5 thoughts on “Which Came first Bipolar or Dyslexia?

  • August 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Great article Chato!
    I love the way your father handled your diagnosis, in my opinion repeatedly telling a child they are disabled becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Going the entire opposite direction and allowing you to try things without the expectation of failure is an amazing idea. Also, awesome drawing. I wish it was more MSpainty but its legit nonetheless.

  • August 13, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Well, Dyslexia and Bipolar Disorder are two VERY different things. One is a mood disorder, characterized by great swings in mood and often psychosis. Mood-stabilizers, antipsychotics, and other powerful psychotropic medications are used to treat bipolar disorder (therapy as well). Dyslexia, on the other hand, is a learning disorder, which has completely different symptoms and treatments. ADHD can often look like childhood bipolar disorder, because both are characterized by sleep disturbances, mood liability, and periods of hyperactivity or distractibility, but an experienced mental health professional should be able to tell the difference after a thorough assessment. (not to say that there aren’t people with both ADHD AND Bipolar Disorder).

    I haven’t read any research suggesting that Dyslexia is more common in people with Bipolar disorder or known any kids with both afflictions. However, there could be a link. Dyslexia causes an enormous amount of stress on the child, especially when the parents and teachers are not understanding and proper interventions do not occur. Like in your case. Chronic, severe Stress is a risk factor for the development of Bipolar Disorder, as well as other disorders like schizophrenia and Depression. So, I can see that having a learning disorder could put someone at risk for Bipolar Disorder later on.

    Additionally, a child with an undiagnosed or improperly treated learning disorder may act out, get very frustrated and upset and have trouble sleeping because of the stress of having a go to school day after day and be ridiculed, picked on, and tormented by teachers, classmates and even parents. Because their symptoms may look like Bipolar Disorder, a careless doctor could diagnose childhood bipolar disorder! When really, the child has a learning disorder. All the more reason to insist on seeing a competent mental health professional and do a thorough assessment.

  • August 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I was diagnosed with major depression (with atypical features) when I was 16, bipolar when I was 20, and ADHD and social anxiety at 30. But I just quizzed my mother about early symptoms I was remembering in therapy sessions, and she says I was distressingly loud-mouthed (and unable to tone it down without continual reminders) and “air headed” (compared with classmates and my siblings) at age 5 – I am increasingly confident that I had ADHD long before I had anything else. I was a girl, and didn’t tend to act out in class, but I was highly stressed both due to school stuff and family stuff and had a lot of withdrawal type problems. I was having trouble sleeping and eating, and in therapy on and off, by age 8. The behaviors (sleeping constantly, low affect, massive weight gain) that finally got me my depression diagnosis started when I was 12.

    Dyslexia, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and ADHD (and subclinical symptoms consistent with those diseases) run rampant on both sides of my family (as does high intelligence – I scored in the 150s on the WISC-R and I have an aunt who got a perfect SAT score back when that was really hard to do.) It all certainly looks related to me.

  • October 14, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Hi. I have a nephew (Scott) with “symptoms” similar to yours. When you wrote:

    “As for learning, well that diagnosis was correct. I had a very hard time comprehending what I read. However, if I heard it, I would retain it. It’s true – I made it through grade school to high school without ever reading one book from cover to cover. Yet, I scored high on many of the tests on books I did not read. Why? Because I listened when we reviewed them in class and extrapolated the rest of the story in my imagination.”

    …it sounds exactly like Scott. His IQ is very high, and yet he despised school, which I did not understand at the time but now understand was due to a reading disorder which I guess falls under the big umbrella term “dyslexia”. It is just as you describe it – he could not comprehend what he was reading, but could understand perfectly and retain what he heard. To compensate, he would sometimes read aloud so he could hear the words. (He does not have the letter/number reversal that most people think of when they hear the term “dyslexia”.)

    In addition, he has all the characteristics of someone with “mixed anxiety depressive disorder”. He has been diagnosed as bipolar, but it too is an umbrella term. I think bipolar is the wrong diagnosis, because it implies “manic” highs which he never has. I very much believe his dyslexia, and his apparent mental illness issues are related. (I suppose it’s possible to have a cold and a toothache at the same time without them being caused by the same thing, but I have a theory…)

    I am currently reading “Of Two Minds”, a book by Fredric Schiffer. My theory (hope?) is that Scott’s condition(s) can be explained by faulty switching between the two hemispheres of the brain. I’m conjecturing that he is right brain dominant, and that his left brain is somewhat underdeveloped (or is just not synchronized with his right brain in an optimal way, or something along those lines). The underdevelopment of his left brain could theoretically account for his difficulty comprehending written words. And… the book “Of Two Minds” seems to imply (I’ve just started it) that some mental illnesses (particularly anxiety and depression) have related (causation?) left brain vs. right brain chemistry (wiring?) problems. So I’m looking for evidence of a singular brain malfunction that would tie these two things together. Are there any known syndromes/diseases/etc. that would explain this?

    [Warning: This is all guess work on my part. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on t.v. I’m just surfing the web and trying to connect dots. The similarity of what you wrote and what my nephew has experienced seemed like dots worth examining in closer detail.]

    So…I’m wondering if any of this resonates with you. I’ve tried desperately for years to help my nephew, and can’t honestly say that I’ve gotten anywhere. He’s now 30, is unable to work, and is losing hope on ever having a normal life. I wish you the best in your quest for answers.

    • October 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Concerned Uncle , I don’t really prescribe to any one philosophy on the diagnosis or treatment of dyslexia all i know is what worked for me. That was the ablitty to except my failure only as a stepping stone to success. The more I failed the more I learned until I got it right. Reading still is a struggle for me and writing is by a gift of the gods called “spell-check!.
      While I now my limitation I don’t accept them and I’m always pushing the bounties.

      What works well for me is learning visually and audible and to have a interest is what I doing. If it can hold my attention then it will not get done. That being said I would ask what your nephew enjoys and build around that…

      I hope this helps.



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