One of the rather annoying things with Bipolar is that it comorbid with any number of other mental illnesses. I refer to these as the Uncaring Cousins, ’cause hey, child of the 80s who loved the Care Bears and Care Cousins. Common comorbidities include ADHD, OCD, panic and anxiety disorders, and all sorts of other things. Myself, I very much have OCD, ADHD, and anxiety issues to deal with… not that anyone has ever officially diagnosed those.
I’m sure some people snort and roll their eyes at that and mutter under their breath about special snowflakes. Okay, but here’s the thing. Mentally ill people, as part of their treatment regime, are highly recommended to track the ever-loving shit out of mood, actions and patterns of behaviors. We often have to be our own advocates, and in that, we are paying attention to things and gasp, become rather expert in our own situations. I’ve read enough about OCD and ADHD from blogs, articles, and medical papers to know that I have both of these things without an official diagnosis. And really, diagnosis is not an exact science. There is no blood test for these things — psychiatrists are having to take what we can tell them and make an educated guess based on *gasp* observation and guidelines. Me, being the expert on me, can similarly make an educated guess, and likewise have had to present this and my main diagnosis as a theory based on my own observations for a professional to basically sign off on.
Mind, the head psychiatrist at my hospital has expressed repeatedly that he wants me to focus on treating the bipolar first. This is fair enough, especially since the OCD isn’t exactly treatable by anything past what we’re already doing (medication would be antidepressants, which I’m already on). The ADHD is the annoying-to-me booger. The NHS doesn’t like to admit that adults have ADHD, and as I was not diagnosed as a child, I’ve not had any luck getting diagnosed — I did managed to get a referral for such, but it got shot down above my doctors’ heads.
Even if I DID have that diagnosis, there is no guarantee I could get meds/treatment for it. One of my best friends WAS diagnosed as a child before immigrating to the UK, and even with that diagnosis in hand, her GP can’t give her anything. He can for undiagnosed bipolar treatment, but not diagnosed ADHD! Really, at times I’m tempted to consider the black market of the intarwebs to get my hands on some dexedrine, ’cause I know it helps me a loooot compliments of a helpful friend in high school who shared his or her meds, but I prefer to stay above board.
Then of course, there’s the wondering if I want too much. I am so much better than I was before diagnosis and treatment, but I would like to feel even better. And I don’t mean that in a glowing hypomania sort of way, but just… not having to spend ANY time in tiny rituals to dispel anxiety. To actually have some focus and energy; while some of my lack in this regard is due to chronic fatigue, I know it’s not the entire cause.
Whatever the case, the knowing what’s up, whether it be ‘official’ or not, gives me the tools to try and cope with it within my means. I combat ADHD with tiny lists and a hefty dose of behavioral awareness. I try to keep productive things to hand so that when my mind wanders, I’m doing something good like a chore, or knitting, or working on different bits of writing (I’m knitting right now and tending to the baby between writing this in snippets). The OCD I will probably bring up again with my psychiatrist because I feel like it’s starting to eat more of my time. We’ll see. It’s only a real nuisance in that once I start doing a thing, it tends to become a permanent fixture.
Hope everyone is doing well out there.