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The Side Effect of Bipolar No One Wants to Talk About

Typically, in bipolar disorder, people talk about mania and the increased sex drive that comes along with it. The thing no one wants to talk about. Well… for some of us, that’s not really so much of a thing if we don’t experience mania as often.

For me, having bipolar disorder usually means a lot of depressed or mixed moods. And anxiety… lots of anxiety. I take antidepressants along with other medication to handle these symptoms and it’s hard to tell if my most bothersome symptom is from the depression, anxiety, mixed mood or the antidepressant:

Low sex drive.

Or maybe I should frame it differently: A practically non-existent sex drive. I desperately wish I wanted to have sex… and so does my husband of 13 years. But most nights, I am so exhausted from work and managing my moods all day that I can’t fathom it. My body and mind are tied in knots and I can’t seem to untie them enough to get myself comfortable and vulnerable enough to be intimate with the one I love.

It can cause resentment in relationships. It can cause rifts. It can cause frustration, arguments, discussions about whether or not you find the other person attractive or desirable enough… there are hurt feelings, anger, and just overall feelings that can pull you apart as a couple.

I plan to talk to my psychiatrist and primary care doctor about this to see what can be done. It’s not OK with me and it’s not OK with my partner. We are struggling. I’ve tried exercise, massages, quiet time, meditation, couples therapy; you name it. No luck.

This symptom needs to be more openly discussed in the doctors’ office and in the mental health community so we can support one another to get help. And to know we are not alone.

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