On Autism and Mood Disorder (Bipolar)

Poor Hubby stayed home today, ill with the cold that wiped Liev and me out Monday. To make things worse, Egor has sciatica. His weekend guitar marathons are a likely culprit since he perches on our low-profile bed in an awkward, almost perilous position. Fellow spines shudder! Anyway, neither sickness nor sciatica will deter his strumming and singing, so I’ll sneak a proper chair into his room when he is not looking. 

My YouTube Project is humming along. Uploading and organizing videos gives me clarity and purpose. Falling asleep is a struggle since the satisfaction of organizing is so rewarding. Well, that and the eight cups of tea I drank!

Life hasn’t been all videos and journal transfers. Autism research devours part of every day.  A half-remembered article about depressed mothers and autism sent me on a Google Quest.  Did you know there is a “Broad Autism Phenotype?”  The B.A.P. is a constellation of traits that are not purely autistic but exist in the families of autistic people. With descriptions like “aloof, anxious, hypersensitive, overly conscientious, rigid, and untactful,”  I wonder how biased the researchers are. Despite the negative slant, I can say, “Maybe, CHECK, check, check, check, check.” Could this be a horoscope effect? Are these terms general enough that they apply to most people? Who isn’t anxious? Well, I know many people who are far from being conscientious, rigid, and hypersensitive.

I might be splitting hairs, however. These qualities manifest in our family. We are spectrumy. Am I diagnosable? Who knows, but I fit in the phenotype.

Examining heritability and autism, I uncovered provocative research. Giftedness and autism pop up in families with histories of bipolar and major depression. Up to 27% of people with Asperger’s also have bipolar disorder. Discussions arose about distinguishing AS from bipolar since AS people have difficulty with emotional regulation, which can present as bipolar due to intense mood shifts.

In our family, Dad, Egor, and I are exceptionally gifted. Depression and bipolar are rampant as well. Dad’s father was bipolar and cycled in and out of institutions, especially later in his life. Dad’s mother and Egor’s mother both have major depression. My mom? Hmm mmm. Anxious, compulsive, and coming soon on an episode of Hoarder’s.

What would I change about my life? Be less awkward, have more friends? Not if it cost me my thoughts. I’ll even keep my depression right where it is–manageable. The reduction of anxiety and obsessive thoughts that Lexapro has brought me is a blessing. I can sleep regular hours, and my life is not a 24 hour “Strange Addictions” episode, where viewers can watch as I google health issues late into the night while picking at the skin behind my legs. I like me, but I want to understand myself as well.  

*The link to the article I read with regard to autism and bipolar disorder is here.

Preschool Questions About Death

questions

I feel better today , cheerful at least. I took a ton of recycling down to the transfer station and found some cool books from the 1920s.

The recycle grandpas monitored me to make certain I did not take more than my fair share. After I left, I suspect a small scuffle broke out over the juicer I left behind. Those guys looked spry. Whole fruits must be in their diets!

Liev came home very grumpy and, of course, he had a fever. Have you ever been in an irritable pissy mood and all you wanted to do was argue or bitch about Bill O’Reilly? That was him.

He had serious stuff on his mind.

Out of the blue he said, “Why do we have to die?”

After I picked my jaw off the floor I said, “It’s part of the circle of life, we are born and then we die.” (thank you Land Before Time).

Thus our conversation continued:

Liev: “No but, why do we die??”
Me: “Uhm. Well, when we get older, our bodies wear out.”
Liev: “When will I die? When will my body wear out?”
Me: “Ahh, uhm. Well, not for a long time.”
Liev: “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to wear out. When will I die?”

I did my parental homework long ago to learn how to answer these types questions. For now–keep it simple for four year olds.

Me: “We don’t know when we will die.”
Liev: “But I want to know when I will die. How old will I be?”
Me: “Very old, sweetheart, it’s a long way off.”
Liev: “How old will I be?”
Me: “Oh, in your eighties.”
Liev: “No. Nineties. I’ll be a hundred and eleven when I die. And also, I will have 10 billion friends.”
Me: “10 billion?”
Liev: “Uh-huh. Right now there are 8 billion people on earth and they are my friends. When I die it will be 10 billion.”
Me: “Okay.”
Liev: “When will my stomach wear out? Will I die when my stomach wears out?”

And so on. In the end, I was unable to keep it simple, so I went on a monologue about how doctors will one day be able to fix people so you don’t have to die, but he lost interest. I think if I give him a body maintenance schedule, next time he asks I can avoid the question “What happens when you die?” And heaven help me if he learns that accidents can make you die…

ETA: Where there is smoke there is fire. One of Liev’s classmates died. She had a degenerative neurological condition and lost her fight. The staff and teachers were abuzz, speaking of the child’s passing and perhaps assuming little autistics couldn’t understand. I received a note about the death two days after it occurred. Little Liev questions were understandably sensitive and existential.