Spoiled Brat or Bipolar?

Today I’m going to tell a story about a young man named Bradley. Some of these will sound like I’m rambling; some won’t make a connection. I will kind of go all over the place, but that’s the way my mind worked, so it’s okay. Sadly, there is so much I don’t remember from my childhood that I’ll only be able to give you snippets of events and I hope you’ll be able to follow along. Was I a brat or bipolar?

An Adorable Rascal

I was an adorable child. You could say angelic even. I was loving, kind, and sweet as could be. I was a joy to behold.

I was a spoiled brat. You could say a punk even, I was rotten, unruly, and a holy terror. I was quite the rascal.

Which was I? Well, what day is it? If you know anything about bipolar disorder, you know the answer is both.

My Best Friend, I Hate You

Mom and I were best friends and the worst of friends. There were a lot of explosive episodes with my mom. One I remember the most was her and I screaming at each other in our kitchen. We said “fuck” a lot which is not a word you’d ever expect mom to use. I would scream at her and smash one of our plates on the floor. She would scream at me and smash a plate on the floor each time as well. When we finished, there was a pile of broken dishes and I think I walked out leaving her to clean it up.

Then there was one of the best memories I remember of mom. She and I went to a large state park to check it out. It was big and beautiful and we enjoyed a game of miniature golf together and had a lot of fun. That probably was my best memory.

If You Want it, Here it is, Now Come and Get It

papason chairRight now, I don’t remember specific events with my dad, but I remember he would try to make me feel better by buying things. I wanted a horse, I got a horse; I wanted a motorcycle, I got a motorcycle; I specifically remember telling him I didn’t want to drive the hand-me-down car he gave me. What happened then? He bought me a new car, of course.

I felt guilty for bullying my parents for giving me these things, but nothing stopped me from demanding them. They were no different than the alcohol. It gave me a high to get these things, but that high wouldn’t last long and it would become time to demand something new.

One particular incident I remember was going to a store to buy a papason at the mall. My mom said it was too expensive so we left the store. Heading to the mall exit, I created a major scene. I yelled at her and bullied her until we went back in the store and bought it. It’s not one of my proudest moments.

In the Bubble

Naturally, my thoughts are that my behaviors were the result of having bipolar disorder. Some may be offended by that. They may say I was a bad kid and I’m using mental illness as an excuse. That’s okay. I don’t need everyone’s validation. I know the truth because I know what was going on inside my head. I was scared, insecure, extremely sad, and damned miserable. I was absolutely certain that everyone hated me. Oh, sure I had friends, but I was a burden they had to deal with. You see, the only reason they hung out with me was out of pity. I knew in all my heart that I couldn’t possibly be loved. When I was with a crowd, I’d feel like I wasn’t there. I was in a bubble hidden from others and quietly listening to conversations and things that happened. I still have that bubble.

Self Medicating

My first drink was when I was in Pennsylvania. I was twelve and a friend and I sat in the field across spoiled brat or bipolar IIfrom the elementary school, and drank beer and smoked weed. At first, I didn’t like either one, but something about it felt right. I wasn’t feeling as much of the pain that always seemed to be in my head. I started drinking heavily when I was fourteen. I had a roof right outside my bedroom window, and when it got cold in the winter, I would keep six-packs of beer out on the roof to stay cold. Around sixteen years old I started drinking heavy liquor. We had a small stream behind our house that stayed cold all year long. That was where I would keep a bottle of vodka and a bottle of orange juice. This allowed me to drink screwdrivers on the way to school each morning

A Medical Breakthrough

I’ve told this part of the story several times, but here it is again. I was suicidal, so some friends dropped me off at Cedars Sinai hospital and I wound up in the psych ward for ten days. One of those days I was called into the head psychiatrist’s office and it was crowded with more doctors who were there to observe my situation. I was told that based on my family’s history, my history and my behavior while there, that I was a textbook case for someone who was clinically depressed and I’d probably be on meds the rest of my life. I gladly took them and they helped a lot, but things still weren’t right. It was several years later that I was finally diagnosed with bipolar and I got on the right meds.

Your Kid

I hope I’m reaching out to some of you parents out there. Is your kid unruly and out of control? I know people complain about kids given too many meds these days, but please make sure you ask your doctor if it could possibly be bipolar. I was over forty years old when I was finally diagnosed properly. No one should ever have to wait that long.

  19 comments for “Spoiled Brat or Bipolar?

  1. Sister
    December 28, 2016 at 17:01

    My younger brother and I grew up with a stepfather who most likely is a narcissist. It’s been tough not being taken seriously when we have tried to express how much he has hurt us. Gaslighting was pretty much part of our upbringing… I have borderline personality disorder. It’s been so much injustice… But it hurt my brother, who is younger and more sensitive, the most. He was a troubled kid. Sometimes he got these rages. He was bossy towards other kids that were easy to boss around. Our mother doesn’t take me seriously… Whenever I’ve been depressed, she focused on my brother. Straighten up, think of your brother. Spend time with your brother, don’t disappoint him, he’ll feel so hurt. This still bothers me, but I understand that he is troubled. He still gets angry when he feels bothered, and he has never helped out with anything in the house, just climbed over the garbage bags on his way out to take a walk.
    I feel bad for typing bipolar and spoiled to try to find out which is which. Our uncle has bipolar disorder, and he thinks my brother also might have it, as he recognises the symptoms. At first I thought he might have a bit of narcissism in his disorder, but he never tries to bring others down in order to feel better about himself. He likes to show off when he may be manic, but I know how bad he craves the attention.
    A lot of blabbering in this comment, but I hope you will excuse that. It’s very complicated after all. After reading this, I realise Uncle may be right. My brother is still young, and is in therapy. I think he’s in good hands 🙂

    • Bradley
      December 28, 2016 at 23:19

      Sister, blabbering is perfectly acceptable on this blog. I’m glad your brother is in good hands and I think you’re wonderful for caring so much.

  2. Helen Brownell
    September 16, 2016 at 21:24

    My daughter’s husband just thinks she is spoiled and is in denial of her mental illness (bipolar). I just googled “spoiled” and “bipolar” and it led me here. Thank you for writing.

    • Bradley
      September 17, 2016 at 00:47

      I hope the article helps

  3. March 24, 2016 at 05:56

    Thank you for giving me another perspective to keep in mind as my daughter gets older.

    • Bradley
      March 24, 2016 at 09:01

      Comments like yours make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s exactly why I write this blog.

  4. March 23, 2016 at 05:11

    I relate very well to this post. I went through some of the same things, such as relationship issues with my mother and self-medicating. My symptoms started in my early teenage years though I wasn’t diagnosed until my mid-twenties. I’m so sorry it took so long for you to be properly diagnosed!!!

    Bipolar disorder is hereditary so I do plan to keep my eyes open for the signs. It’s scary to “label” children or young adults with a disease there’s no medical test for, but it’s scarier to me to think of them not being diagnosed or treated and having to go through so much because they don’t know what’s wrong.

    • Bradley
      March 23, 2016 at 10:53

      I know what you mean about the kids. My daughter is nineteen and I keep watching her to see if she has any signs. So far so good.

  5. March 22, 2016 at 23:25

    So important that we don’t judge children. When my son acted out, he was labeled by teachers. We were seen as spoiling him, but it’s challenging for a child to live with a neuro-atypical brain, especially when a child receives negative consequences for behavior out of his or her control.

    • Bradley
      March 22, 2016 at 23:39

      I agree that it is important we not judge children. Sadly, too many view mental disorders in kids to be just a copout for bad behavior. “Normal” people just don’t get it sometimes.

  6. March 22, 2016 at 21:49

    I started drinking at a young age as well. I sometimes wonder if something drove me towards it… or I was just prone to drink.

    • Bradley
      March 22, 2016 at 22:08

      That’s a tough one to answer. If alcoholism is a hereditary disease, then my family history “proves” that. If it’s the environment that causes it then my personal history and family history “proves” that also. For me, I think it’s both.

      • March 22, 2016 at 22:10

        For an adoptee, such as myself, we get the fun of finding out lol. 😉

        • Bradley
          March 22, 2016 at 22:12

          That’s a fun way to look at it

  7. March 22, 2016 at 11:22

    It is possible that you were both bipolar and a brat. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • Bradley
      March 22, 2016 at 11:39

      Good point. I left out chunks of info that definitely points toward bipolar, such as being awake for 3 full days and hallucinating. But you’re right. I was likely both..

  8. March 22, 2016 at 10:23

    I can relate to many things here.

    • Bradley
      March 22, 2016 at 11:37

      Yeah. Unfortunately I think there’s a lot of people with a mental illness who can relate. It’s tough going when you have no idea what’s going on.

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