Bipolar Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome

Could Asperger's Syndrome explain a great deal about my unhappy childhood?

Could Asperger’s Syndrome explain a great deal about my unhappy childhood?

Recently I read what was, to me, a startling article reporting on a study that showed a connection between depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism and autism, including Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism. Apparently this is not such a new finding as I had thought when I first read the article. That’s not surprising, since I’ve been out of the research loop for almost 3 years now. Still, for me it was one of those “OY!” moments. Autism? I’d heard about connections between all the others – but not that. And as it turned out, this study did break new ground.

The connection was found through gene expression. This, according to Leigh Hopper, who wrote about the study for UCLA Newsroom, “… is the process by which instructions in DNA are converted into a product, such as a protein.” A significant overlap was found between molecular pathways in the brain for these five mental disorders. (Do I understand this? Not entirely, so don’t feel bad if you don’t. The important thing for this discussion is that the connection was found.)

Here I must again state that I am not a medical professional, researcher, psychologist, therapist or even a trained counselor. I am a patient who has done a great deal of study about bipolar disorder¹. In this case, I was fascinated by the study, published in Science, because it suggested new possibilities for understanding myself. It may also help you understand yourself or the person you know or love who has bipolar disorder. You may get insights about people with other mental disorders – or none. Some friends of mine have also found enlightenment about themselves by looking at the symptoms of Asperger’s. Continue reading

Doctors, Doctors, Doctors

(Continued from Coronary Artery Disease? From Where?)

After the stress echocardiogram, Erika, the PA I see at my doctor’s practice (what, see the doctor? Once in half a dozen blue moons!), sent me a message saying she wanted me to have an angiogram as soon as possible. When I called the cardiology department, they wanted me to wait about three to four weeks just for a consultation.

So I called Erika and left a message telling her this and saying, basically, “Didn’t you want this done sooner than that?” Then HER nurse called me back and we went through the whole thing again, and damned if I couldn’t hear Erika in the background – so why wasn’t she talking to me? Anyway, someone, somehow, leaned on the cardiology department and got me an appointment the following week for a consultation with Dr. Cohen’s PA.

From then on, things sped up considerably. Continue reading

The Story of My First Menorah

My First Menorah

My immediate family are Episcopalians (as I was raised). The daughter of my heart says she’s “pretty much an atheist.” The son of my heart is Jewish. I am none of these, and have no holidays that correspond with my rather inchoate beliefs, so I have, since the death of our mother, celebrated Christmas (and sometimes Easter) with my brother who lives nearby and his family.

Fantasy Menorah

Joey’s Gift – the fantasy Menorah

But over the last few years my son Joey’s Jewish faith has become more important to him, and what matters to him becomes important to me. I had been looking for a menorah but hadn’t found one I liked; then last year he sent me a small pixie-ish menorah for Hanukkah. That settled it. This year I would celebrate this winter holiday with him and his family from afar.

Hanukkah is not an important holiday – it just gets extra press because people feel like Jews ought to get some attention at this time of year, too. But it is the first Jewish holiday this year that I’ve been able to celebrate. It’s not that I am converting to Judaism. I am honoring my son’s faith. I hope to celebrate the much more important Passover with him in person next year.

As I said on Facebook earlier today, “It will be odd to celebrate a religious holiday alone when I have never even done it before. But because one of the children of my heart takes his Jewish faith seriously, it is important to me to celebrate as I know he is doing so far away. I have no religious holidays of my own, so those of my family become important.” Continue reading