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

Coronary Artery Disease? From Where?

Last Wednesday I had a stress echocardiogram, and the results were “abnormal.” I don’t have the technical knowledge to understand the medical gibberish in the report, but the bottom line is that my doctor suspects “severe coronary artery disease.” So on Wednesday I have an appointment to see a cardiac nurse practitioner.

Heart disease runs deep in my family history. After getting furious with his doctor, who had missed a key indicator for diabetes on a routine blood test (Daddy noticed it and pointed it out), my father went home and had a heart attack at 62. For the next 13 years he had many long periods of decent health, but also many angiograms and angioplasties, not just in his coronary arteries but in femoral and carotid arteries as well. He was up on the roof one day in 1996, happy as could be cleaning tree and leaf debris off, and died in his sleep that night.

One of my younger brothers had a quintuple bypass while still in his 40s. Mom had atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. Continue reading

“Right” Should Not Be “Not Wrong”

After several days of fluctuating moods and anxiety, I thought I would write a blog called “What Is Right and What Is Wrong.” But as soon as I started thinking of things that are “right” about me at this moment, they were all “nots.” Things like:

  • I am not huddled in bed all day.
  • I am not living in filth.
  • I am not crippled by anxiety.

As you see, my mind immediately picked “right” things that were negative wrongs.

I can’t say:

  • I have a positive outlook all day.
  • My home is clean.
  • I am free of anxiety.

Instead, the initial “rights” all have a “wrong” associated with them:

  • I’m not huddled in bed all day, but my moods are switching frequently between depressed and decent.
  • I’m not living in filth, but my house is messy and badly needs a thorough cleaning.
  • I’m not crippled by anxiety, but I’m definitely having problems with it.

It’s really easy to think of “wrongs”:

  • I drink way too much Frappuccino, often to the exclusion of any solid food all day.
  • I smoke WAY too much (up to 3 packs a day).
  • I am 70+ pounds overweight and am doing nothing about it.
  • I make no effort to exercise.
  • I still don’t open and deal with mail regularly.
  • I can get things clean, but I can’t keep them clean (like my desk. It took me two days to trash it from being completely cleared off).
  • My diet is very, very bad for a diabetic.

It’s very hard to think of “rights” that aren’t negatives:

  • I take good care of my cats.
  • I’ve kept my closets pretty well-organized the way the professional organizers did them.
  • I take my meds on time.
  • Ummmmm….

Things that are right about a person should be better than just “not wrong.” And while a little more thinking does yield things that are really right, like “I love my children and they love me,” what springs to mind first is always the most revealing.

Tomorrow my mood may be worse. Or better. I’ve been cycling every day or two. Depending on the day’s mood, my responses to this exercise might be different. It’s scary to think that they might be the same.