When you were young, did you have symptoms?

When you were young, did you have manic symptoms? Or did you just struggle with depression and rages? Did the mania show up much later in the disease compared to other symptoms?


Wow, I suppose it depends on HOW young we are talking. I think I’ve shown signs of bipolar since I was very young. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 6, so could that have been mania instead? Possibly. I think I struggled more with depression however. I can remember many times retreating to the comfort of a corner in our bathroom. The sadder/madder I became the more likely I could be found sitting atop our laundry chute. It was tiny and comforting and I was well hidden from the world.

I remember often being told I was the child who “never stopped smiling.” ¬†Though that may have been true on the outside, it was merely a coping mechanism for what was going on in the inside. I had the worst time keeping friends from an early age. I always worried people didn’t really like me, and whether they did or not will always be questionable because I assumed they didn’t.

I’ve locked myself in closets, bathrooms, bedrooms, any tiny space I could find where I could sit and cry or gather my thoughts, no matter how unpleasant they may have been. When I hit adolescence it took off like no other. What was thought to be hormones was really spiraling depression. But at the time, nobody knew about these things. It was unheard of! Children didn’t get depressed!

I did.

As for mania, I’ve never really experienced full blown mania, but I can definitely think of times where I was overcome with surges of hypomania. Days where I would throw (ok maybe gently place) every item from my bedroom into the hallway because I just HAD to rearrange the entire room. It wasn’t good enough anymore. I’d literally spend hours making it perfect. And that’s only one example. I’m sure there are MANY more.

I could be wrong, but I think most of us with bipolar disorder, even if we weren’t diagnosed until adulthood, can remember experiencing some sort of symptoms as a child. In my PERSONAL opinion (absolutely not proven in any medical way whatsoever) I believe those who are bipolar have always been bipolar. Maybe symptoms came and went, but if we thought REALLY hard about it, I bet it would explain much of our childhood behaviors. But as I said….that’s just MY opinion.

How about you? Can you remember experiencing symptoms as a child???

2 thoughts on “When you were young, did you have symptoms?

  1. I remember having both manic and depressive states since I was a young child, at least by the age of seven. Similar to Marybeth I’ve always had a difficult time making friends because I’m always questioning motives. I even questioned the love my family felt for me. I always felt alone and would isolate myself as a coping mechanism.

    When I was manic I would stay up all night, no matter my age. Often I would come out of my room, allowing my father who was also bipolar to know that I was awake and we would be manic together (although I was not diagnosed until adulthood, my father didn’t think it was possible). Sometimes as a teenager after staying up all night, doing whatever I’d go running in the morning then drive my sisters and I to school. I’d do this over and over again until my body allowed me to sleep.

    My room would get rearrange quite often. I probably had one of the cleanest rooms a child or teen ever has walked into. I know it was the cleanest room in our house. I would seclude myself in my room most of the time as messes really made me anxious. In a manic state I would often try to clean the rest of the house to my detailed specifications yet it never remained that way so I often just stayed in my room.

    Yeah, I remember both sides. I agree with what my mother said after the diagnosis, “I just thought it was normal.” I guess having two unmediated bipolars in the same house, our manic and depressive states would look normal.

  2. Jen, as I was reading your post it struck me that we had almost identical experiences. The only difference is that I was the only person in my family with it. It started when I was seven or 8 and after the initial ‘curiosity’ it seemed to be accepted as normal. I wasn’t diagnosed with anything until I was in my early thirties.

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