a couple in bed. Text reads: 14 secrets of people who've experienced hypersexuality

14 Secrets of People Who've Experienced Hypersexuality

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Sex is great, and there’s nothing wrong with having it as frequently (or as infrequently) as your heart desires. But what makes “enjoying sex” different than hypersexuality? As Mighty contributor Jess Melancholia describes it:

Hypersexuality is, from my personal experience, an overwhelming compulsion and addiction to sex and sexual content. When I’m hypersexual, I get intense cravings for sex. It’s similar to the sort of ‘butterflies in your stomach’ feeling when you fall in love. It’s an intense high that gives me a massive boost in self-confidence. The temptation to act out is so strong I can practically feel it on my skin and taste it on my tongue. The worst part about hypersexuality is I’m never satisfied. I have to actively resist what my body is essentially trying to do on autopilot. If I’m not careful, then I’ll do something I’ll regret.

When thinking about what makes hypersexuality — a symptom associated with bipolar mania — different than a natural desire for sex, it’s important to remember this preoccupation with and craving for sex interferes with the person’s life in a negative way. It’s not being “easy” or having sex for fun. In fact, the definition of hypersexuality includes that the individual has made attempts to stop the behavior to no avail. While not every maladjusted relationship with sex is hypersexuality, it’s very real for the people who experience it — and they deserve a space where they can talk about it without shame.

To get the conversation started, we asked people who’ve experienced hypersexuality in our mental health community to share one thing they wish others understood.

 

Here’s what they told us:

1. “It’s constant, unrelenting and very seldom fun. It can lead to some incredibly reckless, self-destructive and downright dangerous behavior. It scares us just as much as other people, spouses may be worried we will cheat because they might not be able to keep up with us. We can’t even keep up with it ourselves. Having a plan in place to ensure safe hypersexual behavior is very important… It’s a part of our illness we can’t just will away.”

2.It’s not our fault! It freaks us out just as much as it does others.”

3. “It doesn’t mean I’m unfaithful or I’ll be unfaithful; it’s something that comes and goes.”

4. “Sometimes I can’t control it. I feel nothing while having it, but when I come down, the guilt eats me alive.”

5.It’s unfortunate, sometimes when I’m pulling out of a downward spiral I crave that specific type of closeness. It can at times push my parter away (yes, there is a thing as too much sex). I try and be mindful and appreciative of the many other ways he shows me he loves me and cares.”

6. “[It] always happened (before being medicated) when I was manic. However it wasn’t truly about the sex but rather about controlling at least one aspect of my life. At times it would make me feel powerful (grandiosity) to the point I would overlook the upcoming consequences of my actions. Sex during these periods was almost never linked to emotional attachments, either.”

7. “For me it was just like having a prolonged manic episode… making reckless choices and feeling like you’re not in control of your actions. It’s scary when you come down and look back at what happened and you think… wow what is going on?… like you’re a completely different person.”

8. “I have no control over my actions. The part of my brain that makes rational safe decisions has been hijacked by the bipolar.”

9. “[It’s a] want and need for closeness. To feel in control when and where there was none. But sex was never about intimacy, it was always manic and primal. It was like someone else took over.”

10. “It’s like having a constant hunger for intimacy, just like people have a craving for food. It’s all you can think about.”

11. “In my early days, I didn’t care who, when or where. Sometimes it would be with my partners, sometimes with perfect strangers. It was one aspect of my pre-marriage that added to the stress of my marriage. I wanted it constantly, and if he didn’t provide, I felt that he didn’t love me and that he was cheating on me (which he was). I would get angry and distant. While I wouldn’t cheat on a significant other, the times I wasn’t with someone led to bad decisions. Thankfully I never ended up with STDs or AIDS, but it could have been very different.”

12.It’s not always tied to bipolar disorder. I don’t have bipolar disorder, but I am still hypersexual. My previous psychiatrist immediately diagnosed me with bipolar disorder based solely on my hypersexuality. I had no other symptoms, but because I have been hypersexual my entire life, I automatically had bipolar.”

13. “The urge to be wanted despite being an emotional wreck is overpowering. It demands that I forget everything sensible. It’s something I can’t understand and can’t control. But when the urges have passed or been satisfied it just makes me feel worse. And the regret lasts.”

14. “Sometimes it isn’t even about being ‘horny’… it’s about feeling a connection. Feeling something… anything. Sometimes we may be too caught up in everything and although we know that sex and love are two very different things… it all meshes together into one during an episode of hypersexuality and we are just as frustrated with it and confused as you probably are! So be patient.”

14 Secrets of People Who've Experienced Hypersexuality
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How Students May View Mental Illness in the Workforce

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It’s the end of the school year, and for most secondary teachers that means a lot of essay grading. While I’ve become accustomed to it after doing it for nearly 15 years, I guess there are still topics that can throw me for a loop. In grading pieces responding to a stimulus about work, I came across a piece questioning whether or not the mentally ill should be “permitted” to be a part of the general workforce. I was taken aback by this piece, despite the fact that it did present both sides of the issue. The writer looked at the benefits for the mentally ill population who engage in work, but also examined the loss that businesses experience when the illness causes their employee to miss time, be less productive or have negative relationships with co-workers who buy into the stigma surrounding mental illness.

This leads me to wonder how students view the mentally ill on the whole. While I have had positive experiences in revealing my struggles with bipolar disorder, this doesn’t tend to come out until I have a relationship with a student. If my students walked into the classroom and on day one I introduced myself as their English teacher who lives with bipolar disorder, I wonder if that would change the manner in which they react to my mental illness. I’m almost sure it would. Who wants to have a teacher who is actually bipolar? She may be a mess, and your grades may end up a mess as a result. That would definitely be upsetting to students if they started extrapolating based on what they have heard or what they assume about mental illness.

I can’t help but hope I would be the one to change their perception though, much like I tend to do for those I reveal my illness to once we have established that relationship. I am lucky enough to be someone blessed with a high-functioning version of bipolar II, and more days than most, I’m a grounded and mentally stable adult figure in my students’ lives. I can only think of two days where I was really outwardly distressed this whole school year at work, and I have taken maybe two days off to preserve my mental health. On my bad days, I broke down moderately once and heavily the other time, but my students were pretty forgiving. I think they realize how much I give and saw it as a natural thing that I had to have a day where I fell apart.

I guess it just threw me off and frankly hurt, to think any student would view the mentally ill as a stigmatized group versus seeing them as individual people who can hold down jobs and function successfully in society. I know many of my co-workers, and many teachers worldwide (as researched for a previous Mighty article) endure mental health challenges and I would like to think that more make a positive difference in the lives of their students than not. I’ve been blessed to be directly told that my mental health struggles and the admission thereof has helped students to feel a little less alone as they negotiated their way through high school and beyond.

Hopefully, through the efforts of organizations like The Mighty, No Stigmas, Project 375 and others, the stigma reduction will continue to the point of near elimination and those of us engaged in the struggle will not be seen as liabilities to our employers. Then we will be able to share our struggles without being seen as a risk to workplace productivity and employee relations. Until that goal is reached, I think I’ll keep fighting in my little world of education.

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Why There's Nothing Wrong With Taking Medication for Mental Illness

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When I first started medication for my depression, I hated it. 

I was 14 and not keen on the idea of being “dependent” on a drug for the rest of my life.

Bipolar delusions tried to convince me that I was smart enough to rewire my mind just by thinking hard enough about it. Needless to say, that didn’t work.

When I gave in and started taking my medication regularly, my mood improved. The dark cloud of suicidal thoughts and self-loathing lifted. I began to pick up discarded hobbies and socialize more. 

There have been a couple times as an adult when I went off of my meds. I was hopeless and did not care what happened. Each and every time, my emotions became too intense. Nothing could pull me out of the shadows for long. I either had to drop out of school, quit my job or even check myself into a hospital.

I have had some acquaintances over the years (and plenty of strangers on Facebook) tell me that medication is not necessary. It’s a con by Big Pharma to rip me off and extort my ignorance. Natural remedies like meditation, healthy eating, exercise and supplements were all I needed. 

Oh, if only that were true. 

I have given plenty of effort into each of those areas. Because only I am in my head and only I can feel what my brain is feeling, trust me when I say they are not enough. 

My body simply does not have the resources to stave off depression on its own. It certainly cannot manage mania by itself. And just because I got my happy mood from a pill doesn’t mean I’m getting an inferior kind of happiness. The brain doesn’t care what delivers the right chemistry, as long as it arrives. It’s the same or similar procedure healthier brains make — mine just happens to be weaker than others and needs some assistance. 

For some reason, some people like to tell others how to live their lives. Whether it is coming from a place of concern or ridicule, the result is the same. The recipient gets annoyed, and the teller becomes a jerk in their eyes.

I’m glad you care. I’m delighted that you know some stuff. I’m not interested in your advice unless you’re my doctor, however.

So the next time you’re tempted to criticize my medicine and offer an alternative, kindly change the topic to cinema or music. I’d be fine hearing your opinions on the latest “Star Wars” film or EDM album. Tell me about those.

Follow this journey on thatbipolarguy.com, or on Facebook.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

 Image via Tom Varco/Wikimedia Commons

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When the Box of Our Perception Stops Us From Seeing Beauty

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Sheer emotion
fills his veins
with black.

Logic
spits flames
as a voice in his head.
He sits at the edge
and looks down below.

“Get up, young man!
You don’t want to go,
to spiral to the bottom.

For at the end of this emotion
lies only death,
but I’m going to tell you
you can make it not so.

You don’t have sit
at the edge of that ledge
like your perception tells you so.
Perhaps outside
the box you’re in
the sun shines upon the snow?

Sure,
life is bleak,
and many will come and
go, but outside of

that box you’re in 

the sun shines upon the snow.

Have you ever seen it?
Outside the box,
Where the sun shines upon the show?

I know you feel your pulse
go by in every moment now,
and you look off the ledge,
to see the darkness
down below.

Perception is a tricky thing 
when it seems so doom and gloom,
but perhaps you only see that way
because you are so low.

Perception is a box, you see,
from your eyes unto your brain;
emotions are a byproduct
of the thoughts your head has made.
Perception is a little box
that grows smaller
when we are low,
but until we look
outside of it
we never see if
the sun shines upon the snow.

So how can you say
it is the end,
and can you truly know,
if you’ve never looked
outside that box 

to see that sun shines upon the snow?”

When I was 16 years old, I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder. I have experienced mood swings so drastic, it can impair how I perceive reality. There have been times in my life in which I believed I was a prophet or the Chosen One sent from God or something like that. Most of the time, simply getting from bedtime to bedtime is challenging. I have found that one thing has proven to be my voice of reason among the maelstrom that is bipolar 1 disorder. Writing helps me on a daily basis. Often, my perception causes me a great deal of pain. One day, I feel anxious that I have annoyed a friend, or perhaps I feel one day that I am worthless or that no one loves me. Maybe I feel that I am a joke, and that no one respects me, or that I will never escape my pain. Some days, if I am on the high, more manic side, I will feel paranoid, like people are watching me. In these times, when my perception is warped, I feel as if I am in a box. I try to reason with myself, but it seems that sense is far from me. That is often when I write.

Sometimes, we don’t know what to say to justify the magnitude of what we feel. We stay silent. But, after a while, our hearts know what to say. Even if our minds don’t. When I am trapped in the box, and my brain is in wild shambles, I open myself to the first thing that comes out of my mouth. I ask myself: “What is it you want to say?” One night, the poem above is what I had to say. In the midst of the unrelenting hell that can be bipolar 1 disorder, I write messages to myself.

I wanted to share the poem because I thought there was a message that could be taken from it. Depression and bipolar disorder can both include something we call “psychosis.” Psychosis is defined by the medical community as a state in which one loses touch with reality. We, humans, all perceive reality through our senses. For instance, our eyes see the blue sky and send messages to the brain. The brain then processes the information and determines that the sky is indeed blue. The brain, realizing just what a bright blue the sky is on that day, reacts in a way that makes the heart flutter and increases blood flow. Those reactions are what we call emotions. We live the entirety of our lives as slaves to that chain of reactions. That is what we call “perception.” I have dealt with my illness for almost eight years now. Along the way, I have learned about my disease and how it affects me. I had to learn psychological techniques and theories, and I also have picked up a few pointers of my own as well.

Statistics say that about 5.7 million Americans are diagnosed with bipolar disorder and about 15 million with some variation of depression. In the poem, a young man sits at the edge of a ledge with a box on his head. From the way he sees it, he can only peer below him to see that the chasm is very deep and dark. There is, however, a voice on the outside of the box. This voice sits beside the young man, asking to take the box off of his head. You see, the young man can only see within the box and the chasm below. He cannot see outside of the box. If he could, he would realize that what he perceives in the box does not agree with what lies around him. Because of the box on his head, he cannot see that around him, the sun is shining on the snow. This young man, because of the box on his head, cannot perceive that all around him there is some kind of beauty.

Everyone has or will see tragedy in their lives. Yes, life can be bleak. That is true. There will always be bad things happening; there will always be bad people doing bad things, and everyone, at some point, will go to sit on that ledge and put that box on their head. In the box lies pain. In pain lies agony. In agony, there is always the chance we will look down to see how deep the chasm is. At the bottom of the chasm lies death, and the box is there to make sure we see no other way. Perception works in that way. If our brains interpret the world in darkness, we will never be able to see the snow outside.

The trick comes by understanding that what we perceive is not definite. It comes with the understanding that everything we feel stems from how you think. If you think you are worthless, then you will feel worthless. We must understand that the box of our perception is based upon what we think about ourselves and the world around us. The daily defeat of depression and bipolar disorder comes by realizing that our perception is not always true. Life is only as dark as we allow ourselves to perceive. As we allow ourselves to believe, that is. If we never take the box off of our heads, we will never know if the sun shines upon the snow. And until we lift the box off of our heads, we can never truly say we know it doesn’t.

So let’s walk around a bit. Let’s get you out of that box. I encourage you, next time the darkness is all you see, and you look down at chasm below; take a moment to hear that voice, and see the sunshine upon the snow.

A version of this piece originally appeared on William Burk’s blog.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Silent_GOS

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When I Tell My Date I Take Mental Illness Medication

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So there I was, on another first date. You know how those are — kind of like a job interview, but a job interview where you have to be witty and cute and a good listener. I really do enjoy first dates because I am a good listener and I love hearing people’s stories, but for me, they are always fraught with tension and anxiety.

About 20 minutes into a first date, there is usually a moment of reckoning. I believe wholeheartedly in being very upfront about my diagnosis of bipolar II. It’s part of what I bring to the table and I want anyone who is going to share that table with me to know what they are being served. So I say, “Just so you know. I have Bipolar II disorder.”

This is usually followed by a moment of silence and then an, “Oh. OK.” Some men ask, “What does that look like?” But most of the time, it’s simply shrugged off and accepted.

The next thing I say is, “And I am on medication.” Those words almost always change the tide.

“Why do you take medication? Why can’t you just suck it up?” is some variation on what I usually hear. “America is just too overmedicated these days.”

Guys who say that to me don’t get second dates. Not if they are going to judge me for taking my medicine.

Whenever someone judges me for taking medication, I want to tell them the story of my grandfather. He was a brilliant, Harvard educated doctor who tried desperately to prove the chemical component of bipolar disorder, but who spent the 17 years prior to his death being subjected to some inhumane treatments that are not practiced today. A man who lost his family, his career and ultimately, his life to his condition. A man whose family would have done anything to save him but were rendered helpless by the inadequacies of the medical treatments offered at that time.

I live a full life. I have two amazing kids and a successful career. I have a community that supports me and the financial means to take care of myself. I am self-aware and have learned what I need to know about living a full life in spite of my bipolar disorder.

I know that, without my medication, it is very possible that I might have ended up in a similar place as my grandfather, losing everything I hold near and dear.

Instead, because of two little pills I take every morning, in combination with many conscious life choices, I get to live a life full of meaning and purpose — a life where I intend to change the world.

So don’t judge me for my condition or taking my medicine to live a good life. When you know someone who has been diagnosed with a mental disorder and who has the strength of mind and purpose to embrace their treatment fully, without self-judgment, then you are lucky enough to know someone very strong; someone who knows who they are and what they wants.

As I always say to my dates, arms outstretched, fingers pointed inward, “You want to date me. I have been diagnosed and I am medicated.”

And, yes, I am amazing.

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Does Bipolar Disorder Help or Hinder the Writing Process?

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Writing a book takes a certain amount of mental stability.

Despite the fact that creativity is linked with mental illness in the popular imagination, having a mental disorder is not all that conducive to productive work, particularly to the sort of sustained, focused writing that a book requires.

Still, writers living with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and other conditions have managed to write books – some very good and highly acclaimed.

I have taken on that venture myself. I am writing a book.

Now, settle down. I am not (yet) asking you to buy this book. It is still only a book in process. Nothing has been published. Maybe nothing ever will be. Nevertheless, I persist.

Actually, I have two books in the works. One is out of my hands now. It is languishing at a publishing company, where it has languished for a year, waiting for them to determine if their interest in it will lead to actual publication. That book is a memoir of sorts, based on these blog posts. Unless I want to start pimping it to agents and other publishing companies, there is nothing more to do with it right now.

In the meantime, my attention has turned to the other book. It is a mystery, and has nothing to do with bipolar disorder — except that the writing of it has everything to do with bipolar disorder.

First depression. Depression is great for writing certain types of scenes – deaths and reactions to them, for example, which are good for mysteries. Depression, however, periodically leads to the “this book is shitty” phenomenon, which I understand is not exclusive to depressive writers.

When depression leads me into that trap, I stop writing. Instead, I do “research.” If I am not too depressed to read, I delve into books about the craft of writing – plotting, description, etc. Or, I study the works of writers who do things exceedingly well – dialogue, word choice, narrative voice. I highlight examples of good technique. Then, at some point the depression lifts and I try to put what I have learned into my manuscript. Of course this means lots of rewriting and revising, which slows my progress, but, I hope, makes the manuscript better.

Then, there’s mania. Or at least hypomania, in my case. It carried me through the first eight chapters of the mystery before the depression hit. If it’s a truism that depression lies (it is and it does), mania is a liar as well. Recently I was tootling along at about 500 words per day, and it occurred to me that, at that pace, I could reasonably expect to have a rough draft by July 4, ready to send to my beta readers. This was mania talking. Lying, rather. In fact, there was no way I could maintain the pace, meager though it was, of 500 words per day and not a chance in hell that I could meet the self-imposed deadline.

What came next? More depression, of course. More research, this time into how various authors use dialogue tags. And a confusing attempt to improve the pacing by scrambling the order of the chapters.

Until writing mania sets in again, I plug away at scenes I know need to be written, even if I don’t know where they go, and keep my eyes and ears open for both the depressive lies and the manic ones. I have over 45,000 words written and refuse to abandon them now.

So I don’t know all that much about whether bipolar disorder is a help or a hindrance to creativity (I would suspect it is both), but I do know that it is possible to work around it.

Eventually, if I’m lucky and persistent, I’ll ask you to buy my books. Someday.

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