I have done my own research into this topic for 20 years now. I believe that bipolar disorder is attached to a certain type of intelligence. After interacting with many thousands of people with bipolar disorder since my diagnosis in 1995, living with a partner for ten years who has bipolar one and talking with thousands of parents and partners in my coaching business I have determined the following:
1. People with bipolar disorder are NOT more creative than the general population. We are simply more creative when we are manic. As a baseline, I find that our creativity meets social norms. Often, our excessive creativity during euphoric mania is seen as a personality trait or a sign of intelligence. I simply see it as fascinating mania symptoms. Intelligence happens when we can recreate these behaviors when we are not manic.
2. I DO find that people with bipolar disorder are abnormally focused on learning. In my experience, our college enrollment rate is higher than the national average of 69%. In other words, people who go to college right out of high school. (This is not the rate of graduation. Graduation is around 30%.) To be honest, I can’t recall ever talking to a person with bipolar disorder who had not at least tried some college. Unfortunately, our college completion rates are abysmal due to the illness itself! This is why school success is such a big part of my coaching work.
This is what we used to call book learning intelligence.
Thus, I believe that people with bipolar disorder are more intellectual than the general population. Not smarter – we make a lot of mistakes that others don’t make, but when it comes to learning, we are in the top in my opinion.
3. We also tend to travel FAR more than others– this includes when we are depressed, though mania does skew this.
4. We tend to be very, very work oriented. I believe this is why our work problems affect us so strongly. I have never met a ‘lazy’ person with bipolar disorder. Have you? This is not only about mania. We like to work. There are many people in the world who simply work because they have to. I find that people with bipolar disorder express a big desire to work in a profession because they want to.
Overall, my main worries in life are around work and money. I am ok with who I am as a person and I have accepted my bipolar disorder diagnosis. I find that having a high intellect combined with an illness that affects my ability to reach my goals is… HORRIBLE. It’s a daily task to reconcile what I want to do with what I can do. I can tell you that so far, I’ve done my best.
Please note that I am referring to plain bipolar disorder here. Not bipolar that is attached to other diagnoses.
These are my general observations and I would love to hear what others think!
PS: Could our high incidence of computer use and the use of video games in bipolar disorder be connected to our particular type of intelligence? It’s an interesting topic!
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community