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

Clutter versus Chaos

A cluttered table

A cluttered table

I did a little web searching before starting this article, using the term “difference between clutter and chaos.” I found almost nothing except one site that equated chaos with hoarding. Sorry – chaos is not hoarding, even though hoarding produces chaos. Hoarding is an illness under the category of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and while it may be chaotic, you don’t have to have OCD to live in chaos.

Disorganization is a fundamental lack of structure. It’s often associated with perfectionism – “If I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all.” This inevitably leads to clutter, because you don’t have good places to put things. But it’s possible to be organized and still live in clutter or chaos.

A clutterer doesn’t just have things sitting out because they have no place; the storage spaces that do exist are also cluttered, with things thrown into drawers or placed in cabinets haphazardly, making them tough to find. A clutterer also tends to get things out and then not put them back.

Personal organizers are invaluable for clutterers because they provide the needed structure. They gather like with like and store it all together, most often in labeled bins. They demonstrate the efficiency of keeping similar things together and make it easy to put things where they belong. It’s really quite amazing to see how personal organizers can transform a cluttered home into an organized one – as long as the new storage structure is used.

But chaos is something else again. Continue reading

Depression in Tiny Pieces

Feed the cats, rinse the cans and lids, put them in the recycling. Easy. But in depression, the cans simply get tossed into the sink.

Bedtime. Dry my nose, tear the paper off a Breathe-Rite, pull off the adhesive tab covers. Throw the paper and the two little tab strips away in the wastebasket beside the bureau. But now I look at the bureau and there are four sets of papers and tabs there in a neat pile, never thrown away.

Hungry. Just a few days ago, I made myself a hamburger on toast and a bowl of Brussels sprouts. That meal is delicious and takes about 20-25 minutes to make. But now, as depression deepens, that’s too much time. Make a can of Campbell’s bean soup. Five minutes. Too long. Frappucino. Open the top and drink… 15 empty bottles on the desk. Continue reading