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21 Tips for Coping With This Taboo Bipolar Symptom

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It can be hard to talk about sex. Whether you were taught to be embarrassed by it — or just prefer to keep the topic between you and your partner — when mental health affects what happens in the bedroom, it’s not something many freely want to discuss, let alone bring up to a mental health professional.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

But sex is part of life — and therefore part of mental health. From antidepressants putting a hold on your sex life, to hypersexuality making you want it a whole lot more, we can’t ignore how mental health affects our sex lives. Taking the shame out of these conversations is a great first step.

Hypersexuality — which, according to PsychCentral, is defined as “a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy, often in combination with the obsessive pursuit of casual or non-intimate sex; pornography and compulsive masturbation” — can be a symptom of bipolar mania we don’t often talk about. That’s why we wanted to get practical advice from people who’ve been there. No shame. Just experience.

Of course, you should talk to your doctor about the best ways to handle your own experience with hypersexuality. We just hope knowing there are others who have been there makes having that conversation a little easier. Everyone’s relationship with sex is different, and at the end of the day, you have to do what’s right for you.

Here’s the advice our community shared with us for dealing with hypersexuality: 

  1. “Uncommon opinion: Have lots of sex, but be safe. Always use protection, get tested regularly and if possible, have partners get tested regularly. And monogamy doesn’t have to be your default. You could have a polyamorous relationship as long as everyone is safe and consenting adults. Oh, and masturbate. Experiment with toys and positions. The only thing wrong with hypersexuality is putting your health and partner’s health at risk as well as cheating if you’re monogamous.” — Damien G.
  2. “My suggestion is to go out and find a really good sex toy. It doesn’t replace the human contact aspect of it, but it can more often then not bring the urges down enough for you to make rational decisions.” — MaRanda S.
  3. “Try to distract yourself. Sleeping with random people doesn’t help your situation. If you have someone stick to them! Don’t cheat! It’s not worth it! Your lover may not understand so educate them… You my think it’s harmless, but it’s not. You may harm the other person involved.” — Sasha C.
  4. “I’m married. So I think for me understanding that if my husband needs a day or two off, it’s OK. It’s not me. I am desired. I am loved and sex doesn’t define me.” — Katie M.
  5. “I have suffered from hypersexuality my entire life. My mental illnesses cause me to fixate on sex. The best advice I can give is to never forget that your sexuality does not define you. You are not the names people call people like us. You are strong and beautiful. Embrace your sexuality, but don’t let it control you. It has the ability to destroy your relationships if you allow it to override your moral compass. I hope that you can instead find a way to curb those impulses in a healthy manner, because it never feels good to sleep around on someone you love. However, I don’t believe that sleeping around when you’re single or in an open relationship is a bad thing. If you can embrace your hypersexuality by enjoying multiple partners in a safe manner, go for it! Just make sure it isn’t affecting your mental health.” — Tabitha W.
  6. “I have experienced hypersexuality as a symptom of my bipolar disorder. It helps to be as aware as you can and fight the feelings, especially if you are in a relationship. Express your sexuality in a way that does not harm others or yourself. I express it through dance and music, that helped me to not hurt my husband or others.” — Jenna G.
  7. “Do not constantly masturbate. It makes mine worse. The more orgasms I have, the more lost I become in needing them. Denial and ‘edging’ keeps me focused.” — Kristy L.
  8. “Use an IUD for dependable birth control and have plenty of condoms available in your purse, car, living room, bedroom… Be honest with your partner, or if you don’t have one, then your best friend about how exactly you are feeling. They can help you manage.” — Melissa K.
  9. “Don’t hate yourself about it. It’s not who you are. Sexuality is nothing to be ashamed about. Talk about it with your doctors or someone you really trust. Explain it to anyone you’re being intimate with. If you’re not with anyone and don’t want to be, spend some time with yourself (but a reasonable amount of time, not an excessive amount of time).” — Sydney S.
  10. “Try to distract yourself with things you need to do. Also ask yourself, how would you feel after you do ‘it’? If the answer is ‘horrible,’ go distract yourself or call someone you trust (family member, friend, teacher, counselor/therapist, seeing someone at a hospital to talk to, crisis line etc.). If you do it anyways or you feel like it, be safe. No glove, no love. And get tested regularly.” — Vanessa M.
  11. “To talk about it instead of feeling ashamed. Every time I cycle and I feel hypersexual, I tell my partner how I’m feeling and ask for his assistance if possible. If time and schedules don’t permit, I make sure to make time to take care of myself if possible. But definitely talking about it instead of suffering in shame alone.” — Innochka Z.
  12. “If you’re able; I highly recommend doing sprints or trying kickboxing. It’s a healthy distraction that releases endorphins just like sex does.” — Tricia F.
  13. “I added another therapy session to my weeks when I could. Call and hang out with family. Definitely spend time with friends and make sure they are the kind of friends you can say anything to. Lift weights, shadow box and meditate. All these things have helped me in the past.” — Nicole S.
  14. “My simple advice is: just be safe about it. If you experience true hypersexuality, then there’s nothing you can actually do about it. It’s something you have to learn to deal with on your own terms and figure out ways to cope. It’s an addiction you need to feed — in my experience anyways. I do understand that everyone may be different, yes. Also a symptom of bipolar. I suffer from bipolar so hypersexuality is just apart of my life. I am incredibly safe about it. And making sure I am not hurting anyone in the process, always getting tested, etc.” — Ashley M.
  15. “Be open minded and always know your self-worth, Never ignore the feeling because it than messes with your head (I know from experience). So experiment with people, gadgets, whatever — but be safe.” — Michelle B.
  16. “Try and find people who can hold you accountable. I had roommates who kept a close watch on me during those episodes because I let them know what was happening. It helped me stay accountable to myself and they helped distract me when they could tell I was distressed.” — Rebecca A.
  17. “Don’t be ashamed, find someone whom you can talk to about it. I thought of it like self-harm and tried to treat it like so. Find something to distract you from the situation.” — Ina K.
  18. “Avoid alcohol. You make healthier choices regarding your sexual health when you are sober.” — Bethanie S.
  19. “Remind yourself that it’s OK for your partner(s) to turn you down when you’re going through periods of hypersexuality. It’s not that they don’t find you attractive — they may just not be in the mood or they can’t keep up and that’s OK.” — Frankie B. 
  20. “Try to write down your feelings. Its helps you put into perspective if you’re going through a hypersexual phase or not so you can catch yourself. Relationships are hard and not a whole lot of people will understand what you’re going through. Just know that it’s something you have to work through and it’ll get easier if you continue to not get discouraged.” — Nikita W.
  21. “Nothing is ‘wrong’ because you have hypersexuality. Women specifically put in this impossible conundrum by society regarding how we should behave in total contrast to men. Hypersexuality does not make you ‘slutty’ or ‘easy’ or ‘gross’ and no one has the right to impose those judgments or any judgments on you. If it happens, it happens. Be safe, use a condom, get tested periodically, have a third party who knows who you are with or at least where you are and have fun” —  Kira S.

Have advice to share? Let us know in the comments below:

Originally published: October 16, 2018
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