On the rare occasion that I do share that I feel my three year old daughter is bipolar, the same question seems to pop up. That and the same "you're a bit stupid," face.
"Well, why do you think that?" They'll ask me, eyebrows raised and furrowed in the middle. "Little kids are just hyper." They'll tell me, trying to convince me that my adorable little girl can't possibly be manic.
"All little kids are moody," is another they'll frequently use to explain away her depressions.
I understand, and it's so sweet that they can't imagine her as "having a mental disorder." Honestly, even in her teenage years when she can possibly be diagnosed, I doubt anyone would be able to see her symptoms because of how well she's adapting and using her tools at such a tender age.
With three other kids though, I know the difference between kid hyper and her mania.
One of the key differences is that she can't process what she's doing before she does it.
A good example was last night.
She hadn't napped, which makes her susceptible to mania.
She was sitting on my lap, repeatedly kissing my cheek. Adorable. I knew, however, that the excited way she was repeating an action was a sign that this could become dangerous.
"Honey, can you take a breath for me?" I asked her in my gentle-but-firm Mommy Voice.
The lack of nap was too powerful and she gently opened her mouth to hold my cheek between her teeth.
This is where Daddy swooped in and laid her down for a very, very late nap.
Obviously, if she wasn't taken off my lap, and wasn't able to take her breaths, she would have bitten me. Not could have. It was inevitable at that point and I'm so glad I had Daddy to jump in because sitting on Mommy was part of what was triggering her mania.
Most little kids can be redirected at that point, but for her, sleep was about the only thing that would keep her from hurting someone or breaking something. I can tell you that unlike her non-bipolar sister Icy who delights in causing destruction, when Bubbles hurts someone or breaks something, it ruins her day.