the Therapy Dog trained to be a hybrid. She is a veteran of the National Pet Partners’ therapy dog association because she loves people. However, she developed the ability to detect when I am starting to have a stroke. I worked on her scent detection skills during her training sessions as a puppy.

A local dog trainer and my doctors noticed she warned me when my blood pressure elevated. My brain is damaged and does not emit the proper chemicals to keep my blood pressure under control. When Zoey hops on my lap or chest, my breathing can regulate and the proper hormones are released in my brain to lower my blood pressure faster than pharmaceuticals. She even reverses strokes under adverse conditions.

For the most up-to-date information on typical service dogs check out this link.

Assistance Dogs International regulations leave little room for the ambiguity of a hybrid therapy dog/ service dog. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that a service dog needs to perform three necessary jobs for their person with a disability.

All organizations agree that the person with a disability assumes responsibility for any and all damages to businesses their dog enters. The same is true of a therapy dog team.

Service dogs go through yearly recertifications. If the dog has forgotten skills, they are retrained at the chosen facility.  Pet Partners’ therapy teams are assessed for public access every two years. Go to http://www.petpartners.org. if you think your dog would make an excellent therapy dog.