Bipolar Disorder, Creativity and ADHD

Bipolar Disorder often takes too long to be recognized and diagnosed, or it is often misdiagnosed as something else. ADHD is one of the disorders people with BPD are often misdiagnosed as having.

Another aspect of BPD frequently discussed is its connection to creativity and/or outside-the-box thinking. It is now believed and in many cases known, that some of human history’s most innovative and creative people in almost all fields, as well as all realms of art had BPD.

When looking at some of the characteristics of my hypomanic symptoms I can clearly see aspects of ADHD: inability to stay focused on one task at a time, impulsive behavior, inability to sit still and the list goes on and on.

For me, it’s like the floodgates open and ideas and thoughts just barrage my brain at a constant pace. If I am not reading or doing something that is actively using my brain, I get antsy.

Believe me when I tell you, and many others can attest, this is not as cool as it sounds. Imagine a person’s mind or thought processes as a horse for riding. Many people trot along at a steady pace, staying clearly on the trail and following all the signs guiding them along. The Bipolar mind, however, is a bucking bronco, wild and racing across a vast open field. He jolts around, reveling in the freedom but without direction. The BPD horses’ rider has forgotten his glasses at home and, unable to read any signs, has no idea how to guide his horse back to the path.

I do get hit with an array of great ideas and creative solutions to problems when I am hypomanic. But it is an endless deluge of ideas. Concepts from the utterly mundane, to the familiar grandiose or grand scheme ideas. If I had an argument or discussion with someone anywhere from hours to years ago, suddenly 20 discussion points or arguments for that conversation pop into my head. Or, I will suddenly discover the correct answer to an ACT test question I couldn’t answer (I took the ACT in 1998). Sometimes I find the perfect solution to the traffic flow problem in my church when parents pick up their kids from religious education. I especially like suddenly realizing that the third sentence in the last page of my 12 page essay on I Heard the Owl Cry My Name for my Freshman Lit class in college was a run-on sentence.

My main problem during depression that seems to be a common one, is not that the characteristic disappears but that the focus changes. All the semi-racing thoughts happen to dwell on the negative end of the thought spectrum.

All my mistakes and bad choices pop back into my mind as if they happened minutes previously. I am flooded with the same emotions I was feeling during each bad experience and I become emotionally and physically overwhelmed. This is often the most intense in the days just after a hypomanic episode. My mind and body crash from the mental and physical toll constantly running for days does to it.

I am currently reading a book that deals with harnessing these hypomanic periods and using them for good. Bipolar Breakthrough: the Essential Guide to Going Beyond Moodswings to Harness Your Highs, Escape the Cycles of Recurrent Depression, and Thrive with Bipolar II by Dr. Ronald R. Fieve has been a fascinating read so far. He even has 10+ categories or further classifications of Bipolar II. I would definitely recommend it.

Anyone else have another way of looking at Bipolar? How do you struggle? Questions or comments?

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