I’m struggling more than I have struggled in years. The highs are getting higher and the lows are getting lower. I’m noticing a symptom that I have not experienced since my treatment began several years ago: hypersexuality.
In the article Bipolar Infidelity, the writer puts it into the dangerous context of mania:
The cause is the hypersexuality, impaired judgement, poor impulse control, and grandiosity – scary bipolar symptoms – all brought on by mania.
It’s more than just being horny. We all get horny. And hypersexuality exists outside of bipolar. It’s the combination of other mania symptoms which make it far more insidious.
Before my diagnosis, I experienced all of those symptoms together for weeks and months. I believed that I had been given a holy calling to satisfy women who felt neglected. To make them feel beautiful and desirable. When my cheating came out, my dad sat my wife and me down so that we could have a discussion about my behavior and my desire to leave her. Everybody knew something was wrong when I spoke of my calling. No one even really knew what to say. This is the grandiosity and impaired judgement.
All of these symptoms combined made it very easy to cheat, and once I started I felt that I could not stop. I visited another church and had one of the pastors pray with me. I told him that I felt that I could not remain faithful to my wife even if I tried. The prayer didn’t work because this was not a moral failing. This wasn’t a reflection of a problem in my marriage. This was bipolar mania plain and simple. We just didn’t know it, yet. I continued to cheat.
When she found out, I walked out. I felt very happy to be free to do whatever I wanted with whomever I wanted. When my mania ceased I realized what terrible things I’d done. My wife took me back in to care for me. I was diagnosed with Bipolar I. She took me on the condition that I never cheat again and remain faithful to my treatment.
And I have kept that bargain. But here I am, struggling with those symptoms again. I know what they are and why I’m having them, but I find it very difficult to combat them other than get med adjustments, which haven’t worked, yet.
I don’t even have to look for trouble. It seems to find me. Women seem to see me differently when I’m hypersexual. I must behave differently, or perhaps they can just sense the energy. And I like it. I like it when a woman flirts with me. It makes me feel good about myself, but it starts a ball rolling for me that I’m not convinced I can stop until I’m well again.
My wife knows that I’m struggling with mania, but I’ve never told her about this. I don’t think she can handle it. I did send her the link to the article above just an as fyi. Perhaps she’ll put two and two together. In fact, as I’m writing this, she responded to the link with this: “This is not news to me. Did you think I didn’t know this stuff?”
I sent it, because she seemed confused about it recently. Maybe I’m the one who is confused. She does not blame me for any of my other symptoms, but she does for this one. “Oh, he’s really talking a lot, but he can’t really help it. He’ll just have to lay low for awhile.” But hypersexuality is different. It hurts. I think the responsibility I can take is in doing everything I can to stay well, but if that fails, what do I do? I hope I don’t ever have to answer that question. I’m expected, though, to take full responsibility for my infidelity as if it were strictly a moral failing. But I don’t believe it is.
The honest truth is, though, that although I feel really bad about my affairs now, I had nothing but enjoyable experiences. I never slept with a woman before my wife even though she had slept with other men (including my brother and my best friend) which has been painful and frustrating. She had healthy and frequent sex with her boyfriends. We didn’t have sex in our entire first year of marriage. It was many years before we got into a twice a month routine. I feel that although it was hurtful, I was able to even the score and let go of some of that pain and frustration. I do wish I’d done this before marriage, of course.
We rarely have sex now. We love each other. We love spending time with each other and cuddling, but we haven’t had sex in 1 and a half years. We haven’t had sex more than 5-6 times since my diagnosis and I barely care. It’s too difficult to have sex with her. After her pregnancies and hysterectomy there have been issues. Since I started taking so much medicine, I’m not really as virile as I was before. We tell ourselves that we’ll get back on track when the kids are out of the house which is soon. I know that we need that for the next step of healing to occur.
The lesson to this story is that manic sexuality is one of the worst manifestations of bipolar and that to a spouse it doesn’t seem like a symptom. It seems like a terrible hurt. How can I expect her to not hurt or not to take it personally? That’s a hard thing to control. And yet, I feel that I could not control my infidelity.
I know that I’m in trouble right now. I’ve been subtly courting a very young lady at the grocery store. There’s a fine line between what is controllable and what is not. I feel that I have some control here. I have no conscious desire to actually have an affair, and yet I keep doing it. It can be a slow process, a slow tease, for some women. If I really wanted to do this, the ideal would be for her to make the move. I can see the interest in her body and eyes. She hungers for the attention of an older man. It’s just a matter of time before our connection lives outside of the store, if I don’t control the situation. I feel fine right now. I have no desire to do anything, but I could easily feel differently tonight. Then there’s the woman in AA, she’s already hanging all over me. These things would not be happening if I weren’t getting sick again. Some women are drawn to it. A beautiful woman joined me at the hot tub at the gym. She sat right next to me. There was another guy in there with us. She and I had an immediate spark. I was mentally willing the other guy to leave. I cannot say that I would have turned down an advance, and perhaps even make one myself. Fortunately, he did not leave.
And yet, I do not want anything to happen. I sincerely do not. I’m seeing my doctor next week to talk about it. 2nd time in a month. This is something I cannot talk to anyone with other than my therapist and my psychiatrist, which is frustrating. No one else really understands how this works, and although my wife says she understands, I don’t believe it. It’s one of those things which is hard to understand without having experienced it. Until I’m better, no grocery store, no attending that particular AA meeting, and NO HOT TUBS.