When you think about bipolar recovery stories, sexual addiction isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. On top of that, many people, including those suffering from it, are unaware of it at all. They don’t think it exists. For the most part, many people believe those who suffer use the term as an excuse. That it’s not REALLY “suffering”. That it’s simply a matter of lack of self-control. That it’s derived from an internal weakness or lack of conscience. That it’s done purposefully to ruin either yourself or your relationship with your partner/spouse.
For me especially, this kind of language not only hurts; it’s crippling. This kind of language tears a jagged scar in my heart and reduces me to nothing more than a selfish slut. And the shame from committing such a heinous crime, in my case adultery, is often unforgivable. However, what if the situation was explained from the criminal’s point of view? How many people, if they truly understood what goes on in the brain of a person suffering from manic-induced sexual addiction (hypersexuality), would cast the first stone?
Unlike the many inspiring stories you have read, my recovery story is controversial. If anything, you the reader will probably walk away from this story having learned nothing and your prejudice will go unwavered. Whereas I sincerely hope that isn’t the case, chances are it will happen and the comments section will be filled with vile, hate-filled slurs. Fortunately for me, there has been nothing but support and understanding in my blog’s comments section. Hopefully you can take away from this story the same things those commentators did and look at bipolar disorder from a different perspective.
It all started around Valentine’s Day. 50 Shades of Grey had just come out in theatres and it seemed like everyone was feeling the steamy passion vibes. That movie isn’t my cup of tea but the effects of the advertising got my heart pumping. I was pulling out the old kinky tricks and me and my husband were having the best sex we had ever had. Every night. And I was on top of the world at work and in my social life. Things were perfect.
This came just in time because I was struggling with bipolar depression just prior to this leveling up in my emotions. I was taking Lamictal for my mood stabilizer and Klonopin for my anxiety but I was still getting low swings in my mood so my psychiatrist prescribed an antidepressant called Wellbutrin. That was around January.
Now antidepressants aren’t the best idea for someone with bipolar disorder because it can induce mania. But with all the family drama going on and me and my brother wanting nothing more to do with our “dysfunctional family”, I needed a little pick me up. She was cautious to put me on it temporarily until I started feeling better. I did almost immediately.
For those of you who don’t know, people with Bipolar Disorder generally fall into two categories: Bipolar I is the powerful fast jump into mania while Bipolar II has a milder hypomania that sort of slowly sneaks up on you. It’s hard to tell exactly when it starts and when it really ends because of how gradual it is and I honestly thought I was fine. And maybe I was for a short while. But over the course of the next few months I was starting to obsess over it. Feeding the sexual appetite I had became more and more difficult. I needed more sex.
During that time, one of my coworkers started taking notice of my unusually high confidence and started gravitating toward me. Bumping into me in the break room frequently. Sitting close staring into my eyes and being all kinds of nervous around me. The usual, “I like you but I don’t want you to know” kind of attitude. Which made sense if he liked me and didn’t want me to know because he was married as well!
Now I was never planning on doing anything with him but it did feel good to be noticed by another guy. Feeling the sexual tension in his eyes added another rush to my day.
That still wasn’t enough. So I tried letting my husband know I was missing the attention. My husband is a good man. He definitely agreed to try harder but he does work a very stressful job so it’s hard to find the time to be romantic. My husband gave the usual, “I’m trying my best but I can only do so much” speech. That pissed me off!
So I downloaded an app called Whisper so I could post an angry confession. It basically said that I loved the attention my hot coworker is giving me because I’m not getting that from my husband.
….and so it begins. Baby steps.
There were a few guys who responded. Most of them asked for pics or replied with nasty comments so I did the normal thing and dismissed and deleted the gross ones. One guy though. He was different.
He responded with something funny. He said that my coworker is probably a hot fireman on the side and will probably take his shirt off to show me his rock hard abs! My immediate response was a quick “LOL” and said that there was no way because my coworker is rather skinny. The guy, let’s call him Mark, starts telling me that my coworker probably has steamy office fantasies about me. Mark says that he is probably slowly crossing boundaries, doing “this or that to try and get me to blush.” That he is biding his time before he corners me in the breakroom.
Reality check: This isn’t my first time chatting online. However, guys rarely ever talk to me without getting extremely gross, sexting me, or asking to hook up. Mark hadn’t done any of that yet so I was reluctant to just cut him off.
So I kept chatting. Or rather he did.
In what seemed like an endless stream of about 50 messages, Mark painted this vivid erotica about me being cornered alone in the breakroom with my coworker and all the naughty things he’d do to me.
It was absolutely amazing! I was hooked to my phone’s screen I couldn’t look away. It was the most erotic thing I’ve ever read. I was getting so hot and bothered. The intense rush of sexual pleasure fueled by my mania was intoxicating.
Over time, the conversations began to get dirtier. Mark would say things like “you dirty little slut” and “I can tell you’re soaking just thinking about it.” I was hooked like a drug addict. He would message me on the app daily feeding me stories and I’d give him real life material to make it more interactive. It was fun and, in my mind, harmless. I wasn’t “cheating.” I was simply allowing this guy to get me off at work, no reciprocation involved. Mark mentioned that a few times. He said he hoped that he could make my day a little less dull. And believe me, when you’re stuck in meetings, it sure passes the time!
So after about a week I got curious and started asking Mark more details about himself. The usual, I’m from San Diego, play video games, etc. Then it hit me. He said he went to college in the city. I asked reluctantly how old he was. He said 20! 20 years old!!!
My heart sunk. I’d been dirty talking to some college boy 7 years younger than me?!?! I thought he was in his thirties the way he talked; how well written and how large a vocabulary he had. My God I felt like a pedophile! I let him know and he said typically women do get shocked when they find out how young he is. Apparently this kid does this online chatting a lot. Come to find out that he has apparently chatted with hundreds of women! It made sense. Mark was able to pick up exactly how to talk to a woman after all that experience. And he had me under his spell and he knew it. So I was stuck.
Over the next couple weeks I’d start reciprocating and turning the stories more toward Mark and I rather than my coworker. I’d give him hints as to what I looked like so he could imagine and dream. But one fine day while my husband was out of town on business, he asked for a pic. After repeated attempts of trying to convince me, he gave up and said he’d never ask again.
Unfortunately, somewhere down the road I caved and sent him a pic.
After a while, that’s all my brain could focus on. The rush. My mania was telling me that I needed this. Without his messages I’d go bat-shit crazy. I remember times when I couldn’t get a hold of him, I’d be sitting in a meeting at work writhing in my seat. I was so horny it was palpable. I couldn’t pay attention let alone think straight. I needed a hit and Mark was my heroin.
For those of you reading this story who do NOT have hypersexuality as a symptom of mania, you’re probably wondering why I did it. Why would I do something like this and betray my wedding vows? Because of the itch. The burning itch to do something about it clawed at me; ripping jagged scars in my heart. Unless you have felt it, you have no idea what it feels like. Not in the slightest. Every moment without sexual stimulation rips you to pieces. Running through every vein in your body, this itching takes over your mind. You can feel the physicality of it and taste the temptation on your tongue. You feel it throbbing in between your legs. Pulsing and sensitive. On top of all that, the feeling resonates inside of you all day. Every day. Every minute.
I was craving it. I had a passionate internal pull. A Fire. Telling me that I needed it. That I needed it for my survival because it felt so damn good. So. God. Damn. Good.
One fateful morning, he contacted me wanting to meet up even though we mutually agreed to keep in online only. But at that point it didn’t matter anymore, he wanted me bad. He pulled out every trick in the book. It took an hour and a half until I I finally said no. It hurt so bad I grabbed my pillow and screamed hard into it. I wanted him bad. I was fighting an internal war. I was losing. I contacted my BFF and told her everything. The whole truth. Nancy said she could help me cut him off so he wouldn’t try to convince me.
Later that day I cut him off completely by myself to see if I could do it alone. I told him that this escalated to a dangerously high level and I’m afraid I’m going to go too far. Mark thought I was overreacting and joking. I laid it down on him saying we need to stop all contact and let it go. He didn’t want to but he understood. We said our goodbyes and I told him to block me. And I blocked him. Erased all evidence of him: pics, sound clips, and the apps.
Immediately after that I cried hard. This was after work on a Friday. A Friday before my husband was going to leave on another week-long business trip. I knew if I didn’t end it then that I’d meet up with him and make the fantasy a reality. I couldn’t do that to my husband. It was never meant to go that far.
I wanna say I cried because of guilt but I think I cried more because I lost Mark and I wasn’t ready for it. Needless to say I cried all the way home. My husband confronts me….and I tell him the story.
He storms out.
I went from all to nothing and felt AWFUL. I was so ashamed of myself. But I still missed Mark. I tried finding resources online about how to get over an affair but nothing really helped.
Fast forward to Labor day weekend. I met up with my psychiatrist and told her the story a week prior and she took me off Wellbutrin and told me to take Klonopin three times a day! She could tell that I not only was still manic but that I wasn’t over Mark and she thought I was gonna try and contact him to meet up. Labor Day weekend she gave me permission to go into the hospital and take some medication to kill my mania but it’d knock me out cold for essentially a day and a half: Zyprexa. Not sure how well this works for other people but it’s powerful and has some nasty side effects. I believed her and refused to take it. I was having too much fun and I believed I wasn’t going to do anything.
Lying became so easy once I hit my highest point. Once my husband found out about the chatting he put parental blocks on my phone. Unfortunately, I’m a scientist and a tech nerd. It wasn’t that hard to override. And I did. I contacted Mark and said I was ready to meet up. That I wanted him more than anything and I’m ready. Mark, who had always told me that he respected me and wanted nothing more than to make me smile, said no initially. He said he knew me and knew how hard I struggled with it the last time he asked. He said he wouldn’t dream of going all the way because it’d tear me and my marriage apart.
After insisting that I needed to experience him in real life, we set up a time when I was at work and met up. I told my husband I had to work late because something went wrong with an experiment. For the first 45 minutes of the meetup, I was scared to death. Shaking and nervous as hell, it took all my mental concentration to “turn off” my conscience. Then it went off like a rocket. Started with making out. Then second base. Then third base. All of it was mind-blowing.
Afterwards I felt sick. Actually sick. He tried to tell me that it was all him. I’d not touched him and we agreed to just let him please me. So in a way, he made it seem like I wasn’t to blame. But I let it happen. Despite that, I still wanted more. I sat back and told him that was it. For real this time. As my heart was aching and every single piece of me was telling me to stop, I made the conscientious decision to fight back against the raging mania and end it.
My story is long and won’t fit all the details. However, the one thing I want to say to those who are fighting this kind of internal battle is that it IS possible to let it go because I’ve been where you’ve been and I know how you are. I know how you feel. As much as you love it, you hate it even more. You want it gone. At the very center of your being is a voice. Timid and shy, it whispers in the faintest tones, “No. Don’t do this. It’s wrong. You love them too much to do this.” With that tiny spark, it sends an immense jolt straight to the pleasure center in your brain and you recoil in pain. God it fucking hurts. The more you listen to it, the more it hurts. So you shut it out.
You pretend like the voice isn’t there and put duct tape over it’s mouth. You don’t want to hear that. Wide eyed and horny as fuck is ALL YOU ARE. Nothing else matters. And you do everything in your power to keep feeding the Fire. Making it grow more and more. Sucking the moisture out of the atmosphere, it creates a dry landscape in your mind and then spreads like a wildfire. You can’t focus. And you let the beast out. In a overwhelming, leg-shaking, sweet to the core sexual release of orgasmic heaven.
Then you realize a horrible truth. That the Fire wants more. No matter how much you feed the beat to try and subdue it, the Fire wants more of you. Now, you have to fight again. Furthermore, you are exhausted and guilt-ridden.
Those of you reading this and struggling with this know all too well that you’ve haven’t heard a word I’ve said. Unfortunately for you, your manic brain is telling you to ignore my advice and do what you want. That she has NO IDEA how hot and amazing [blank] is. And that she could never understand how annoying it would be to live without it. That you deserve this and it’s not really that bad. Because you don’t feel bad. You don’t care. Family and friends are concerned. Or maybe you are alone in your dark secret. But you love it and you don’t wanna stop. Or maybe you think you can’t. But guess what? I’m here to tell you that you CAN STOP.
You can stop. You can let it go. You can say no.
No. Listen to me. You. Can. Stop. There is nothing physically making you do anything. You are physically responsible for your own actions.
So you made it all the way down here. Now you tell me, “Yes, you are exactly right, in everything. So how can I convince myself to listen to your advice??” I’m so sorry, truly I am, but the answer sucks…
…bite the bullet and just do it! Rip the fucking band-aid off! Call it off cold turkey. No calls. No texts. No meetups. No contact. Nothing. And I’m not going to lie or sugar-coat it for you but it’ll hurt. Oh! It’ll hurt like you have no idea. But you CAN do it. And the pain I promise you doesn’t last. It goes away.
The most important thing about this is if you are really that hurt. That conflicted. Then you know deep in your heart that the shenanigans need to stop. Right now. Don’t wait for the Fire to cool down. Don’t wait for the Mania to subside before doing something about it. There won’t be an easy time to do it. And the Fire will fight hard to win you back. But you know this is just the mania. You know it. You know it’s lying to you.
Now you have another question, “But Jess, I really don’t think I can handle that kind of pain. How did you cope?”
My answer to that question is connection. You need to imagine your life the way it was. You need to reestablish those connections with the people you love. You don’t have to live in this dark empty cage where you choose to live in withdrawal and pray the pain will end. You need to actively seek out ways to redirect that energy you have inside of you. I’ll say it again.
You don’t have to live in this dark empty cage where you choose to live in withdrawal and pray the pain will end.
You need to actively seek out ways to redirect that energy you have inside of you.
In the meantime, what helped me, was slowly allowing myself to let it go in my mind.
Let it go! You had a wonderful life before this whole thing started. Try hard to remember. Write it down. Talk it out. Get some meds that will calm you down because you aren’t thinking clearly right now I know it.
I wasn’t looking to cheat. I was looking for sexual release. Mark was the exact wrong person at the exact wrong time. It was a terrible mistake. I lied and cheated. I hurt and broke the trust of my best friends and health care professionals. I almost destroyed my marriage.
Now, because of education and honesty, my marriage came out stronger than ever. Not to glorify the action, but whether or not you believe in a higher power, there most certainly is a reason for everything. Or at least a silver lining.
This story, as painful and embarrassing as it is to tell, is necessary. There are so many people out there who are struggling with this type of addiction. How can you fight something that makes you feel so good? Those people need to hear my story and know that their behavior is a symptom of an illness. That shame is useless. It’s selfish and unproductive. Empathy and understanding of your actions is the way to look at it. Guilt is very different than shame. Guilt allows you to learn from your mistakes and grow while shame leaves you lost in the dark.
Don’t be ashamed of your actions. Learn from them and grow.