View Full Version : ADD vs. Bipolar.


Bywren
02-13-09, 10:43 PM
Hi again!

You all have given me so much support and info in the few short weeks since I've posted here about my husband. I'm grateful. You've really brought me out of the fog. I just finished "Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD?", in two days flat. Blew me away how much was right on regarding my husband's behavior. Yes, he is totally open now about the ADD he's known about all this time, but now he says he "regrets" ever brining it up, when I casually ask him about it.

But.. my question today regards Bipolar.

Okay, I wrote all about my husband's ADD traits, his quick to anger, defensiveness, negativity, etc., and I wrote about it while he was very much in that mode. A week or so ago, he had a burst of clarity and cleaned the garage out (finally.) And now, he's swung far in the other direction. Like TOO accommodating, cheerful, and easy-going. This is not in response to the ADD talk, because it happened before I found this board and asked him about it. But the odd thing is that my stepdaughter and I have realized its sort of creepy nice -- it doesn't feel right. He had a birthday yesterday and he was like "this is the BEST dessert EVER!" and the "best birthday EVER!", and when he'd normally argue about dinner, he's just like.. "oh, whatever you want is what I want sweetie."

I know that people might be thinking.. "wow, what do you want, lady?" He was grouchy and you complained, and now he's nice and you complain! LOL. It's just that it feels so strange for him to suddenly be mr. super-cooperative, as though the other personality never existed. He gets like that.. for a while you can't look at him without it starting a fight, and then for a few weeks he's high on life. But, not really to the point that I'd say it was mania -- not that dramatic. Of course, he's acting like that, but he's still spending all his time at home in front of the TV or video games alone, and coming to bed 2 hours after I do. But he's just way too cheerful, that it doesn't feel like a genuine connection is being made.

Is this long cycling typical of ADD? Or could it be bipolar? My other stepdaughter, when we discussed this tonight, was floored when she realized how much she is like her father. We've always assumed she was somewhat bipolar and had been diagnosed as such, though now she's thinking it could be PMDD (hormonal), with possible some ADD (total lack of organization, motivation, terrible with $$, etc.) But she has mood cycles where she lies in bed crying for no reason, then is suddenly HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.

I was feeling so very centered now that I learned about all of this, and had at least broken the ice when he told me he did have ADD, but now this new development is confusing me.

So. If you are with a person with AD/HD, or if you have it yourself, can you tell me if you experience these periods of on and off behaviors? Like I said, I wouldn't call this happy mood maniacal, nor his irritable and angry parts depressive. What you you all think?? :confused:

Bywren
02-13-09, 10:57 PM
I tried to edit, and it disappeared. I wanted to add two things. 1) he never seems to believe or remember the things he says or does that are mean when he's in that bad mood cycle (which can last for weeks or even months or days.) 2) he is obsessed with the garage being organized or not organized. It's "his" spot, as he calls it, because he plays music out there. So if it's disorganized or dirty, he gets obsessed with it and will let the house fall down around us, the lawn die, etc., to get the garage together (but will leave it disorganized for quite a while in between.) So, I wonder is he happy because he got the garage finally organized again? Or did he get the garage organized because he's happy again? Is that obsession with clutter and disorganization an ADD thing? His older daughter tells me she is the same way too.. in fact the negative dialogue in her head, calling herself names if she drops something, etc. is all the same.

Crackerjack
02-14-09, 12:22 AM
So. If you are with a person with AD/HD, or if you have it yourself, can you tell me if you experience these periods of on and off behaviors?

Not quite in the way you're talking about. There's been ADDer's I know, including myself at times, who get excited about an idea and that energy carries over to how we act, but not for the time period you're talking about.

In regards to "he never seems to believe or remember the things he says or does that are mean when he's in that bad mood cycle (which can last for weeks or even months or days."

I've experienced that quite a bit with other ADDer's, though it's not an exclusive ADD trait and can be tied in with other co-morbid conditions.

How was your step-daughter diagnosed?

Bywren
02-14-09, 01:02 AM
Hi.
My stepdaughter was diagnosed by a doctor, after seeing a therapist who mistakenly believed it was depression and when the anti-depressants did not work. She was diagnosed with mild bipolar, but the drugs they wanted her to take were so hardcore that she decided against them. It was similar to a thorazine, that caused weight gain, etc. (and she has been struggling with her weight all her life.) The idea that it could be PMDD was floated by another doctor, so they want to have her take a type of birth control pill to see if that changes things. She seems to have her biggest swings when she has PMS, so they want to try that first. However, reading everything I've read about ADD, I'd be inclined to think she has that... She said that she will try the hormonal route first, but is now wanting to also investigate the ADD thing, or revisit the bipolar.

You know, it's just weird with my husband. Tonight I was putting together a desk, and he was just sitting there. I said "oh, you can go watch tv, cuz I know you mentioned that you just wanted to chill out instead of this." And he was.. "is there something wrong with just wanting to visit with you?" It's almost like fluctuating ADD, or maybe now that I've discussed it with him, he's trying harder to keep it together? He just doesn't seem manic or depressed enough to be bipolar. I casually mentioned something tonight about his younger daughter who messed something up and that she asked me not to show him until she'd gone for the week because she didn't want him to be mad. And he's going.. "it's no big deal, accidents happen. Why would she be afraid that I'd be mad? I'm never mad or angry." He honestly and sincerely believes that he is never irritable or angry or distant.

I swear... I am losing my mind. :eek:

Crackerjack
02-14-09, 01:27 AM
He honestly and sincerely believes that he is never irritable or angry or distant.

Ha. Yeah, that describes the people I knew as well. Then they do the behavior they deny. :rolleyes:

This is a tough one since he refuses to get diagnosed. Is there anything in his family's medical history which might shed some light?

ADDMagnet
02-14-09, 01:34 AM
Hi again!


Okay, I wrote all about my husband's ADD traits, his quick to anger, defensiveness, negativity, etc., and I wrote about it while he was very much in that mode. A week or so ago, he had a burst of clarity and cleaned the garage out (finally.) And now, he's swung far in the other direction. Like TOO accommodating, cheerful, and easy-going. This is not in response to the ADD talk, because it happened before I found this board and asked him about it. But the odd thing is that my stepdaughter and I have realized its sort of creepy nice -- it doesn't feel right. He had a birthday yesterday and he was like "this is the BEST dessert EVER!" and the "best birthday EVER!", and when he'd normally argue about dinner, he's just like.. "oh, whatever you want is what I want sweetie."

I know that people might be thinking.. "wow, what do you want, lady?" He was grouchy and you complained, and now he's nice and you complain! LOL. It's just that it feels so strange for him to suddenly be mr. super-cooperative, as though the other personality never existed. He gets like that.. for a while you can't look at him without it starting a fight, and then for a few weeks he's high on life. But, not really to the point that I'd say it was mania -- not that dramatic. Of course, he's acting like that, but he's still spending all his time at home in front of the TV or video games alone, and coming to bed 2 hours after I do. But he's just way too cheerful, that it doesn't feel like a genuine connection is being made.

Is this long cycling typical of ADD? Or could it be bipolar? My other stepdaughter, when we discussed this tonight, was floored when she realized how much she is like her father. We've always assumed she was somewhat bipolar and had been diagnosed as such, though now she's thinking it could be PMDD (hormonal), with possible some ADD (total lack of organization, motivation, terrible with $$, etc.) But she has mood cycles where she lies in bed crying for no reason, then is suddenly HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.

I was feeling so very centered now that I learned about all of this, and had at least broken the ice when he told me he did have ADD, but now this new development is confusing me.

Like I said, I wouldn't call this happy mood maniacal, nor his irritable and angry parts depressive. What you you all think?? :confused:

I have ADHD as does my 17 yr. old son, 27 yr. old daughter and my husband. I do not have any mood cycles nor do my children. My husband does but he has BPD (borderline personality disorder) in addition to severe ADHD. BPD has mood swings but there are differences between the mood swings of BPD and bipolar disorder. The mood swings of BPD are usually more in reaction to events or feelings. But sometimes it may not be evident to others what caused the mood change. And those with BPD experience periods of dysphoria (opposite of euphoria). Unless definite signs of mania are present, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two, unless the psychiatrist is extremely familiar with BOTH disorders. And they can co-exist.

I have a friend who has all three--ADHD, bipolar disorder and BPD. For a long time she had only been diagnosed with the ADHD and bipolar disorder. A visit to a new doctor brought out the BPD diagnosis. She was amazed at the difference treatment for her BPD made. She finally felt better than she ever had.

Studies have shown that it typically takes on average 10 years for someone to get a correct diagnosis of BPD after initially being evaluated by a mental health clinician. And those are the ones who are actually looking for an answer!

I remember when my brother was dating his future wife and became engaged to her after a year or so. Her mother had some idiosyntric behaviors that had us all scratching our heads. She absolutely loved my brother and was always gushing about how wonderful he was. According to his future MIL, he was the smartest, the nicest, the funniest, the cutest, the best thing that ever happened to her daughter. My parents, sisters and I were all gagging. My brother was none of these things. My brother was smart but not the smartest and the other adjectives did not fit. I'm not saying my brother was bad, just average and a bit odd. His jokes were corny, not funny. In some ways, he resembles Michael, the boss on the television show "The Office". Years later, after they had divorced, the same MIL said she always knew there was something wrong with my brother and that she was against the marriage from the start!!

I've since become quite familiar with that symptom, sometimes referred to as black and white thinking. When someone is gushing that someone or something is the best and every positive adjective ending in "est" is used, my radar goes off. My sister had an experience two weeks ago with a guy she had just met. Upon meeting her for the first time, he couldn't stop telling her how she was the prettiest, the funniest, the nicest, had the best singing voice, etc. And the key is that they say it in a way that conveys they truly "believe" it, and are not just flirting. When she was leaving to go home, he was "freaking out" because he didn't have a pen and paper to write down her phone number that he just had to have. My sister wasn't necessarily interested in this guy but she did give him her number. She ran into him a week later and casually mentioned that he hadn't called (not that she was disappointed or interested) and he "turned" on her and with a nasty tone said to her, "I was NEVER going to call you."

There's definitely more than ADHD going on here.

ADDMagnet
02-14-09, 01:44 AM
Hi.

You know, it's just weird with my husband. Tonight I was putting together a desk, and he was just sitting there. I said "oh, you can go watch tv, cuz I know you mentioned that you just wanted to chill out instead of this." And he was.. "is there something wrong with just wanting to visit with you?" It's almost like fluctuating ADD, or maybe now that I've discussed it with him, he's trying harder to keep it together? He just doesn't seem manic or depressed enough to be bipolar. I casually mentioned something tonight about his younger daughter who messed something up and that she asked me not to show him until she'd gone for the week because she didn't want him to be mad. And he's going.. "it's no big deal, accidents happen. Why would she be afraid that I'd be mad? I'm never mad or angry." He honestly and sincerely believes that he is never irritable or angry or distant.

I swear... I am losing my mind. :eek:


I swear...I am losing my mind.

Been there, said that. He honestly and sincerely believes that he is never irritable or angry or distant. Oh yeah, that doesn't shock me either. I've experienced the same thing, over and over.

One psychological description of someone who has a personality disorder is that they are "ego-syntonic". What it means is that their behavior and beliefs seem "normal" to them, although everyone else recognizes that something is wrong.

Mincan
02-14-09, 02:06 AM
Wow, this thread makes me sad. We have diagnosed and statistised every knowable trait of human behaviour.

Kunga Dorji
02-14-09, 03:16 AM
Wow, this thread makes me sad. We have diagnosed and statistised every knowable trait of human behaviour.

TO a certain extent I think you are right. ADHD in itself is a little different from the other psych disorders in that the primary disorder is more precisely defined and localised than other disorders. Bipolar is different- I don't get the feeling that it is well understood at all. I think when you are unhappy or struggling you are in an unstable position- and that your mind can respond in a number of different ways.

The old psychotherapeutic concept of the "manic defence" rings true to me- the idea of driving oneself into a state of happiness even if it means denying reality.

THe idea of bipolar disorder has a couple of important implications for ADHD- firstly a mood stabiliser is adviseable, and secondly- extra care is needed with stimulants. I don't think it trlls you much more than that though.

I will say that a full blown manic episode is a truly horrific experience for all involved- and having had one certainly makes you cautious about the dangers of subjectivity. All of us should have people close by in whose judgement we trust- you never know when your own will go.

Bywren
02-14-09, 01:53 PM
Hi All,

Well I slept on all of this, and came back to reread the replies. Thanks so much for all of the input! After reading the replies, and really thinking about things, and reading up on it. I am confident it's not bipolar. His happy mood are really just not manic, just more like oblivious, and it certainly doesn't get him much off of the couch and away from the tv. He had to get up at 4:30 this morning to drop the daughter off at the airport, and he finally went to bed at midnight (after watching some action flick, then cooking shows, on tv.)

Yes, he truly has no idea that he has anger or frustration issues, but then again, if he can't remember telling me that he wouldn't take his daughter to the airport, then I would imagine he wouldn't remember or grasp his behaviors in the past. Does that make sense? I can tell him the name of a client I have and what I'm doing for them, several times, and yet he has no recollection of it. He will tell me he's going to do something, then when I ask about it a week later, he has no idea he said anything. etc... So I would imagine that lack of memory or attention would also hold true for his moods. If he is so unaware of thing around him, then I would imagine he would not remember his angry outbursts.

As far as BPD goes. My sister has that, but she medicates with alcohol, which actually makes it worse. My father had all the symptoms,but we attributed it to a frontal lobe injury when he was hit by a drunk driver when I was 5. I grew up, until he disappeared when I was in jr. high, with his inexplicable rages and undependability. It never occurred to me, until recently, that my sister perhaps the BPD could be genetic. And no, I don't have any signs of that. Like my stepdaughter told me.. "you're 100% drama-free." So I don't see the BPD because his irritability and moodiness is not unpredictable and volatile like that. He can just be super-negative, seems to dislike a lot of people except those that he deems his special best pals (all musicians like himself.) He has also elevated his one son into god-like status, and by extension his son's new girlfriend. He just gushes about her, while completely ignoring his daughter's long time boyfriend.

I truly believe, after reading everything here, that his issue, outside of the ADD, is lack of self awareness. He seems to be in that creepy happy mood when he feels like his life is organized (i.e. his garage.), because clutter and disorganization can send him into that funk, and has no awareness of his other mood.

Of course, as many have pointed out, until he agrees to a true diagnosis, I'll never know, will I? He may have been diagnosed earlier in life, but he will not tell me that. He now just wants me to not mention it again, and if I try he just says he's sorry he said anything when I asked. The other night he was wrestling around with our dog, on our bed, right before bedtime. As usual, he ignored my pleas to not get the dog all hyper before bedtime -- I said "you're really just a big kid, aren't you?" (not in a mean tone, just an observation.) He said "absolutely, I'll always be just a big kid, that's who I am, a big kid with ADD. That's all I'll ever be. You're really just figuring this out, huh?" And he was very serious. I just told him that I've seen him that way, but until this week when he started showing self-awareness of it, it was just a passing thought I'd had. How can I ever expect a "big kid" to keep a job, maintain the house, be involved in his daughter's lives, have a meaningful relationship with me, and manage money properly? I'm starting to answer my own questions, aren't I? Do I want to be married to a big kid?

Kunga Dorji
02-14-09, 08:16 PM
Hi All,


I truly believe, after reading everything here, that his issue, outside of the ADD, is lack of self awareness. He seems to be in that creepy happy mood when he feels like his life is organized (i.e. his garage.), because clutter and disorganization can send him into that funk, and has no awareness of his other mood.

Of course, as many have pointed out, until he agrees to a true diagnosis, I'll never know, will I? He may have been diagnosed earlier in life, but he will not tell me that. He now just wants me to not mention it again, and if I try he just says he's sorry he said anything when I asked. The other night he was wrestling around with our dog, on our bed, right before bedtime. As usual, he ignored my pleas to not get the dog all hyper before bedtime -- I said "you're really just a big kid, aren't you?" (not in a mean tone, just an observation.) He said "absolutely, I'll always be just a big kid, that's who I am, a big kid with ADD. That's all I'll ever be. You're really just figuring this out, huh?" And he was very serious. I just told him that I've seen him that way, but until this week when he started showing self-awareness of it, it was just a passing thought I'd had. How can I ever expect a "big kid" to keep a job, maintain the house, be involved in his daughter's lives, have a meaningful relationship with me, and manage money properly? I'm starting to answer my own questions, aren't I? Do I want to be married to a big kid?

The big problem I would have with his attitude is that he is using his issues an excuse and not showing a will to work within the marriage in a spirit of give and take. This is not compatible with a happy marriage

Having said this, I wouldn't write the sitaution off just yet.

To some extent you need to get inside the head of an ADDer to grasp the situation. Having ADD inevitably means you are doing all kinds of dumb things all the time and causing a lot of grief along te way - to everyone- yourself included. The outcome of this is you must develop industrial strength defences or go under. His lack of awareness is an outcome of that- he has put up barriers to protect himself from the pain of his existence.

His dislike of any but a small special group of people is part of the same issue. He feels safe with musicians- so mixes with them.

His obsession with order in his own space just reflects the precariousness of his own organisation. Getting things into a mess causes lots of ADDers (myself included) to go right off the rails. I know ADDers who live in houses like rubbish dumps- you can't visit because the place stinks and there is nowhwere to sit. Deep down we all understand that the more ordered our lives are the better we function. I'm sure this is trute for non ADDers too- but the consequences of mess are worse for us.

Bringing this situation round and training yourself a husband who is a partner and not just another depandant is tricky- but maybe better thanthe alternative of walking away. My wife and I both found that the book Scattered Minds by Gabor Mate cast a lot of light on the inner workings of my mind - and suggested a way out which seems to be working.

The most important thing is not to raise his guard- but be supportive enough to let him venture out of his mental defences.

Good luck.

KFC in CA
02-14-09, 08:18 PM
Hi.
I'm not sure this will help because each individual is different. Maybe it will, so....

I have bipolar and ADD.

I'm sure that you are familiar with at least some of this if not all, but there's some things you've said that suggest maybe not. Apologies if I'm just stating the obvious.

Bipolar includes a few different mood states. Mania is big, big energy and can include psychosis. Hypomania is milder than mania. It can range from a very small elevation that you would not notice as an outside observer, and in fact, many w/bipolar don't recognize it in it's mildest form until some time after diagnosis. It ranges from that mild up to somewhere not so far off of going psychotic, spending your life savings, and seriously disordered thinking. Depression obviously varies from dysthymia to needing to die right now. The other major state is called mixed states. It is when both depression and mania are experienced together. As with mania and depression, mixed states vary in intensity and also as to which dominates - mania or depression.

When I am slighty hypo, everything gets picked up, organized, my ADD all but disappears. When it increases just a little in intensity, I become somewhat scattered. A little more and I'll have 10 projects going all together, my thoughts are scattered, my memory is not so good. More includes major increase in energy on up to more manic symptomology. I'm more talkative from the beginning and a very socially likable person until things start going too fast.

Depression for me is often agitation, irritation, a mixed state low energy style. I have no attention span, no patience, can be very argumentative, and am not apt to remember. Your husband's irritable periods sound much more like this to me than a reflection of ADD.

Plain depression includes slow thinking, no energy, memory impairment, etc. Generally, nothing is of interest and thinking to slow for much else in the way of ADD.

It really only is when I am stable that ADD becomes apparent. In any mood state, the bipolar features dominate. They are perhaps exacerbated by ADD, but there is so much more going on, and any amount of "mania" with any amount of "depression" totally hoses me cognitively.

If your husband is being nice, calm, personable now... there's a fair chance that's who he is when he is totally balanced. Maybe he's making an effort, too, but if he were in an irritable phase, he wouldn't be able to do it.

Anyway, maybe works some with your husband on bipolar symptoms and encourage him to work more closely w/his pdoc if he's not already. I did find stability after a number of years. Life improved a lot. All that irritability isn't necessary. And, I really would not put it off on ADD.

So that's me. Might not apply to him. Take it FWIW.

Good luck.

Bywren
02-15-09, 10:47 PM
Thanks for the replies now that this thread is in the Bipolar department. At first I was skeptical whether this belonged there, as I was pretty sure he couldn't be bipolar, but the replies from Barliman and KFCinCA really struck me.

KFC's description really hit me. The part about the hypomania and mixed states.. well, and that when you're on a mild high the ADD all but disappears for a while. Well, this newly perky husband is being just like that. Suddenly he's acting as if the ADD symptoms are not there, telling me I should cancel the cable tv, asking me if I'd like to go out to do something together, and even totally blowing off the fact that his daughter managed to stain the brand new carpet purple in a large spot in her room! He just laughed it off. We were expecting a major anger episode, but nothing.. he made me look like the angry one! :) I'm expecting animated bluebirds to start flying around his head any minute now.

His daughter being dxd as mild bipolar, and all of this is really making me think that he could definitely be both. He almost seemed depressed for periods of time in our life, then suddenly he's mr. on-top-of it, and other times completely foggy and unable to hold a conversation.

I will read up on the bipolar as a co-existing condition. He said again last night, though, that he has no interest in changing anything about himself. So I think at this point I'm learning all I can to make a decision about what I want to do in the future. Someone who refuses to get a solid dxd, and indicates they will not accept treatment, is not really something I feel good about right now.