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Mania and Marriage: Coping With Hypersexuality

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.

Jess also writes for her personal blog and bp Magazine. You can read more of her blogs for IBPF here

 

Comments

Thank you so much for writing so insightfully about a subject that deserves more attention!

I'm an author, a former IBPF Blogger/Story of Hope & Recovery and Huffington Post blogger who has postpartum bipolar one disorder. (a.k.a. bipolar, peripartum onset) I write about many bipolar-related topics, often focusing upon my life as a mom with bipolar.

Although I've experienced all kinds of things when it comes to this mood disorder, I only had a brief bout of hypersexuality that I didn't act upon. However, I've seen hypersexualtiy devastate relationships in relatives and friends who've been very close to me.

It's wonderful that the message of this post is to release shame and learn from what has happened in your life.

Once again, thank you for addressing this symptom so comprehensively, respectfully and intelligently. Many readers will benefit from your thoughtful approach!

Good to see you here!

My "go-to" misbehavior when manic is fast driving, including street racing. When I was younger (I'm 54) and didn't know I had bipolar, it got me in a lot of trouble (but less than it could have, and no serious accidents). Now that I know, I still feel the urge, and still tend to drive fast, but no street racing, and *some* control.

Wonderfully informative, honest she tells my story and many others story of how it is with mania and hypersexuality. Thank you Jess!!!!

I have made the same mistakes, and then some. I am now on Geodon and haven't been manic since. Its strong, I have no emotions, but at least I don't do "bad" anymore.

I had my first marriage ruined by my behavior, not knowing at the time I was BP. Now that I've been properly dx and medicated, and have the tools in place to help me be the kind of person I want to be fir my wife now, I recognize the triggers and rein in my behavior. Thank you for addressing this issue. I wish I would have had the resources available 15 years ago.

Love the article - highlighting a symptom often kept behind closed doors. A symptom shamed by a society that doesn't understand the true consequences of this crippling illness. A society that is not prepared to put in the work to educate themselves to better understand our disability. Thank you for speaking up. To shine a light of honesty paves the way to stamp out ignorance

Unfortunately, I met my husband when I was on an SSRI which dampened my sexuality & took away my libido. My unmedicated hypomanic hypersexuality predated our relationship. Too, my husband isn't a "bad boy," which changes the relationship dynamics considerably. I prefer stability and love over frequent sex and multiple orgasms, but I do miss that sexual beast I once was.

im happy i found this site bc it seems as if i can not talk to anyone about my problem. i feel as though i am going to cheat on my girlfriend bc her sexual needs are not like mines. we have argued in the past about how i want sex every night and this is something she can not do. in my younger days i had no issues with getting with other women to do things mines will not do but now i found my future wife and do not want to disappoint her and destroy our relationship. normally if i dont have sex then shamelessly i have to have sex with myself just to even go to sleep i get embarresed talking about it and even having to do it while she is beside me. haveing sex with myself is starting to piss me off and i am really trying to fight the urge of cheating. i basically wanted to see if it is people like myself i can talk to so i dont destroy my life be of sex

Thanks so much for this post. I have struggled for a long while with my roller-coaster of mood swings. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety 7 years ago, but now I feel it's incorrect, partly due to informative post like yours.

I have suffered from the hypersexed symptoms more than any other. I have cheated multiple times, each time trying to convince myself it'll be the last as I am rational human being.

I manage to hold down a job, but recently I've been in a down phase so utterly all encompassing I can hardly speak.

Thanks for being so honest.

These comments are helping me so much. I've been having crazy hyper sexual behavior for what appears to be months . It's like there's aunother person doing and saying things that I do..Recently I went into the hospital , critically ill with seratonin toxicity. I was basically in a coma for two weeks. When I woke up I found out that my husband had accidentally found somehorrific emails in my phone. If you knew just how tech challenged he is, you would be shocked . Just like I was. I know everything happens for a reason. I was diagnosed as bipolar 20 years ago but it was apparent that I'd been very manic probably since I was very little. Anyway, I don't like to think of those days because before I got diagnosed I raised my children not as a happy manic but angry mania. Filled with rage most days. Didn't hurt them physically of course. I won't go into that. I love this man I'm about to lose all my heart but the things that I wrote in the email were so vile. I went into great detail about having sex with two men at the same time. I won't go into details and yet knowing how horrified I am and was regarding my own behavior and yet I'm so excited sexually that it's all I can do not to make a connection with perfect strangers. I'm going to go to a psychiatrist soon. I guess I'll either go from being so manic to pissed off in a matter of seconds. Thanks for listening.

Carol

We are sorry to hear you are going through such a challenging time. You are doing the right thing by getting help. You should know that you are not alone. Over 60 million people in the world have bipolar disorder and 1 in 4 people have some type of mental illness. The following may be helpful to you regarding your relationship and hypersexuality:

Webinar Recording: Life Discussion With Suzy Favor Hamilton, Olympic Runner, Author Of "FAST GIRL", And Mental Health Advocate

http://ibpf.org/article/life-discussion-suzy-favor-hamilton-olympic-runner-author-fast-girl-and-mental-health

Couples Counseling: What’s It All About and Should You Go? (blog)http://ibpf.org/blog/couples-counseling-what%E2%80%99s-it-all-about-and-should-you-go

·   Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder (blog)http://ibpf.org/blog/loving-someone-bipolar-disorder

·   Overlap of Romantic Love and Mania (webinar)http://ibpf.org/mood-love-overlap-romantic-love-and-mania

·   Talking To Your Spouse About Your Disorder (blog)http://ibpf.org/blog/talking-your-spouse-about-your-disorder

·   Bipolar Attraction (blog)http://ibpf.org/blog/bipolar-attraction

Great read. I was diagnosed today. My impulse control is ridiculous. It has ruined my life so to speak. My academic career, professional life now it's working on my marriage. I'm so hypersexed I have begun lying and cheating with no remorse. I feel so stuck because no one knows my secret and I'm too ashamed to talk to anyone. Thank goodness for my psychiatrist and others for speaking up.

Hi, I do not suffer from bipolar hyper sexuality, but my wife does! Thank you for your comments, it has really helped me to try and understand her state of mind. To my knowledge she has not been with anyone else, but has been texting several people, via tinder. When I confronted her about it, she just laughed, and showed no remorse. It was like talking to a person that I did not know! We have been together for 17 years, and she was diagnosed about 6 months ago. Thankfully, with posts like yours, it is helping me and my wife understand a little bit more. We are trying to rebuild our relationship, but with new boundaries to compensate for the bipolar hyper sexuality. Once again, thankyou

This is so interesting because I am the Carol who commented above about having been in the hospital and my husband finding vile emails, etc. The reason that I’m commenting now is because I have no recollection of even going to this site and telling my story but regardless I am glad that I reached out. My meds have changed and I still struggle but am doing much better. I love my husband and when I have those vile thoughts of being with others I now recognize them as not real so to speak. It’s not something I really want at all and I’m so glad my husband is being patient with me. It was quite rocky for awhile. But this site and the articles have taught me so much and by the way I’m an ER nurse of many years and thought I was well schooled in this subject . Not just because of my patients but because of my own family history. However I had no idea that this was a common symptom that can and probably will arise as I advance in age. Bipolar disorder doesn’t go away and I thought once I got diagnosed which was 20 years ago that my behavior was going to be under control as long as I took my meds. I was wrong. It’s an ongoing process. Now that I’m aware not only can I help others but I can be honest with my husband and tell him when I have triggers. After much discussion he’d much rather I do that than act out and he find out about it later. Reading all the comments are so very helpful to me. It’s nice to know that I didn’t behave this way because I’m an awful person but because I have a mental illness. That’s not great either but at least I now have the tools to hopefully prevent ruining my whole life which was within moments of Happening when I last wrote. Thank you for listening .

To Meredith , there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Do not despair. Once you have a diagnosis which you now have you can begin to find a path to normalcy which is different for all but I promise if you keep reading and trying to understand your own symptoms you will get better. If I have to hang in there than so do you. Prayers are with you.

This is almost exactly what my long term girlfriend is doing right now. We have been through many episodes but this is the first time she has wanted to sleep with other people.

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