The ADHD and Bipolar Disorder Connection

ADHD and Bipolar Disorder Connection

This question comes up a lot: “How do you know if it’s ADHD or bipolar disorder?” And “Is there an ADHD and bipolar disorder connection?”

My friend and fellow journalist-advocate John McManamy writes an excellent blog on bipolar disorder: Knowledge Is Necessity. He started that blog in 2008, the same year I started this blog, ADHD Roller Coaster. We were “early adopters,” you might say.

In his regular blog posts on Knowledge Is Necessity, John often reminds his readers to also consider any possible indicators of ADHD:

Because unrecognized ADHD could be what is holding you or your loved one back. Perhaps it’s not bi-polar but actually ADHD. Or the two are co-existing: bipolar with some attention-impulse issues; ADHD with some mood-emotions issues.

Likewise, if you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD (or suspect you have it), it’s also important to watch for bipolar and mood-disorder symptoms. Stimulants alone can exacerbate those issues.

As John says:

Either way, in bipolar disorder, if co-existing ADHD is not addressed, treatment is problematic frustration with meds, with no recovery.

In ADHD, if co-existing bipolar is not addressed, same thing: treatment is problematic, frustration with meds, with no recovery.

I encourage you to learn about the importance of second opinions when it comes to psychiatric diagnosis: Frank South, author and Hollywood screenwriter, joined the PBS Second Opinion team to talk about ADHD and proper diagnosis.

Update to This Post: March 2020

For many years, John also wrote about bipolar disorder at Health Central. This post originally shared excerpts from a blog series he wrote there on the ADHD and bipolar disorder connection, along with links to each post. Unfortunately, those posts have disappeared.  I have left the excerpts below, to give an idea of the questions we ask about the ADHD and bipolar connection.

Recently, he has devoted a series of posts addressing this very topic. I share handy links to each post below.

Diagnostic Labels: What Are They Good For?

Rarely, if ever, do we “just have bipolar.” Something else is invariably going on. Perhaps not full-blown, often “a little bit of this” and “a little bit of that.” For instance, Ellen Frank of the University of Pittsburgh has done work in the overlap between mood disorders and anxiety. I recall hearing her in a talk telling people that just two symptoms of another condition can significantly complicate the course and treatment of the mood disorder.

You are probably reading this page because you know in your bones that you have bipolar [or in this blog’s case, ADHD]. If you are like me, you may have welcomed the diagnosis. It explained your whole crazy life. It offered you the hope of getting your life back on track, once you figured out the nature of this beast.

But, if you are like me, you also found that there were more obstacles to your recovery than you bargained on. Once you had a handle on controlling your depressions and manias, you may have noticed some quirks in your thinking and emotions and behaviors. What was going on?

[advertising; not endorsement] [advertising; not endorsement]

A little bit of this and that? Another full-blown diagnosis?

Paying Attention to Attention

You know how it goes down. It’s late evening, you’re starting to droop, big day tomorrow, time to hit the hay. But first, five minutes to check out Facebook. Someone’s just posted “Ten Reasons Why Rednecks Make Bad Astrophysicists.” You decide you need a good laugh. You click to the full piece. It’s hilarious. You’re laughing your ass off. You can’t stop now, of course. You click on the link to “Seven Great Disasters in History Caused By Men Who Didn’t Ask for Directions.”

Inside your brain, your dopamine circuits are firing. The thinking parts of your brain lock in. You are alert and hyper-focused, but at the expense of any awareness of your immediate world and what you need to be doing to negotiate your way through it. All sense of time vanishes.

Lack of Impulse Control or Hypomania?

According to data from the International Mood Disorders Collaborative Project, nearly one in five individuals with bipolar experience ADHD.

What we really need to be aware of, though, is that we don’t have to have a full-blown ADHD diagnosis to complicate our lives. Virtually all of us (“normal” people included) have attention problems of some sort. Thus, we all need to be paying attention – to attention.

Another element of ADHD concerns the lack of ability to rein in impulses.

It works something like this: Attention is a function of the thinking parts of the brain. If you’re not thinking right, the front end of your brain is perpetually engaged in a losing battle with the back end of the brain.

The back of your brain may tell you that now would be a good time to belt out “There’s No Business Like Show Business” in your best Ethel Merman voice. The front end of your brain neglects to remind you that you happen to be in the middle of a business meeting right now.

Lack of Focus or Depression or Fatigue?

Is it hypomania or is it ADHD? This common question begs the obvious follow-up: Is it depression or is it ADHD? For starters, check out this DSM-IV symptom for depression:

Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness …

Now compare that to this symptom for ADHD:

Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks …

“Fighting through the fog” is how those with ADHD describe their attempts to achieve some form of mental clarity.  All of us (even those considered “normal”) know what this is like. We experience it every morning, prior to our coffee, which I jokingly refer to as my “neuro-cognitive starter.”

Gulp-gulp-ahh! The fog lifts. But what if it doesn’t? What if, in effect, you don’t fully awaken? Is this depression or is this ADHD? Maybe chronic fatigue?  Perhaps all of the above?


Previously, we looked at the confusion between hypomania and ADHD and depression (and fatigue).

By way of example: If you are dancing on a table during a business meeting, oblivious to those around you, is it hypomania or ADHD?

What if you are:

  • Over-absorbed in a project or activity?
  • Jumping from one thing to the other?
  • Failing to rein in your impulses?
  • Getting high on doing something totally crazy or risky?

Is it hypomania or ADHD?



77 thoughts on “The ADHD and Bipolar Disorder Connection”

  1. well call me “wren” its not my real name because i am a veteran and i think my current doctor might read this and I hope that he does. Perhaps he will pick up a copy of your book? It’s part of my “crazy life”. I have enjoyed your sight very much thank you. Well have i got a good one for you all . Diagnosed at age 10, A.D.H.D and a 170 I.Q . so they tried to give me stimulants but i was really against pills and really most factory made foods . I said no to all medications or any pills till the military . Oh another thing is i refused to believe something was wrong with me. But i was hyper capital “h” but not in the same way i am now and neither is my depression or anxiety. Its different now ,so at one time for a long time i would be depressed for months at a time . almost a whole year in high school , as soon as i got out of college and traveled before the towers came down and i joined up . i did not get depressed even once and took zero medications . so depression happened again and again in 2007 .it was being taken off the benzos that were prescribed but i didnt know that at the time . so i became suicidal trying to drown myself and i almost suceeded but the sand bar in the river had moved so i stood up and all the animals in the forest just stopped for a long time . it was loud when the commotion returned but instead of chatter and wisehels .. it was laughter the birds and creatures were giggeling at my mistake and i looked stupid in my metal suit made of chains from a motor pulley system . so the depression stopped but the comfort from “valium” never stopped and only when traveling to every other country in the world would i get a small tree months of relief. i’m now in my forties and still act and kinda still look like i did back then . only as i get older and different models of what good treatment looks like come and go. I still feel like a guinia pig only i know what works but my good doctor who had me stable for over four years . He is amazing and many article’s that he had published at at “Duke” , “Harvard” turned up later in national magazines and in a “us weekly” a Full article was written about the man him self . He took care of me a little over four years all “pro bono” So i am telling my story but i really respect his commitment to those of us who need it most . often its the least among us that live to tell the story and i feel like i am “one of the lucky ones .However because i did have some substance abuse issues in the past. He is a Trail blazer maybe? You make up your mind? His method of treatment is progressive but its not hard to wrap ones mind around the reasons so he would prescribe low doses of “benzo” on PRN and switching them every six months. Then in my case because of my size and tolerance he did prescribe somewhat higher doses of a.d.h.d medication? Im a “big boy” can get really big so the two typical medications that come to mind would be given and if i got past 90 mg. on the one kind like
    ” adderall ” i would go to 70 mg. of ” vyvanse ” on the other longer acting and all brand name; from the pharmacy of my choice and trust! Also he gave me these very strong albeit short weekly commands . Like ; “Just keep your job and do something for the community . He still takes meals to a local non profit . He retired and my life fell apart for a number of years until a smart addiction specialist believed in me and it had been a hard go of it! Because my retired good psychiatrist was amazing! He even had me opiate free, so when i showed up at her office for “m.a.t” treatment. i was more of a mental health patient, so after about two years . I went to the veterans admin. Where in the military in 2004 i was first given “Valium” .For the first time. Fast forward and v.a psychiatrist / doctor promised to not take me off the med’s and diagnosed me with bipolar, i just assumed that i was giving him the diagnosis in exchange for the possibility that he isnt the only person who can read the d.s.m -is disabled veteran can earn his trust? Mostly because the Lithium carbonate lithium carbonate only makes me manic and “lithium” makes me hungry! so i eat . So i’m fat so my tolerance goes up and i get depressed. I just wish i had a good doctor. its about listening to us and not just acting like our trauma doesn’t count! like we can’t tell the difference between manufactures. or generic brand names. Well thank you so much! I do feel better . With respect to all and love to all.

    1. Hi Wren,

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      I imagine the number of people with undiagnosed/mis-diagnosed ADHD on benzos is just staggering.

      Maybe even more than the number diagnosed with “depression” and treated with anti-depressants.

      I admire your determination.

      take care,

  2. Good morning Gina.
    My name is Araceli and I had wrote you a few months back, I had mentioned I had been diagnosed with ADHD when I was 12 years old. Never got treatment for it. Since then I always known I’ve had a problem but because of the lack of information, the ingnorance and also not having health insurance can be extremely frustrating.
    Finally last month after struggling with being a recovering addict and having adhd I finally started going to a psychiatrist who is trying to help me find the right medication I also got diagnosed with biopolar disorder so know is a little bit harder to find the balance.
    I’m still not taking any medication at this time I had an allergic reaction to the first medication he prescribed me so we are looking for something that will work for me. Thank you so much for being a awesome woman God blees

    1. Dear Araceli,

      I’m so glad to hear from you! And I’m so pleased that you succeeded at long last in finding a psychiatrist to help you.

      Sometimes all folks need is validation that they deserve help. With that, they can keep pushing to the finish line. I’ve seen that so many times.

      So, congratulations to you and well done. I know it’s not easy!

      If you had an allergic reaction, it might have been a generic medication. They have different colorants and binders than with the brand medications, and some people are sensitive to them.

      Maybe you have bipolar as well as ADHD, but make sure your physician knows that ADHD can sometimes “look like” bipolar disorder. Due to the emotional dysregulation component.

      Good luck and keep me posted!!


  3. Pat Campbell

    This has been the best information ever! My son 23, has now been on this roller coaster for the last 3 months, they have had him on Seroquel, resperdone, trintellex until final he had manic I thought due to cold turkey. He has ended up in a behavioral health clinic and now he is on Cymbalta, resperdone, and ambilify. His cousin was just diagnosed with ADD, at 25 and is doing great, we suspected all along my son was suffering with ADD, there might be a chance of bi-polar in my husbands family, but nothing diagnosed. I’m hoping this is the end of the roller coaster but not sure.

    1. Hi Pat,

      Ugh, how horrifying. The sloppiness and immense bias of some in the mental health business just gobsmacks me every day.

      The truth is, some of these “mental health professionals” will see only depression or only anxiety or only bipolar or only….and they do not consider all the possibilities.

      Some of them don’t even “believe” in ADHD, which strikes me as gross negligence and malpractice — especially considering the side effects of the inappropriate medications they are throwing at people.

      Please, please get your hands on my book and read it closely. If you find yourself saying, “yes yes yes,” then you’ll know you are looking at ADHD and not bipolar. (Though the two can co-exist.)

      Then you can set out to find someone who can truly help your son. Poor guy…. 🙁

      Good luck!


  4. Pingback: Adult Addhd Medications

  5. I am currently looking into bipolar disorder, as my therapist believes that I may have it, along with ADD. I have tried to function in groups for so long, but I have never felt like I fit in anywhere. I’m glad to know that there’s a correlation.

    1. Hi Byron,

      Our human brains are indeed complex. It’s seldom easy to make clear differentiations among these syndromes.

      Make sure that your therapist is well grounded in information on both ADHD and bipolar. Too often, ADHD is misdiagnosed as bipolar, often because the actual presentations of ADHD seldom go with the stereotypes that some people want to believe (e.g. ADHD makes a person funny, creative, gregarious, extroverted, etc.).
      Good luck in sorting out the threads.

  6. So I have been bipolar 1, all my life. I never did anything about it until I had children. I found a medicine, finally, that works well for me. I diagnosed myself way before I ever went to several doctors who agreed with me as well. But I know without a doubt I am ADD as well. But all the doctors I’ve spoken to are not hesitant to mix a mood stabilizer with the ADD meds. Neither agreeing nor disagreeing but rather ignoring my concerns for it. Bc I am READY FOR THE FOG TO LIFT. As most bipolar ppl I self medicated for a long time so I know how well the ADD medication works for me. What should I do?

    1. Hi Amber,

      You’re smart to have figured out that ADHD and bipolar disorder can co-exist, and that ignoring one or the other might create real problems for you.

      And you’re right to be cautious about taking a stimulant when you have bipolar disorder. When I’ve asked the psychiatric experts I trust about this, they’ve said that, generally speaking, it is possible to also treat ADHD with stimulants once the bipolar disorder is stabilized.

      This short article confirms that:

      Perhaps the physicians you spoke with have experience in this area (treating ADHD with a stimulant once bipolar disorder is stabilized). I’d be sure to ask them, though. I’d also ask how they would go about it and what signs they would look for that the stimulant is exacerbating the bipolar. (Don’t “lead the witness.” Let them answer the question.)

      The answer I’d look for goes something like, “We will first establish baseline using rating scales. Then we will start with a VERY LOW dose of stimulants and do the rating scales again. We don’t want to exacerbate mania or irritability.”

      In my opinion (not a physician!), I would NOT be willing to risk the amphetamine class stimulant if I were in your situation. I’d want to start with a low dose of BRAND Ritalin. You could even try something like the patch (Daytrana), so you could take it off if you start experiencing adverse side effects. Both Ritalin and Daytrana contain the Methylphenidate class of stimulants.

      That’s helpful data, that your “self-medication” in the past indicated that stimulants were helpful. But now you are on regular medication, right? And you don’t know how it will interact.

      The main thing, with any new medication, is START LOW, TITRATE SLOW (meaning, go up on the dosage slowly).

      Good luck!

  7. A fog? That is daily life for me.

    I don’t have time to feel that way. There are some days that I feel that I have tripped and called into a deep and dark hole. I can see the light above me. I climb and climb, scratch and claw trying to pull myself out. The more I fight it, the worse I feel and seems the deeper and darker my new prison feels.

    I have found that I need just a few minutes for me. I do something that I really enjoy such as gardening. I love the feeling that I get knowing that I was the reason my flowers are gorgeous, the reason there are vegetables to enjoy, and the reason that the landscaping is quite lovely.

    I always thought that there was something wrong with me. I was told that I have ADHD. I have been told I am OCD. I have been told that I am depressed. I have been told that I am bi-polar. Good grief! What is wrong with me?

    I can tell you that I very particular about my house, inside and out.

    I do get very distracted and find that I can’t really concentrate or I bounce from one project to the next. I do have feelings of depression…but I get out and do something that I can feel proud of and that helps me a lot. Bi-polar….there is a possibility.

    I get a bit “crazy” especially about a week before my cycle begins. I can feel it build up and when I explode I feel that I am in the passenger seat no longer in control. I hate it. Absolutely hate it. I have found one thing that helps balance me…..makes me feel close to normal. Phentermine.

    What is the chemical properties in this that provides my psyche with balance? What am I lacking, chemically, that my body is not producing naturally? Why does every doctor I have ever been able to open up to feel obliged to slap with me a label and then go on about their merry day?

    I want me back. I love life. I love my family. I need help. I just want to know what is wrong with me so I can help myself without being prescribed medications that make me resemble a zombie (I refuse to take those medications….I will stick to my phentermine). Any advice, knowledge, assistance, or help of any kind will greatly be appreciated.

    1. Hi Lee Ann,

      Most people wouldn’t believe the scattershot approach to psychiatry that one risks when one has the challenges you describe. ADHD can “look like” depression. Bipolar, if seen in the “down” phase, can look like depression. It’s the careful history taking and paying attention to the effects of medications, at low doses at first, that helps to identify the predominating condition.

      No matter what the physical issue, there is always a risk a misdiagnosis. But with psychiatry, the diagnoses can be all over the map. And that’s highly disturbing, because the medication that might help one condition can exacerbate another condition–one that the person might actually have.

      Frankly, it’s nuts.

      Some day I hope we will have better methods of diagnosing.

      For now, if you’ve found the phentermine helps you feel “close to normal,” then add a notch in the ADHD column. That is a stimulant. A different type of stimulant than are the first-line medications for ADHD, but a stimulant nonetheless.

      Many of my female friends with ADHD tell me they feel the same way about a week before their menstrual period. Dr. Patricia Quinn has recommended increasing the stimulant dosage around that time.

      Also, our brains depend on good nutrition, along with adequate exercise, sunlight and sleep. So, it’s important to aim for all that, too. Trouble is, people with ADHD find it hard to cover all those bases without effective medication on board, to help them be more organized and efficient with their time.

      I hope this helps.

      Good luck!

  8. Pingback: CorePsych | ADHD Insights: Prozac, Paxil and Amphetamines - CorePsych

  9. Mary Anne Reid

    Daughter was diagnosed by several doctors as ADHD from age 12. She feels much better if she takes her Adderall. Never any mania outbreaks or anything resembling Bi-Polar. Recently has been diagnosed with PMDD, severe pre menstrual symptoms. Other times during the month she is fine. This has been going on for 5 months. A doctor who is a general practitioner said she is neither, she is bi polar. The medicine she had to take for that put her over the top and she almost died because of too many medicines at once. They were not compatible. She is now being told she is PTSD and bi polar. How can these doctors make these decisions without knowing her and in 15 minutes they’re giving her new medication. We are confused and upset. She might have some bi polar I don’t know but she never has anything mania at all and the Adderall has always helped. What do we do next? Her only time of depression which she never had before is at period time. It lasts for 2/3 days and then disappears. They all have her on so much meds, I’m really concerned now.

    1. Hi Mary Anne,

      Your story, like so many others, just makes me angry. How dare they be so cavalier?

      If she was doing well, only doing poorly during her periods, the docs should have taken that as their cue—not gone off the beam with bi-polar, PTSD, and whatever else struck their fancy.

      (Am I understanding that correctly?)

      Here’s one important fact: Women with ADHD will sometimes need a little higher dosage of the stimulant around their periods. This is due to the fluctuating hormones that affect brain chemicals.

      If I’m understanding this correctly….if it were my daughter, I’d stop any medications for bi-polar and resume with what worked for you before, Adderall, BUT I might try Vyvanse instead.

      You also want to be sure she’s eating a good diet, with plenty of B vitamins, not much sugar or bad fats. This can exacerbate menstrual/hormone problems that create depression-like effects around the period.

      It also might be that a very low dose of an SSRI anti-depressant might help ward off these dips during her period.

      I’d also write a letter of complaint to the medical licensing board about that doctor.

      Again, I am basing this response solely on what you’ve written above. Of course, I cannot offer medical advise on anyone, much less someone I’ve never met.


  10. I have a 19yr old that was diagnosed with ADD- HD an BIPOLAR. I Had him at age 19.. I have been a single mom most of those yrs. Scared to have a relationship , he has caused many break ups an lose of friends.. I had him tested when he was 13 an was positive for the above mentioned.. He has been in an out of trouble currently on probation for 5yrs.. He has been in special ED since 3rd grade.. When he was diagnosed he was able to recv. Medical attention, but got caught selling it on school campus an was exbaled.. An I could never get him to go back no matter what I tried. So he has a 8th grade education ..I wasn’t able to get the meds again. I literally have been living a nightmare since.. I’ve almost lost jobs because of the trouble an un trust that grew over the yrs to leave him alone.. I daily get verbally abused by him an then
    For about a few hrs maybe he is nice.. Would be a strong word..
    He can’t keep a job nor friends.. Family members have distAnce them selves since he has taken from them.. He has not know his dad since he was two for he moved out of the county an never returned.. I’m seeing as he has got older a very big concern on his actions such as anger wanting to fight all the time physically with other..
    I met a true speciAl person an had another child she is now 7.. He is so verbal infornt of her an a terrible example for her an I try my best to help him control It.. Well it got so bad between all him an I separated.. My daughter is a very bright child an such a great child.. I see the difference in there actions even at his age at 7 an her now at 7..
    I do not want him to act this way or verbally abuse me anymore or infornt of his sister.. He does not care who or where we are he does it.. I’m mentally worn down an beginning not to care anymore about him.. After so many yrs of hearing him call me names , stealing from me, yelling , breaking , breaks everything I have that was nice, mulipulates every stiution, I walk on egg shells an have to watch every little thing I say scared it will set him off. Its a constant battle field an I have no weapon.. I’m at my wits ends with him this last yr has been worst then others.. He has been to jail twice.. I did the tough love an I’m the one paying for it.. I do not know if he can ever get meds again nor am I sure he want try to sell them again.. If u can think of it he has don’t it said it an has tried to do it..
    I’ve tried everything I know an things others have suggested.. I honestly have lost all hope for him an need help but do not know anymore where to go..
    I’m becoming very lost an having a I done care attitude about him.. I can’t even enjoy my daughter because he takes so much of my time..
    Please help a tired worn out hopeless mother of a ADDHD BIPOLAR SON. .

    1. Dear Kamore,

      The public that clamors about over-diagnosis and medication being “easy fixes” by “lazy parents” should read stories such as yours.

      It can be so much harder, if not sometimes impossible, to help such a person as your son as an adult instead of in childhood. By adulthood, not only are baseline symptoms exacerbated but also so are bad habits and poor coping strategies.

      If you can somehow talk him into (and afford) a residential treatment facility, that might be the only answer. Depending on the state in which you live, laws can vary on being able to do this for a loved one. You might want to check out a non-profit called The Treatment Advocacy Center, which has made this their mission.

      In the meantime, it seems you have to do all you can to protect yourself and your daughter. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking this must be for a mother. We need so much more support for people in your situation.

      Best of luck to you.

    2. Thank you for the words an web address. I was just looking up some treatments like that..
      I agree that most people do blame over diagnosed an lazy parents.. I have heard it all.. Even why do u let him talk to you like that.. I just remind them do u really think I let him talk to me like that?? I have spent my life savings an other money to help him.. Treatment centers , cousling, probation fee as a juvenile an adult, replacing broken iteams , school truancy, family possession replaced, a flooded apt he shot at the water sprinkler with a air soft gun, cars he has keyed, car accidents he has made happen, refunding money from trying to be a team mom in baseball an stole the end of league party money. The list goes on.. I hide my car keys at night an I don’t ever carry cash.. My bank card is encrypted , I’ve got lease violation almost kicking me out for his actions.. I don’t bring my friends around anymore nor anyone I’d like to date.. He has ruined a lot of those relationships..
      I have kept my head above water but feeling like I’m at the bottom of the ocean.. He can be nice one minute an I saw one thing out of place not even directed to him he flys off the handle an it is a all day battle..
      I have spoke. Before to him about treatment center’s as such an it wAs a no go.. He ran away for a week at the age of 14.. I drove for hours everyday that week hoping he was walking the streets.. I have cried an tried an bent over twice over backwards to help him.. He even once pee pee In some alcohol I had an put it back in the freezer hoping I would drink it.. Of course liquor doesn’t freeze.. So … I now longer have alcohol at home since..
      He controls my life not the other way around… Recently I left my FB open which I never do.. An he started to msg my friends saying things not appropriate an his is so lucky one was not my boss.. Not sure how I would have handle that..
      I will of course try to revitst the treatment center.. He is on probation so I need to find out what an if he can do that if he is willing.. I’ve just spent every dime I have on him I’m not sure I can afford to do it again.. He was in a drug rehab for the first juvenile offense an one week in he punched a kid for reach over him.. The released him , but I still had to pay every dime.. I don’t understand why they released him.. He needs help that’s why he is in there.. And he was having to get clean off his meds He was taking what did they except really.. They didn’t allow him to take a medication dearly needed.
      I have had to kick him out 3 Times in the past month.. I have to protect my daughter I’m all she has.. So he leaves for a little as I advise pls don’t come back tell the morning or when u calm dwn.. He returns an sits at my front door plays his Music as loud as possible sings out loud runs the stairs, beats on the door.. Rings the door bell a million times.. As her an I sit there trying to sometimes do homework or play with all the behavior going on out side the door.. Finally after about 3 hrs of it he lays dwn an goes to sleep. This sometimes is at 11 an 12 pm at night.. So I do not get any rest an last thing I won’t is for his sister to be scared of him.. I do explain to her as best for her to understand his condition.. I’m afaird of loosing my visitation rights to her father.. I have her solely but, he knows how my son is for he has first hand of it prior.. I thank God he is understanding at this point, I don’t want to see what it takes to loose her..
      She is my hope in life an if things are bad all she does is smile at me an it all goes away.. I can’t let that be taken from her because of his actions.
      I became so stone cold on my feelings from all the verbal abuse , I haven’t cried in 3 yrs about anything..
      After the incident last night I cried for hrs . an for the first time I have ever reach out in a public form..
      Thank you for taking the time to read my tradegies an helpi g me feel a lil more hopeful again..
      Thank you

    3. I am so sorry you are dealing with this, kamore.

      Treatment that doesn’t take into account underlying brain disorders is doomed to fail. Yet, that’s what so much substance-abuse and even other types of therapy do: ignore the brain and focus on the talky talk. Effective treatment often requires both.

      Maybe there are some new resources in your community by now.

      I wish you and your family all the best.

  11. Lana normand

    hi everyone

    after reading the comments I have been sure im bipolar and adhd although the doctors keep telling me I have a bad temper and a bit depressed sometimes, they wont listen to me

    1. Hi Lana,

      I’m sorry to hear that your doctors are not more forthcoming in their efforts to help you.

      Please keep educating yourself and connecting with other people who have ADHD and/or bi-polar. The more your perceptions are validated, the better your chances of finding a medical professional to take you seriously.

      Good luck!

  12. I am SO going to subscribe to this forum. At the risk of sounding cliché, I can identify so closely with the way some describe their feelings and thoughts. I have thought some of the exact same thoughts (even the wording), literally. My diagnosis (or, ahem, possible diagnoses) is/are still up in the air. I’m still weighing the pros and cons of Dx, Tx and Rx. I have found that my incessant researching and Googling and contemplating and questioning and learning and self-educating and “figuring it out for myself” is completely counterproductive, and is quite possibly lowering my IQ. :/ I am more confused than ever. Of all the pages I’ve visited, I have to say this one instantly became my favorite. Gina Pera, your responses are all so supportive and informative, and I love that you try to keep the subject matter a little light-hearted. That’s the sort of thing that reminds me that it’s unfair, but it’s life, and it will be okay. Welp, pulling an all-nighter to “finish” a few research papers….so much fun 🙂 I look forward to reading more here. Feeling “heard” makes such a huge difference. Not trying to make everyone nauseated, but I find it encouraging that (apparently) we’re not alone in our screwed-up-ed-ness. But then again, I am awake at 4:19 in the morning and delirium has likely set in. Peace, love, happiness, etc., etc.

    1. lol! Jaylee, I hope you’ve gotten some sleep by now.

      And, THANK YOU for understanding exactly what I’m trying to do here.

      re: the “weighing the pros and cons,” we talked about this a lot in the last Adult ADHD group (monthly, in Silicon Valley). One guy, in particular, has been really struggling with the common phenomenon of thinking thinking thinking thinking about all these issues, but not getting off the dime.

      Part of this is what my friend Dr. Chuck Parker calls “Thinking ADHD” — that is, thinking abundantly but not acting.

      But when it comes to pursuing an evaluation for ADHD+, it’s profoundly understandable. It’s an absolute crapshoot as to whether one’s careful efforts in researching and identifying an competent psychiatrist (or other mental health professional) will result in “truth” or nightmare.

      Time and again, people with ADHD (eventually diagnosed) have to pound the pavement in order to finally find a professional with ADHD expertise. Until that point, they encounter docs who don’t “believe” in ADHD (as if it were the tooth fairy) or who “specialize” in anxiety, bi-polar, or the like and want to shoe-horn every patient into that “specialty.”

      Anyway, if you can finish a few research papers in one night, you’re smart enough to get started. Just remember that the first mental health professional you see might be a dud, and to keep shopping. Participating in a support group can really help strengthen the backbone.

      Good luck!

  13. Ok, I didn’t proof read that and I got distracted a few times before I finished. But I’ve always had a problem but it mainly just effected me so I never said nothing but now I can tell from the looks I get from my family that it annoys them. Forgeting names, directions to somewhere we just went. Our neighbors names that I’ve lived next to for 4 yrs. I can’t organize anything to any extent. The yelling at home. We just celebrated our first yr anniversary of marraige. And I look back sometimes and wonder why he puts up with it. He bipolar. He even says I have bipolar moments. I just don’t wanna go through all the doc and meds and the looks I’ve seen people give to others if its not going to be worth it. Sorry to take up all this space. I ramble a lot to myself.hee

  14. I haven’t been diagnosed with anything but I haven’t asked the doctors about anything yet. I go through a lot of the things people have posted on here. I was wondering if meds really make a difference if you find the right ones. For some reason ever since I had my daughter almost 4 yrs ago its been getting worse. And I do stuff from both bipolar and add. My brother is bipolar among other things. My daydreaming or spacing out is worse than when I was a kid. I even spaced out on myself a couple of months ago. I didn’t even know that was possible. I was thinking to myself what I needed to do that day then drifted off into a daydream then when I came back I could still hear myself. I snap all the time at home. Getting harder to hold myself back in public. Medications won’t turn you into like a zombie or just change you if that’s my problem will it?

    1. Hi Mindy,

      I understand the reluctance to pursue a diagnosis. It’s not “foolproof.” The quality of doctors varies. There can be many hurdles to leap and bureaucracy to negotiate. Then again, for some people, it’s not so hard. They luck out with a good mental health professional.

      One thing is for sure: You describe challenges that could land you in big trouble. You could space out while driving or crossing the street. You could get in a physical altercation that results in legal intervention. Many things are possible. You might even have something going on in your brain, such as a tumor or such.

      You have a four-year-old child. You owe it to her to take care of yourself.

      No, medication for ADHD does not turn you into a “zombie.” That results from the medication (specifically the MPH — Ritalin, Concerta, etc.) being too high.

      Trying these medications in a prudent way is completely reversible. You just stop taking it. It’s not like cutting off a leg. Now, get to it! 🙂

      Good luck,

  15. alison herbert

    Hi I have been diagnosed with bipolar and recently adhd I am on lithium and stara what ever there called and I can’t get out of this deep depression I really don’t know what to do I haven’t been stable for 3 years now I am mainly depressed sometimes happy a lot of the time shouting and not handling situations very well but mostly down crying and depressed

    1. Hi Alison,

      I wish I had some advice for you. Instead, I can offer my sympathies and encourage you to keep trying. The Strattera takes a while to kick in to full effect. But if you are feeling worse, you definitely need to tell your doctor about it.

      take care,

  16. It’s just about 0430 where I am right now. Been going through some crazy phase that I don’t even understand. Having strange thoughts. So many questions running through my mind. Feels like I’ll snap any day now. Went out downtown alone tonight. I’ve never done that before. Now I’m sitting in the parking lot of a Walmart in my car. First of all I’d like to apologize if my comment is all over the place and difficult to comprehend. I’ve taken 3 20mg Adderal XR’s today. Also had quite a bit to drink tonight. I’ve been living with severe ADHD my entire life. I was diagnosed at 14 or so. I’ve been prescribed Adderal, Strattera, Wellbutrin … Just going to stop there since of course I cannot remember the names of the other meds I have taken. The doctors I’ve seen have also suggested that I have a host of other mental conditions. I don’t even know what’s going on right now I feel so so lost. Going through some major life changes right now and everything is just caving in on me so fast. I’ve been in this place in my mind hundreds of times but it really never gets easier. I’m really giving my all to make sense of this life. Made some progress but you know how it goes. 1 step forward 2 steps back. Its never been this bad and in my heart I know this is just another trial which will pass in time. But it seems I am incapable of controlling my thoughts, actions, emotions or really anything for any decent amount of time. Well I sat here in this parking lot and read all of your articles and I just want you to know that it really may have saved my life tonight. If even just for tonight. I have tons of friends and am actually very popular. I get along with anybody in no time. I’m well respected by my friends and peers. Wont talk about family just now. But I don’t feel like the confident, intelligent etc. person that everyone seems to think I am whatsoever. I feel like I must be subconsciously manipulating everyone around me or something and I can’t stop. Like my entire persona is a deep dark ugly lie. I give everything Ive got physically and mentally to the people I love. I don’t ever let them know that though. That whole love thing actually scares me very much. Everyone treats me like I’m so goddamn strong and I always have all the answers. I try not to show them my weakness’ because I feel like Ill lose the ability to help people if they found out how messed up and weak I feel inside. So here I am in my car now wanting to just cry it all out. Scream at the sky. Break everything. But nothing comes out. I am so tired of being frustrated angry sad the rage the hate the self pity my heart beating a million bpm being on the edge of that cliff all alone trapped in my own fucked up broken mind. Tired of fighting so hard just to perform at a mediocre level that an average person pulls off so easily on a whim. Tired of the relentless memories of all the pain Ive caused. Playing in the back of my mind 24/7 affecting every single decision I make. Im so scared to even say a word sometimes. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I don’t want to hurt myself. I keep hoping And trying new doses new medications. How am I supposed to even know who I am? So I’m this pill one day and a different one another. A lot of things written here tonight I’ve never shared with anybody. Ever. Im sorry if my post offends anyone here. It felt good to type/write this out tonight. Ive never done this before. I guess we may all have attention issues here so I wonder if anyone will even get this far. But thank you so much everyone thats shared on this page. Thank you Nina for your article. I don’t know how long Ill remember this… but your words helped me not feel so alone in this today. So tomorrow after sleeping through no less than 10 alarms I’ll wake up and continue the fight. I’m completely sober now, going to safely drive home and try to get some sleep. Well here goes. This is me.


    1. Hi Justin,
      I read every word. I hope you were able to get some sleep.

      Feel free to drop in any time. I’m so grateful that my blog has been of some comfort to you.

      take care,

    2. Hi Justin, I can really relate to what you said about feeling like you manipulate people around you. I feel the same. I feel sad and guilty. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I take that rage I’m feeling and just use it against my closest friends and family. I wish I could just let that feeling pass without feeling like my body is on fire and I need to scream and cry . I usually don’t even have a reason to be angry at anyone. I think its frustration and overthinking.. Please let me know what you have done since your post… Has anything helped you? Its nice to know Im not alone and I really hope there is a solution!
      Thank you

  17. I have been being treated for bipolar II disorder and generalized anxiety disorder for the last 10 years. I have been on pretty much every antidepressant, lithium and other meds for all this time. nothing has helped. Still, to this day I go from happy to sad to crying to laughing to being super talkative to daydreaming during conversations in a matter of an hour or two. I actually feel crazy and it is compromising my relationship with my husband because he doesn’t understand it and I cant just make it stop. I cant make a decision for myself, even like where to go eat at. I haven’t worked in a long time because of my anxiety and inability to focus. The more I read online, the more I think it sounds like I could have adult ADHD. But, I do believe I am bipolar as well. Is that possible? I have an appt. to see my psychiatrist in a week and want to talk to him but I don’t want to insult him or make him think that I think he is wrong with his diagnosis because I think I am BOTH, not just bipolar? Is this something I should suggest? My temper is SO quick and sometimes when people are talking to me, I take what they are saying the wrong way and it causes arguments. I cant sit through a whole movie without thinking of other things or twirling my hair or tapping my leg or foot. I honestly feel as though I have both of these disorders after reading a lot online. What do you think? PLEASE HELP!

    1. Hi Misty,

      I’m so sorry you have to figure this out all on your own. Sometimes I feel we are in the Stone Age of mental-health diagnostics.

      To answer your question, YES, absolutely, you can have ADHD and bi-polar. Various studies show the statistics; I excerpt one below.

      Some physicians will say you can’t give a stimulant to someone with bipolar. But it is possible for many patients. The strategy is stabilizing the bi-polar first before adding the stimulant.

      Some friends of mine with ADHD also point out that they have BIG tempers and quick ones. They can misperceive what someone has said, too, and over-react. And definitely with the hair twirling, leg tapping, etc….common with ADHD.

      There are other possibilities, too, such as temporal lobe issues, for the “big” emotions.

      A good book on how thee various co-existing conditions present is Daniel Amen’s book “Healing ADHD.”

      As for not insulting your MD, well, good luck with that. If he hasn’t thought of ADHD already, he might not even know. Sadly, there are some clinician that “see” only one condition (bipolar, ADHD, anxiety, etc.). You might need to see someone else, unless you can convince him to consider it.

      Here’s one study. Print it out for your doc. Also get a list of symptoms for ADHD (the back of my book has the DSM-IV as well as the more accurate proposed criteria by Dr. Russell Barkley and colleagues; unfortunately that didn’t make it into DSM-5); check which ones apply to you and give examples to your doc of how they apply to your life. Data is always good when trying to make a case.

      “Approximately 20% of adults with BD also had ADHD. Patients with BD and ADHD had higher rates of current mixed episodes, lower rates of mania, greater impairment overall, and higher levels of depression. Patients with BD and ADHD also had lower remission rates and higher rates of substance use disorders, and they reported greater levels of familial maladjustment than adults with BP alone.” – [sorry, link no longer available]
      Good luck!!!


  18. I have lived a very chaotic life…ex. molested as a child, alcoholic mother that also has Tourette s (now I’m 31 and taken care of her cancer, and dementia) father abandoned me and got my custody at 15 some back and forth but abuse and neglect where consistent. Well I’ve been diagnosed as major depresion, possible learning disability while in hs.. as an adult quite recently bipolar.. I have a son that has adhd and I thought I might have it but between not being able to keep appointment and forgetting never got around to bring it up to my doc.. I attempted it to read all the diagnosis online I’m pretty smart inspite of all but just can’t keep attention. Its like I’m either really struggling to pay attention or I get lost into something and I can be very passionate or not care enough. Well today while I kind of break down with my primary care dr about my situation and well (she has not dropped me inspite of my many,many missed aappointments) I pleaded for her to talk to my therapist into not giving up on me. I’ve managed to keep my psychiatrist app and have not miss hers in a long time but keep forgetting and I thought this was just because of my stress but well to be honest missing appointments, being late and forgetting isn’t really anything new in my life, and yes some could think given my history of abuse one can think it to be a result from it… I’m doing it again lol the point is thatreading this short thing has sort of opened my eyes, I look forward to dealing with my”short comings” in a more efficient way. I’ve tried alarms agendas but in the end its the last 30 min or so because I can totally loose myself for a few hours doing things..anything thinking it will just take a min, then I’m lost! I completely commit to what’s at hand and all else just fades out of my realm, if I’m lucky I remember the same day and maybe can call and reschedule or apologize but more often than not its hours later, the next day or even a few days later..:( I am not proud or happy that I have or might have it but I
    Most relief I’m not lazy, that I am not careless or dumb. I can be brilliant!! I just don’t have the on and off button but if I could find it, oh boy I can be unstoppable haha maybe just a better mom a caregiver;) thank you!! And if you happen to read this u are not alone.. I didnt go to college I tried and I was straight As but couldn’t keep routine or schedule, and if I was not on I was embarrassed … I was about to do it again its 2:00am and I’m all hyped for finding this after I was reading something else. So gn! Hope other are as happy to find this

    1. Hi Caroline,

      I’m so happy that John’s great piece has been helpful to you.

      I hope that you will ask your MD to help you get a thorough evaluation for ADHD and whatever else might be causing you problems.

      Your intelligence shines, and it deserves careful medical attention so it can shine brighter and more reliably!

      Good luck!

  19. I have been dealing with many different docs since I was a kid. At age 16 (2004) I stopped all meds whatsoever. I started taking medication again in 2011 because it was getting to the point that I was failing out of college, I already served time in the Army and just bad things after that.

    My first diagnosis was just Bi Polar, then another doc said I was Bi Polar and suffered from PTSD (non combat, due to something else happening to me as a kiddo). Then another doc diagnosed me with Insomnia, OCD, Bi Polar, PTSD and ADHD. The next doc stated that I had OCD, PTSD, ADHD, Insomnia, and Cyclothymia.

    My latest doc just told me last week that Cyclothymia is for docs who don’t want to label someone as Bi Polar, and that I actually have Bi Polar. I have tried many drugs and currently now I am on Clonidine and Concerta 0.1mg. Still working on finding the right meds to help with all of the problems.

    1. Hi Aubz,

      Sorry to hear it’s been so hard for you to get a diagnosis. I wish there were a more reliable means of teasing out these variables. Unfortunately, our brains and bodies are too complex for the metrics we have today.

      Sometimes it boils down to the “specialty” of a psychiatrist: some who specialize in bi-polar will see it everywhere, and same with ADHD, depression, etc. What’s harder to find is a psychiatrist with a good, solid, broad knowledge of the various conditions and the various comorbidities.

      Best of luck,

  20. I have a friend/co-worker that I really, really want to help. She has told me she has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder but I feel she is more ADHD than bi-polar and her misdiagnosis is causing problems.

    Here are the syptoms that I observe with her:
    – Constant blurting at her desk about what she is doing, what she is reading, etc.
    – Inability to stay on task and stay focused. She is meant to be filing documents but is suddenly reading an article or funny tidbit someone sent her and then laughing really loud.
    – Inability to filter what she says. Is not able to fit in in a social setting, inappropriate, etc.
    – Constantly losing/misplacing items such as keys, etc.
    – Often late because she just “can’t get it together”.
    – Monopolizes meetings at work with questions/comments that are often about minutiae or obscure situations that don’t often happen. Regardless, at every meeting that she attends, she always asks questions or blurts comments.
    – Sudden loud and often alarming laughter, outburts, etc.
    – Triggers/shifts to anger or annoyance easily.
    – Very cluttered home.
    – Very, very intelligent but inability to focus those attentions in the right direction or keep on task to achieve what she is so capable of achieving.
    – Addiction to cigarettes
    – Addiction to alcohol
    – Previous addiction/use of other substances
    – Somewhat reckless driver
    – Gets easily lost while driving but that’s usually because she is so busy talking, she will miss the turn.
    – Excessive and constant talking
    – Rarely sits still
    – Tried at least at one point to commit suicide
    – Bouts of spending too much/out of control with finances/credit.
    – Loses track of time. At times becomes too focused or something and at others her attention goes “flit, flit, flit, flit, flit!”
    – Often finds herself doing non-work related things at her desk when she is meant to be working. Or she forgets or doesn’t notice her break is over and she is still playing solitaire.
    – She is very distracting to the rest of the office very often throughout the day.

    And to make all of this more evident and extreme to others, she is also hard of hearing and wears hearing aids.

    She has been diagnosed with bi-polar, like I said, but I feel her problem is more ADHD than bipolar. I don’t really she her roller coastering so much as her behavoir routinely being as I list above.

    What can I do to help her?

    1. Hi Ann Marie,

      Whether she has ADHD or bi-polar disorder — or a mix of both — it sounds like whatever avenues she’s pursuing to address the symptoms aren’t helping.

      I agree with you that your list includes plenty of red flags for ADHD.

      If you have a friendship with her, maybe you could delicately broach the topic. If you have ADHD yourself, maybe you could speak from personal experience.

      If you don’t have that kind of friendship, maybe you could leave an informative article on her desk — something to pique her interest.

      What have you tried thus far?


  21. Hi Amber,

    Best of luck sorting it all out. I’m happy to hear you have a kind doctor. That counts for so much…..


  22. All I know that people who have this kind of disorders truly needs sincere support and understanding from their family and other concern organization for the medication and therapies that will improve their condition.

  23. I am so excited finding this site!
    This is my husband ADHD – Bipolar. where does one find a doctor that really knows what they are doing? Has a family doctor and a bag full of meds which none have helped – but mostly due to his own negligence. We are currently seperated due to his crazy over the top anger and vicious verbiage – cuts me to the core and then shreds me.
    He is wanting to get better but still has the mentally of just taking a pill – but I know there is much more than that.
    I want my marriage but not at any cost – but with the right path to a healthy loving as sain as possible relationship.
    Guidance please.
    We live in Fort Worth/Dallas area.
    Thank you all for sharing your lives with me/us, as you may have just saved a life from its own self destruction.

    1. Hi Tina,

      If your husband truly does have ADHD+Bi-polar disorder — and isn’t simply misdiagnosed with one or suffers from something else, such as a head injury– it can be very tricky finding a competent treating physician. Surely, it’s going to require more than the average family doctor.

      You might know there is “much more than taking a pill” to getting better, but if he doesn’t start with the right pill, he might not be able to implement other steps.

      The best guidance I can give you is to educate yourself. You might want to read Dr. Daniel Amen’s book “Healing ADD.” He talks about the overlap with some other conditions, such as bipolar, and which medications might be indicated or contraindicated.

      Good luck,

  24. CandyPerfection

    I have suffered from add since elementary school in the mid 80s. A time when add was rarely heard of or talked about. I was tested for learning disabilities & they concluded that I was a day dreamer and needed to pay more attention. The end. I constantly felt frustrated, but managed to finish high school with average grades. I really wonder if I might have been v-Vic. had I been treated. I excelled working in accounting at a construction company after high school making $40k by 20 years old. I love to learn hands on but cannot by reading. I attended community college after HS while working ft. I compeleted my AAS (2 yr degree) 11 years later with honors. I only took a class or 2 at a time bc its all i could manage sucessfully. I cannot accept less that perfection from myself. I despise Psych who think failure=ADD. People with ADD can force themselves to succeed. Their success comes at higher cost to them! More hours & effort. Reading an assignment many times, breaking it into sections, outlining in a simple version they can process. It spent entire days working on one English assignment & crying over my frustration. My husband had to proofread every paper. I’m notorious for skipping words, misspelling, skipping grammar, & using the wrong version of words (there/they’re/their). I hate it bc it makes me look dumb & I’m far from it. TIP: I was able to explain the story I read to my step-daughter verbally much easier than I could write about it. I really struggled putting it on paper. Have someone be a sound board & help organize thoughts. Then its easier to put it on paper.

    I had my first child at 23 years old & my life fell apart. I suffered from ppd, severe anxiety, depression, and rages. My husband has graciously stood by side & I’m so thankful for that. I went to therapy & took Wellbutrin. After a year I finally felt some relief. I came off the WB to have a 2nd child. I was amazing during my pregnancy. So relaxed & in control. I lost 10lb of body fat (he was a healthy 7.7 lb baby). After his birth, I slowly went down hill feeling fatigued, overwhelmed, unable to lose weight, & unfocused. I went to an D.O. & she ran every test possible. The only result was extremely high inflammation. I then went to a rheumatologist who ruled out auto immunes. I was left with no choice but to accept depression as a diagnosis although I didn’t feel sad. Prozac caused my breast to leak colostrum, so I went back to Wellbutrin. It helped some but I never felt good again. A few years later I was given phentermine for weightloss. Oh my, I slept so good and woke on my own when the sun came up. I was more focused and functioned more like I did in my better days. So I went to a psyc. You have bipolar I they said. Well, here I am two years later. I’ve explored all medications, and had so much cognitive therapy I could teach a class. The dead end has left me feeling doomed in this hell. Yesterday I started a trial of Adderol SR. It was the best day I’ve had in the half of my life. I parented with love & patience. I didn’t feel confused, overwhelmed, or as if my life was beyond my control. It all stopped for a day and I was me! I connected with my children emotionally for the first time in a while. WHY ARE THESE PSYC SO DEAF? After being treated for bpd the add symptoms continued to torture me for years & I had to demand/throw a tantrum for them to treat add after researching it myself! I think this article was DEAD ON in situations like mine.

    1. Candy, you ask “WHY ARE THESE PSYCH SO DEAF”?

      That is an excellent question, because the human costs are so terribly high.

      Thank you for sharing your story.


  25. Hi Gina,

    Thank you so much for your very helpful response. I waited to respond to your comments – wanted to see the psychologist first. When I saw the psychologist yesterday she asked many more probing questions which I welcome. She said she thinks I have ADD with Gen. Anxiety DO which I have read can be a comorbidity of ADD. I can certainly see why this occurs! she said the psychiatrist I am seeing will listen to her comments.

    Thank you for your insight re: Lamictal and great that you know one of the scientists who developed the drug. Hmmm interesting that folks with ADHD can be helped with a small dose of it along with ADHD tx. No ADD meds yet but excercise recommended by psychologist until apptmt 2 weeks from now. Lamictal now at 50 mg am and pm.

    I have to tell you I had a “meltdown” last night while cooking dinner for my mother and husband and I. Things spiraled out of control – could not focus enough to follow the steps calmly to cook three simple dishes at one time – was running back and forth in the kitchen and could not remember what step was next, things kept falling off the countertop during the cooking process. Became so distracted by so many things and so frustrated that similar to Scott’s comments this monster anger exploded from me complete with yelling and stomping of feet etc. My poor husband was so horrified and quiet I felt so sorry for him but could not stop the rage until it was “spent”. This is unacceptable to me and certainly to my poor husband and the lamictal has certainly not helped this monster.

    Hard to believe years ago in school IQ was 138 when I get so distracted and irritable and angry. Looking forward to reading your book – does it deal with the person with ADHD approach as well as the loved ones who have to put up with it?

    Sure hope psychologist and psychiatrist can get together re: treating the ADD. Really do not know how much more my husband (or I) can take of this! I understand that a rational protocol is needed.

    Thank you again and hope you have a good Christmas if you do not have a chance to write before then


    1. Hi Libby,

      It sounds like you are on a better path now, having been understood by your psychologist.

      I’m sorry to hear about the meltdown — for you and your husband.

      I hope you both are seeing that as a sign that your current treatment isn’t working — as “data” — and not as a volitional act.

      Yes, I wrote my book as much for adults with ADHD as their partners. I consider it one of the best guides to comprehensive understanding of ADHD symptoms as well as “late-diagnosis emotional baggage” and knowing how to pursue good treatment strategies. Therapy, medication, etc. It is both a primer and a reference book.

      It is “written to” the partners of adults with ADHD for three reasons:

      1. Before my book, no book explained these Adult ADHD issues to the loved ones and validated their experiences.

      2. I wanted to reach outside of the population that already knew about ADHD to spread the news that “couples troubles” might involve one or both partners having ADHD. Hence the title, “Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?”

      2. It is very cumbersome to find language to address both partners at once. I detest the term “non-ADHD partner” for a whole host of reasons, specifically because sometimes there are TWO adults with ADHD in the relationship. But also, because I find it stupid to define someone by what they are not (as far as we know!).

      So, you can read the reviews on Amazon from the many adults with ADHD who consider it one of the best books on the topic.

      Good luck!

    2. P.S. re: clarifying my comment on Lamictal.

      Even in small doses, it is not considered a “typical” treatment for adults with ADHD.

      But, as you know, ADHD has many “traveling companions,” and sometimes another medication is added to the stimulant to treat the full range of symptoms.

      Sometimes Lamictal helps. Sometimes an SSRI. Sometimes one of the many other choices, depending upon the individual.

      Happy holidays to you!

  26. Hi all. I was diagnosed with ADD by family TP and briefly took a stimulant years ago. It helped me focus and greatly alleviated the constant debilitating anxiety and worry about everything. Cannot remember why I stopped taking it. After retirement a couple of years ago the symptoms are much worse with racing thoughts, and just about all the difficulties described by others with relationships. TP’s over the years rx’d drugs for anxiety and depression but they did not really help.

    At urging of family I finally saw a psychologist who was not sure if I had ADD or bipolar but definitely had a mind ” running like a motor at very high RPM’s”. He said if I told a psychiatrist I was to see that I was on an antidepressant I would not have any trouble getting diagnosed probably with bipolar. Surprise surprise, the psychiatrist diagnosis was bipolar after just a few questions and lamictal was prescribed titratiing up. A “rash” was present at 50 mg am and 50 mg pm actually manifested by huge red wheals with yellow centers, yuk! Called the doc and lamictal was backed down by 25 mg. Now after another increase very large wheals appeared on scalp. Incidentally have been taking Zyrtec every day for months for allergies. Hate to think about the severity of the reaction if I had not been taking the Zyrtec. Also I should state that I have had severe fits of anger and hostility and negative thinking with the lamotrigine. The doc denies these things could be a side effect of the med. I do not agree.

    Meanwhile last week I saw a new psychologist much more familiar with ADD and bipolar. After much in depth questioning and explaining the difference in bipolar mood disorder and ADD she believes I have ADD not bipolar. I agree as the symptoms and signs of ADD have been present since very young childhood and I do not have mood swings lasting weeks or months at a time. The differnces in mood are an immediate reaction to situations, along with zoning out on conversations, being impatient and other ADD symptoms. The new psychologist is with the same large group and plans to talk with the psychiatrist about this being ADD.

    I would welcome coming off the lamotrigine and being treated for the ADD. Comments are welcomed please.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Libby,

      First of all, it’s great that you considered the opinions of your family. Family isn’t always right, but they can often offer important “data” that should at least be considered instead of dismissed out of hand, as too many people do.

      Second, I think you should stick with this new psychologist and see how it benefits you.

      The sad fact is that there are many “fiefdoms” among psychiatric specialties. Some “bi-polar disorder specialists” will never see ADHD. And I suppose the same is true of ADHD specialists, though in my experience I’ve seen them to be more respectful of the possible comorbidities, including bi-polar disorder.

      On a side note, I actually know one of the scientists who developed Lamictal, and he was adamant in that it should be “started low, titrated slowly” — as all psychotropic medications should be but, sadly, often are not.

      It could be that a small dose of Lamictal, along with ADHD treatment, might work well for you. That is the case for many people with ADHD I know.

      But if you do have ADHD, it’s best to follow a rational protocol for its medical treatment, as outlined in my book: Is it You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?

      Good luck and keep us posted!


  27. Hi again Gina and happy thanksgiving!

    I hear you on labels and specialists…and you mentioned sleep specialist! I couldn’t believe it when your book mentioned a link between ADHD, apnea and restless legs. Holy cow that blew me away! Mark me as one of the ones that this happened to. I even had the sleep studies, used a mask and all that… Those sleep issues came out of nowhere…no history. I lost some weight and that seemed to resolve the apnea (mostly) and I think the adderall has helped with the legs and sleep in general.

    I had the same thing happen with ulcerative colitis 9 years ago. Absolutely, no digestive issues and wham! UC. That’s always bothered me. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also a link. I had back surgery two months prior to the UC symptoms and never liked that coincidence. It could have been the weeks of recovery and being ‘useless’ around the house, specifically with a two year old son and not being able to help. I think it put me emotionally ‘out there’ and took it’s toll on my gut.

    The bipolar dx has always seemed a little flimsy. Depression for sure but hypomania and mania not so much… The episodes classified as manic came out of extreme boredom and wanting to have fun like I did in college…
    I’d classify them under ‘stupid’ 😉

    At my next meeting, I plan to ask my psychiatrist about his current opinion on the bipolar dx. Well maybe I won’t. Like you said, it really doesn’t matter the label(s) (and I’m REALLY not big on having or giving them). I’m definitely getting the proper medication now.

    So, yes, I can be marked as one that needed a stimulant to rid myself of horrendous short temper and irritability. Even with all those other powerful mood stabilizer medications, it never went away. As an aside about adhd symptoms, I would get a warning when this evil attitude would rear it’s head. If I was about to say something mean, degrading or totally inappropriate, I would have this very, very brief moment of blackness. It was like the curtains closing for a millisecond. At some point I recognized ‘when’ it was happening. That’s when I ‘could’ use it as a warning in the future. Well…that never happened. Every single time the curtains would close and tell me not to say/do the upcoming action I’d still do it. I’d just override that roadblock and blast right into the person. Ugh…I really don’t like ‘that’ guy.

    As I said, that’s my litmus to know if my adhd is chemically in check. That was the main one for me because my son is 11 and has taken some pointless, meaningless and downright mean verbal abuse. I HAD to get rid of that. It was just so powerful… Now my job is to further learn about the other unwelcomed traits I exhibit and hopefully be the best I can be. My relationship with my son is priority but my girlfriend and I aren’t exactly stable. Root cause….yep ADHD. She has it too and from what I can gather it seems her symptoms are direct opposites of mine. Where I’ve compensated or don’t present, she’s impaired and vice versa. So we kind of push each other’s buttons lol! It might be TMI but we are thankfully both hypersexual so we are fine as long as we keep our mouths shut and stay in the bedroom! ;-D

    I might elaborate on our relationship if I find a blog entry where it’s a bit more pertinent. Once again, I’ve cluttered this one up.
    Thanks for the conversation.

    1. Hey Scott,

      Are you kidding about the clutter? I love comments like yours — honest, thoughtful, and no doubt helpful to other readers.

      Re: your girlfriend also having ADHD. I’m always pointing out that people with ADHD are not clones, that there are many “angles” to ADHD, not to mention the rest of an individual’s personality and background. And never is the “not clones” aspect more true than when two people with ADHD are in a relationship. Then you can see how really different the manifestations can be.

      As for the hypersexual part….nothing anyone says can shock me now; it’s been 13 years of hearing hundreds of intimate stories. 🙂

      I do know one “dual hypersexual” couple with ADHD. They found themselves in bankruptcy, because they were minding the bedroom more than the checkbook. 😉 But hey, many other people with ADHD are assexual, or they grow bored with the same partner after a few months. So, sounds like you’re lucky in that particular match-up department. 😉

      That “moment of blackness” is so interesting. I think I’ve seen that on some individuals’ faces, right before. The eyes go a bit flat and then steely-scary.

      The important thing is to notice this and view it as “data” — not a moral judgment. Something you can change. Many people don’t know this, or can’t understand that this is possible. So, give yourself credit for persevering and not accepting status quo.

      I write another blog, as a volunteer service for CHADD (the national nonprofit for ADHD). It’s monthly, and focuses on couples issues. By that I mean, ADHD issues as they can affect adult relationships — sex, listening, money, sleep, and more.

      take care,

  28. Hi Gina,
    Yes, I was on mood stabilizers before the adderall. I actually was highly independent and didn’t want to be on meds. 10 years ago I got put on prozac and for many years thereafter said ‘every thing is fine’ ….
    finally, I opened up a little and said everything wasn’t fine so we added some lamictal. Better, but I still didn’t unfold the whole mess. I was still holding on to the notion that i really didn’t need meds.

    A pretty good binge of partying (months, alcohol) ended with a DWI. It was then that I FINALLY gave the shrink the full info. Oops, not all yet 😉
    he increased the lamictal and it helped a lot with the depression and anger. It took many more months before I finally said wth and typed it all out….I spelled anything and everything that might be of use to him. So, he added abilify and I was so much better.

    BUT, that irritability, short temper MEAN guy kept showing up.
    That’s when I sought out the psychologist.
    In a way, I’m a bit mad that the psychiatrist didn’t find it. I had been with him for 7 years…..

    As I said, I just got the RIGHT dx 4 months ago. I’m 40!!!! and my wife and I split 4 years ago.I’m just now realizing the crap I dredged her threw. I mean I knew about the ‘big’ parts but reading your book, I’m seeing all the little, constant, unending hell…..

    Well I sidetracked a bit there but I think it was pertinent…

    I have to take notes on these kinds of things and the first book I read after the dx was Dr. Brown’s book ‘Taking Charge of Adult ADHD’

    What you said is interesting to what I typed in my notes:
    “I had the stereotypical understanding of ADHD as an inattentive learning disorder which isn’t me.
    So far the part that I relate to the most is the emotional dysregulation. My short temper, irritation and impatience…Amygdala hijack.”

    Also I had this:
    “Self Regulation of emotions: Biggest area of impairment. Impulsive emotional reactions.Can’t put on the brakes. exaggerated emotions that’s not keeping with the situation. that can make social situations difficult for me. They effect my ability to get things done. Short temper, irritable, impatient. Sensitive. Unfairness”

    I have a better understanding of how complex ADHD sypmtoms can be or not be or morph and intertwine. For me, this dysregulation of emotions IS the main one. I believe all my other stuff branches from it. It’s my litmus test for whether or not the medication is therapeutic or not.
    I know that monster….I’ve longed to be rid of him…
    It’s been quite the eye opener to find out there was many more tendrils to this monstrosity than I ever knew.
    I’m just thankful that I found the heart of it and a way to quell it’s horrific ability to manifest.

    I’ll admit that now I’m curious about the bipolar dx and all those meds. Of course I’m not going to drop them because I’m doing so well. However, I do wonder if I would have started with a ADHD dx ten years ago would I have ended up with a bipolar dx and be on all these meds.

    Sorry for prattling on….

    1. Hi Scott,

      No need to apologize for “prattling on.” I have every confidence that someone, sometime, will read your comment and a light bulb will go off in his or her head. It happens all the time!

      You know, one thing I’ve learned since falling into “ADHD+ World” is that the psychiatric labels can be very iffy.

      I’ve learned that many specialists operate in a “stove pipe” mentality. That is, the bi-polar specialists will often dismiss ADHD in order to claim more territory for bi-polar. Same with the sleep specialists. The “educational specialists.” The audiologists. Good grief….the list goes on and on. In part it has to do with the nature of specialties (“deep and narrow”), but it can also spring from the competition for grants, pharma targets, etc.

      So, I encourage people to focus less on labels and more on their symptoms, especially what RX makes things worse/better. It often involves lots of experimentation — hopefully, in the hands of a physician who carefully monitors the situation.

      Example: A few years ago, my husband used to habitually clear his throat. It was truly loud and obnoxious — not just to me but to his co-workers. He was convinced it was due to post-nasal drip. From talking to other adults with ADHD, I’ve learned they had a similar “tic” and thus were diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. That put them on an entirely different treatment track, typically with neurologists — and often not as successful as my husband’s treatment track. He was never diagnosed with Tourettes but his “tic” has resolved with comprehensive medical treatment for ADHD.

      So, I am with you in wondering what if a physician had picked up your ADHD dx ten years ago. Who knows, though. The medication options for ADHD weren’t as sophisticated then as they are today. And they might have exacerbated your problems, thus turning you off from the idea of ADHD forever. Also, medications such as Lamictal are commonly used for people with ADHD — in smaller doses than is generally considered therapeutic for the Rx originally (so-called “off-label” uses).

      In short, it’s kind of the Wild West! Best to pay attention, remain skeptical, and keep learning!


      P.S. I like Tom Brown’s book, too. And I enjoy his lectures. He is one of my favorite ADHD experts, though not as well known among the public because he is not as self-promotional as some whose knowledge is inferior to his. That’s the way it goes, unfortunately.

    2. Wow. Took words right out my mouth. I wrote everything you said down so maybe my family will take a moment to understand me so that I don’t keep feeling (MIS UNDERSTOOD) which they day..I know..I know, u just need to calm down, u need to snap out of it..etc. I HV given my husband and my mother books to read on bi_polar 1, as he, OCD, depression…how I am alive today are by listening to people that share and care. No one has ever read my books but maybe one paragraph and then continue to repeat…u r acting crazy…it’s time to see the Dr. I see, oh quit talking so much, so fast, oh r u okay maybe u should go to the hospital again. I always say (IF U WOULD PUT UR I PAD,,I.POD, WHATEVER DOWN AND DROP THE STUPID GAMES U PLAY 24-7 AND READ ABOUT HOW HARD EVRY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE IS MISERABLE, THEN MAYBE U COULD UNDERSTAND. But I guess it is easier to say…u HV problems, u r mentally ill, u act crazy, r u going to call 911 again and take all UR meds. If I had family to help w triggers, understand panic attacks, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, depression, bi-polar and not just say all the negative oh…you are going to be one of those (PEOPLE) that never leave there house. ( cause I barely ever do) oh and my mom always throws in (when I can’t attend somewhere,,,oh of course u r sick again….(yeah sick of them) I do play sick and lie about anything I can not to go. Panic-anxiety is just distressing. As u can see I talk very fast and never shut up, I get on my husband’s nerves so bad, don’t know what to do about that…other than it is what it is and if u can’t support and love me, then I will miss you. Like it or leave it….my motto. Being alone 24-7 no one to talk to and he gets mad cause I talk so much. .. I want to say……READ THE F ……BOOK. I STORE SO MANY THOUGHTS in my head in 12 hrs and he comes home and I like to free my spinning brain. I am embarrassed that I wrote so much hand got. Off the subject of UR post. U give people hope and by u we are not..Misunderstood. I HV to ‘re read UR post again..I forget what my post to u was going to be and I HV rambled on forever. This is my first reply I HV ever done. Hvnt been to is my 2 days of the week I don’t sleep and most times it is 2 days and couple more days I will and then two more all nighters again. Can u see I like to talk, just no one to talk to. I am fixing to ‘re read my notes,…word for word I took from UR post. I feel this was all about me and that was selfish of me. Thanks for the list it changes the way I think and hopeful. If u evervreplybit won’t be all about me. Thanks

    3. HI Lisa,

      Sometimes the first step to healing is being heard. I hear you. Take care, Gina

  29. My psychiatrist has had me somewhere on the bipolar spectrum for a couple of years now. The medications definitely improved my mood. However, there was still the irritable short temper that never went away (among other symptoms I’m just now learning about).

    I needed more definitive information so after spending some time with a psychologist she diagnosed me with ADHD 4 months ago. The stimulant medication completely obliterated all symptoms of the irritability, impatience and short temper. It also improved my mood.

    Based on what I’m learning from this book and others, ADHD is hands down the winner 😉 Ok, I say that meaning if I had to diagnose myself and choose just one it would be ADHD.

    Yes, I have had some pretty outrageous behavior that could be attributed to bipolar but I have no idea if they would have occurred if I was medicated with a stimulant.

    I guess it seems to me that the response to a stimulant should be a pretty good indicator??? If it gets you high or manic, etc. then wouldn’t you ‘not’ have ADHD? Isn’t that really a tell tale sign?

    1. Hi Scott,

      Good for you, for persevering until you found better results. And sure, I’d agree with you, in general, that a positive response to a stimulant is a pretty good indicator that you have it. When someone has bipolar disorder and ADHD, however, it’s trickier. Sometimes a mood-stabilizer must be on board before the stimulant is added — otherwise it could potentially exacerbate mania.

      Speaking of anger, irritability, ADHD, and bi-polar disorder….

      When I started being an advocate for Adult ADHD, more than 12 years ago, I was observing lots of irritability and anger issues among adults with ADHD – and hearing similar reports from their partners. When I’d ask ADHD-specializing psychiatrists and psychologists about it, they’d insist those characteristics really pointed more to bi-polar.

      In fact, when some people with ADHD were given Adderall and experienced intensified anger (this observation became so common to me that I coined term “Madderal”), these same experts said the Adderall was “unmasking” the bi-polar. Huh? What?

      I kept asking questions, gathering data, and drawing my own conclusions. It made no sense to me that people manifested alleged bi-polar traits only after taking an amphetamine-class stimulant. Where was the logic?

      My book was one of the first popular titles on Adult ADHD to emphasize that ADHD in fact can be associated with a greater degree of frustration and irritability — sometimes born of frustration (living with untreated/unrecognized ADHD can be very frustrating!) but also neurobiologically based. Including poor self-regulation of emotions. (Poor self-regulation being the phrase that describes global ADHD challenges.) And to be on the alert for the misdiagnosis of bi-polar.

      Recently, Dr. Barkley has been talking about ADHD and emotional dysregulation, and he is one of the most respected true ADHD experts. So, I’m happy to see that my instincts were right, and the alleged ADHD experts opining years ago couldn’t have bee more wrong.

    2. Elizabeth Aguilar

      Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to write
      about your experience/battle. It was like de ja vue.
      I’ve been treated for BPD 2 for 11 years. I never have much
      improvement. I have addiction issues, and
      Dr.s.hate when I tell them how much Marijuana helps.
      My point is I see AD/HD symptoms since childhood.
      I called and asked for a new Dr. today. I’m fighting
      For my health. I want to function…like I used to.
      Thank you so much

    3. Thank you for taking time to comment, Elizabeth.

      Your doctors should listen to you when you say that marijuana helps, not because it is necessarily the best avenue for you (marijuana is associated with decreased motivation and working memory, hardly something that people with ADHD want to exacerbate) but because it tells them about what’s going on with you, perhaps anxiety that needs addressing.

      Good luck!

    4. Liz, I’m glad it helped and I hope you find peace with your new doctor.
      I know what it’s like not to have peace…..
      I’m still on adderall. I take it twice a day without considering what it is.
      It’s just another pill in my regiment.
      It’s just part of my daily routine like brushing my teeth.
      It’s helped in many areas but for me it’s mainly the short temper is gone.
      That alone has caused more strife in my life than I could ever write down….
      I’ve read a bit about marijuana and adhd and it’s not really a simple matter.
      As a medicine it’s a complicated plant that has two main strains of Indica or Sativa. I like to think of all things as chemicals. Eating a strawberry may mean nothing to most but is an acute attack on someone whose allergic.
      Adderall might not work but vyanse might, etc. etc.
      As far as I know, the marijuana strains have very different effects and there are different amounts and ratios of cannabanoids.
      These effects will differ from person to person but like most pharma generalizations can be made.
      The sativa strains are more up beat and have been said to work well with those that respond to stimulants. On the other hand, I read that indicas help people more but that could be if they are more hyperactive type.
      You possibly could be having a benefit from marijuana because of the type it is and how your body’s chemical makeup is.
      As Gina said, I would inform your doctor about it even if it feels a little like your are letting your guard down.
      I would take the info and do some research on why the marijuana might help you respond better. I’m sure i just scratched the surface with what I wrote above. In your shoes, I would find out more and see if there is a
      ‘legal’ similarity.
      If your doctor totally refuses to utilize your information because it’s ‘weed’ and not official or legal then I’d move along to another. It’s a bread crumb that may help you to better health.

    5. Dennis Michael Smith

      I have a like predicament. I have one provider consider me “bi-polar” while I believe the facts more indicate ADHD.

  30. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 18 years old, and bi-polar disorder at the age of 20. I was medicated for a short while, however, I never took either of the diagnosis’ seriously until now, at the age of 22. It is extremely hard when I reach the point in life where I can look back and see how much I could have done better at had I taken my diagnosis seriously. I have transfered to 3 colleges, in 3 states across the country. I cannot sit still, ever. And now have lost health insurance in the middle of my 1st semester back in college. I have always been labled as smart by all my professors, friends, and family, but have also been nicknamed as “CantGetRight” representing the fact that I have so much potential, and just cant get things right. ADHD and Bi-polar disorder is an everyday struggle. I attempt and fail at many things, over and over and over again. I am fully aware when it is happening but for this reason feel completely unable to stop it. When I have medicine this trend is not as severe, however, it is always present. I know that I am a smart young lady, often times scoring very high on exams, and in the very superior level on assessments, but this is not reflected in my schoolwork, or anywhere where it matters. Life is so hard, I just do not know how to cope and it seems as though the easiest thing to do is to give up…

    1. Hi Lulu,

      It probably is no consolation to know that many adults find out they have ADHD at an older age than you did– and wait much longer to “do something” about it.

      So, give yourself a pat on the back for getting on board with ADHD treatmnent and know that it can take a while to find the right medication and strategies for you.

      Always keep trying to improve. Bit by bit. Your diet. Your sleep. Your exercise. And keep learning about your medication options. Many physicians are selling short their patients with ADHD.

      Hang in there.

    2. CandyPerfection

      ADD/BPD cannot take the chance to succeed away from you. It will just come at a higher cost to you. Don’t give up. It took me 11 yrs to complete a 2 yr AAS, but I did and I did it with honors. I worked ft & only took 1/2 classes at a time. I struggle with reading & writing, apparently organizing a paper per 1 professor, and had to read stuff repeatedly to teach myself when I didnt pay attention in lectures.

      A few tips:

      Have someone be a soundboard before you sit down to write an essay, etc. I found it much easier to express my thoughts and answer questions verbally to someone listening. I used my 13 yr old daughter during English II. It was the worst for me bc it was analyzing poetry and old stories. It was best that I explained to her what the story was about, jot down my conclusions as I talked, then sit down & write the paper.

      Break down reading assignments. Read 1 small paragraph & write down a sentence summing it up. Sometimes you may only need a note like Inflation=^ prices.

      I didnt realize I processed information best this way until my last semester or two. Hope it hps you.

    3. ken campbell a 58 yr old with a.d.h.d and severe bipolor 1 disorder .I was diagnosed at 11 with adhd.and about 15 yrs. Ago bipolor 1. I have been hospitalized about 10 times for duel diagnosis.and they tried different combinations of drugs only working for short periods of time.currently attending David Lawence center in naples. And im now starting to stablize on 400 mg.seriquil xr.1 x day .100 mgs. Seriquil 2x day.and remeron 15 night. And that just slows me down. I sleep about 4-6 hrs. And now finally can get thru the day.but not every day .I have good days and bad but I dont get to choose the day.sometimes the meds work other times I start racing and then go manic. Dr.halztman calls me ” the super energizer bunny ” ON STERIODS…this is the wost roller coaster that there is in existance. And only recieve about $ 700 a month s.s.i. I am super man one minuite and allmost suicidle the next. Thanks for reading my story.ken campbell..

    4. Ken, I hope your good days soon outnumber your bad. Congratulations on figuring all this out and getting help. That’s a real survivor’s tale.


    5. U go girl. Wish I could handle it like u have. U r strong and stay that way. U r blessed to be able to actually function. Good for u! Hurray

    6. Dennis Michael Smith

      I understand your predicament. You could have been me thirty five years ago, except I didn’t know that I was not only ADHD but also chronically depressed at a “mild” level. It has only been recently, when recalling things occurring even before college age when my Dad recently fell ill and died that I did the research which allowed me to arrive at my conclusion. It has been both relieving and haunting. Haunting because it rehashes things which were so simple that I didn’t have the self-esteem to do–like ask a girl out for a date or seek and succeed in many jobs and schools. I haven’t been a total failure in life but have fallen so short compared to what I had hoped to do. It has been reliving because at least I have a logical explanation for my shortcomings. Currently I am trying to get proper treatment to work through it. Don’t you give up–keep trying and it is good you realize it at a young age.

    7. I am 24 years old trying to finish a 2 year diploma program. I did 3 years at university and decided it wasn’t my passion so I left before finishing my final year. I realized I have no commitment in my life. I work part time at a very flexible job while I study. I have lived in my current apartment for 5 years on a month-to-month never ending lease ( I can stay for forever I wanted to), I don’t use my credit cards and just pay debit or cash, I can’t make up my mind about anything, ever – from small things like nail polish colour to big things like school. Recently I have recognized that I feel very up and down. I have been reading up a little bit on bipolar disorder and am nervous because I know there is something ‘wrong’ with me and I want to get better. I have a great life and am happy but I just know that I am not the most ‘stable’ in terms of mood. My family and friends are very supportive of me and I would definitely not be as okay as I am without them. They have learned to deal with my emotions, mainly a happy shining young lady (80%) or an angry mean cruel human (5%) or a nonexistent ghost – the times I get sad when I cut everyone off from a day to a week and no one hears from me(15%). A few moths ago when I was experiencing a really down day, I made a video because I felt like too much of a constant burden on those people I care about. I just talked and tried to express my thoughts and clear my mind. By the end of it, those extremely sad burdensome feelings lifted and I felt a ‘normal’ sad (I could still get out of bed and function regularly, just wasn’t as talkative and smiley). I am a nursing student and I do not want to get an official diagnosis for what I believe to be some kind of mood disorder. I have been researching as much as I can, and I know it is mandatory in some places to disclose medical information, including mental health, to the Nursing Organization in your area. From what I can find it is not mandatory where I live, but I still want to seek treatment. I want to get help and better learn to control myself and not give in to my negative emotions, which will surely change in a short time.

      I am also at the stage in my life where I have a serious boyfriend who wants to move to the next stage, but says he just wants things to be stable for some time. (When I get in my moods I get angry and mean or just feel like I can’t get out of bed). He is the one who is always with me and helps me out, calms me and takes care of me when I will not care for myself. I also am thinking about having children in the future and I know I would absolutely not be able to be the best mom to them when I have my negative or angry times.

      The past few months I have been more more self aware. I can recognize when I am starting to feel sad or angry. When that happens I try to be as consistent as possible and not cancel plans or make any changes to my schedule. I try to push through and continue on because it always happens that I feel better again. By continuing life as normal, it has been improving my life, because each sad or angry ‘episode/phase’ doesn’t affect the rest of my good times. I used to call in sick to work, not talk to anyone, not go to class – and I still sometimes do those things – but the amount of time I do that, and the duration I feel sad has decreased.

      I am sure I will always be like this, and I an accept that, but I just want to know how to deal with it. For the past few days I have started taking a friends prescription of adderall, just one a day in the morning on days I have school or I have to study, and I have found that it really helps me excel. I already have the ability to do well in life, including school, by just trying to be consistent, but adderall just helps me become more alert. As far as I can tell, I don’t get a high from it. I have tried some recreational drugs a few times just to try, but it is not like that or even marijuana. I feel completely sober and just a ‘clean’ feeling. I also notice when I take it my sad days are fewer and less extreme (its only been a few days but I feel an elevated mood, like I am at my peak). I don’t know if this is because of the extra energy provided or if I may have adhd. Either way I don’t want to continue to take medication to be consistently ‘normal’.

      For anyone here that may be able to relate to how I feel, did taking medication actually help? Do you still have the highs, lows and/or emotional instabiltiy? Should I continue to self regulate and just embrace my emotions? As a nursing student I understand that mental health is real and problems can be ‘solved’. But to anyone actually experiencing this or anything similar can it really be helped? I don’t have a therapist. I have a really good network of people around me, Is this enough? Before medication or at a time when you may have stopped did your emotions heighten?

      Sometimes I feel like it is okay to be like this. I feel like the times I am sad or ‘normal’ provide me the opportunity to be a thoughtful person. I deeply care about others and want to help as much as I can. I don’t know if I didnt have all these emotions and ‘passion’ if I would care as much. The excess emotions I carry give me the gift of understanding, which guides my life.

      I have never posted anything like this before but theres only so much my friends and family can do. I need to speak with people who feel the same/similar and understand and can explain how they feel and what they do to ‘get better’, ‘live normally’, and feel stable.

      I just want to know that when I have kids I can get out of bed everyday. I don’t want to feel how I feel on my sad days and not be able to provide my kids with a great life and mother.

      Thank you for reading

  31. The articles seem to come from the point of view of definitely Bipolar with a little bit of ADD, but what about definitely ADD with a little bit of Bipolar, or is that even likely/possible?

    1. Hi Jessi,

      Yes, of course that’s possible — “definitely ADD with a little bit of bipolar.”

      When it comes to the most complex of human organs, the brain, anything is possible.

      If you and your care providers are having trouble teasing out the “labels,” it might be best to delve deeper than labels and explore your individual neurochemistry. One way to do that is via a test that measures biomarkers for neurotransmitters. You take the test at home, filling little containers with saliva and urine and mailing it off to the lab.

      Insurance mostly covers this testing (when my husband and I took it, it was $400, with our insurance covering 75%). And you discuss the results with a trained clinician by phone. My friend and colleague Dr. Parker is an expert in interpreting these results — and in making recommendations based on your other reported issues.

      I also encourage you to read Dr. Parker’s book on “Paying Attention to the Meds for Paying Attention.” Info at his website.

      FYI — I have no business interests with either the lab or Dr. Parker.

      Good luck!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

[advertising; not endorsement]
[advertising; not endorsement]
Stay in Touch!
Ride the ADHD Roller Coaster
Without Getting Whiplash!
Receive Gina Pera's award-winning blog posts and news of webinars and workshops.
P.S. Your time and privacy—Respected.
No e-mail bombardment—Promised.
No Thanks!