Have you ever cheated on your best friend? Have you ever betrayed the trust of someone you cared about more deeply than yourself? How did it feel? For me, it felt like my entire world collapsed around me. My husband — my best friend — no longer trusts me. I broke my marriage apart and now I need to pick up the pieces.
Bipolar mania comes in many different flavors. Some people gamble. Some people shop. Some people travel. There are others, however, that sexually act out. In fact, anywhere from 25 to 80 percent of all people with bipolar disorder have what's called hypersexuality. This symptom of bipolar mania is essentially an overindulgence and compulsive obsession with sexual content and interactions. Those who suffer from it have compromised their families, jobs, physical health and legal status. They acted out under overwhelming and uncontrollable desires. In fact, studies have shown that people with this symptom have increased blood flow to the part of the brain that controls moods and emotions. The mechanism for satisfaction works in much the same way as a drug addiction. For me, it is an addiction.
Hypersexuality, to me, is overwhelming and almost uncontrollable. I can feel it on my skin and taste it on my tongue. It's palpable. When I'm manic, I feel like a different person. All I care about is myself. Nothing else matters. All I care about is the thrill.
About a year ago, I found a guy chatting online. He was sweet and funny and talking with him kept me occupied. I wasn't planning on "cheating" with him. For me, the flirting and dirty talk were fun and harmless. During that time, I had no idea I was manic. Over time, the mania grew stronger and stronger and I began to say and do things that I would never do. Things that I can't say on this site.
Eventually, he started demanding to meet up. I refused more than a few times. One day I gathered up the courage to stop chatting with him and cut him off. Thinking that this had solved my problem, I tried continuing on with my normal life. Unfortunately, the desire to contact him again ate at me. It wrapped itself around my brain like a snake. I couldn't stop thinking about it. At one point, it hurt so bad I was getting headaches. So I caved in and met up with him. It was the worst decision of my life. I ended it right then and told my psychiatrist about what happened. She was able to change my medications and get me back down to stable.
Since then, I've been fighting the urge to contact him again. When the mania is gone, I hardly ever think of it. But when I start to get manic, it becomes difficult. This is when I remind myself of the consequences and focus on moving forward. My medications and therapy have been a huge help in keeping my mania at bay. I also have a strong support system with my friends who are there for me whenever I get tempted. My husband has since forgiven me and we are both working together on creating strong boundaries to help eliminate my triggers.
Knowing what I know now, I'm more than happy to share my story. I know that there are thousands of people who have the same challenge as me but are too afraid to say anything. I want you to know that if you suffer from bipolar hypersexuality, you are not alone. Get help and stay strong. You're responsible for your actions, but your behavior is a symptom of an illness. It is an explanation rather than an excuse.
Don't be ashamed of your actions. Learn from them and grow.