I first noticed it when I picked him up from school, he was full of conversation, very excited and seemed pretty happy. Of course I enjoyed the positive mood and soaked in all the smiles. But once home, it became more pronounced.
He began talking non-stop about his creative ideas and plans, so much so that the other kids felt annoyed by the behavior and I too have to admit to feeling overwhelmed. At one point, he was in my office pacing back and forth, giving me great details about the plans he had in mind. His movements were so constant that I had to ask him to stand still since he was making me dizzy.
I then commented, “You seem to have a ton of ideas in your head.” He said with a huge smile, “Oh yeah, my brain is full of them! I just can’t stop thinking about them.” I then said, “You seem to be feeling pretty good today.” He responded with an even bigger grin, “Yeah I do, I feel really good!” Then he broke out in giggles and used his hands to cover his grins and laughs, trying hard to contain himself.
This was very unusual for us since we usually see irritability. My husband and I both agreed that his behavior seemed like someone on a drug. He was persistent, intense, full of creativity and plans, it’s like his brain was speeding on the freeway and nothing was going to stop it! He was clearly experiencing a mind altering mood!
As the day progressed, his elevated mood continued. By evening he was making plans to journal all his ideas down in a notebook so that he could eventually get to sleep.
When morning approached he was up earlier than usual and followed my husband around the house with his creative-based conversations. Though they weren’t really conversations since he was doing all the talking. At one point my husband excused himself to the bathroom, but my son kept rambling on outside the bathroom door. By afternoon, he was talking in-depth about the polar coordinates changing in our lifetime while I was trying to blow dry my hair, all cool stuff, but his passion was so over the top.
Then came the crash.
He started talking about school and some difficult moments, then the tears followed. He began breaking down, just minutes after a speech over his love of science, he now was crying in my arms. I held him tight and told him that everything was going to be alright.
We were in therapy about 45 minutes later, by then he seemed to be settled down and has been ever since. The therapist agreed that this was probably a breakthrough symptom.
It’s funny, even though my son has a working diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I don’t hold on to that diagnosis as something final. Especially when he has stability for long periods of time. Then I see this kind of behavior and think... maybe this really is a bipolar illness.
After all we’ve been through, is it strange that I still think this way?
Do we ever feel ready to accept a diagnosis?