Most of us first experienced bipolar some time around our late teens-early adulthood. But if we cast our minds further back, in hindsight we can spot the early warning signs from years earlier. The pattern may go something like this:
Weird behavior when we were in grade school - moodiness, attention or anxiety issues, maybe stuff our teachers didn’t approve of. Even if we excelled or did well or had friends, we just knew we somehow didn’t fit in.
By the time we hit our teens, we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were irredeemably different. The moodiness and all the rest ramped up. If we hadn’t experienced full-blown depression before, we were experiencing it now.
The only thing that was missing was that manic or hypomanic episode. But if we were dealing with raging hormones and whatever else passed for normal teen behavior, then everyone else missed it, too.
Maybe we somehow managed to scrape through high school with decent enough grades to get into college. Here, though, it all caught up with us. Combine a vulnerable brain with a drastic change in environment, and next thing, mid-semester, our parents are driving us home.
Or maybe it all blew up on us when we hit the work force. Life transitions are killers. That dream entry-level job, the one with zilch pay and high pressure and 100-hour weeks, how did that one turn out?