I’ve been sorting out having a dual diagnosis for a long time. In different situations I deny or exaggerate being an addict vs. bipolar illness.
It is my belief that the two diagnoses are a form of the same underlying issues. I think of them as overlapping. Each disorder has elements that are similar enough to be mistaken for one or the other, but they also have distinct differences.
I feel an obligation to know as much as I can about either.
For example, both diagnoses have a higher than normal divorce rate. According to Psychology Today, the divorce rate among couples with bipolar disorder is 50%. In people with alcoholism in the marriage, the divorce rate is approximately 20% according to the Journal of the Study of Alcohol and Drugs.
Forget about how correct these figures may be. I can’t validate them, but I think the point is clear: alcoholism and bipolar illness are tough on a marriage. There is overlap there.
People will tell me they don’t think I’m bipolar or that they don’t think I’m an alcoholic. I call it ‘taking my temperature.’ Naturally, feedback is good, but my experiences have taught me and certainly fairly universally it has been given to me in love….or anger…but mostly love.
I think it has become unproductive for me to ruminate on it at all. What I know is that I have a mood disorder and I can trace it back to childhood.
I have had manic episodes my whole life.
I have had addictions and cravings my whole life.
I have had character issues from when I was little.
There is hope and there is help. I just need that extra energy, strength to accept it.