14 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder and the Sex Drive Conundrum

  • June 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Thank you for this timely and relevant article. I just found out that my 30 yr old daughter, diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 15, has had lots of the sexual activity that you described/listed re: hypersexuality/mania. She’s much more stable than she’s ever been and is working full time and lives independently. She’s on Lamictal and Abilify but struggles with terrible self-hate, impulsivity & self-injury. She admits that moderation is an aberration for her. It’s all or nothing, whether that’s drinking, smoking, sex, etc. I know that much of this unhealthy behavior can be part of the bipolar profile. A lot of her excess/self injury is to numb the emotional pain and other difficult feelings. She lost her Dad suddenly and unexpectedly at the fragile age of 14 and I don’t think she’s ever grieved that loss and so many others since then.

    I know that I can’t control any of her risky behavior but it makes me so worried, so sad and yes, so angry sometimes. To accept that this is how my daughter lives feels unbearable at times. I’ve been there for her through thick and thin and this illness has made our relationship very difficult at times. I was hopeful that by age 30, she’d be making better decisions. I often share my fears and concerns but she feels that I’m judging her. I tell her that the bottom line is that I will always care about her health and well-being and that I love her—period. But I struggle with so many conflicting feelings and often resent her poor choices, as they continue to affect my life, practically, financially and emotionally. How do “let go” of these feelings and my intense worry about “what’s next?” Intellectually, I “get it” but
    learning to accept her, her illness and her lifestyle is still difficult some 15 years later!

    Reply
  • October 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    I have the opposite problem, as I have zero interest in sex. Once in a while the thought actually crosses my mind, but it doesn’t linger. Then I feel sad that I have no intimacy to offer my boyfriend. I know that I’m afraid of intimacy since my diagnosis of type 2 bipolar, but I also feel like I’ve become someone I don’t recognize. I don’t remember who I am. I used to be very sexual. I am in my early fifties and have had a wonderful sex life. I suppose it may be over. Thank you for this forum.

    Reply
    • July 8, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      I hate this problem. 90% of the time my sex drive is gone. I adore my girlfriend but the thought of any sexual excitement makes me feel gross. What the hell! Bipolar, PTSD, sex addict, and yet sex makes me feel icky. Stupid.

      Reply
  • July 16, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing; this was informative. I’m a husband to a Bipolar Narcissistic Sociopath female. We’ve been together for 14 years, 5 years married. I was 21 when we started dating, and she was 23. There were always red flags which I just ignored thinking she’d grow out of it, as I grew out of that same stage. Well she kept me off balance with her constant mood swings and inappropriate behavior, and I began fighting this ongoing battle of connecting dots and leaving it in the back of my mind. I lost trust for her and hated how I had to always keep my eye on her.

    I love her so much, and I realize that deep inside there is just a very hurt, scared, little girl who always felt she was never good enough to please anybody, but at the same time she is an adult who cannot resist succumbing to her insatiable cravings and sexual desires. We had a great sex life but I realized that one man is not enough to please her. I now know that she thought about sex all the time. She’d masterbate, which I don’t have a problem with at all, as I do also, but what I do have a problem with is how she’d sneak out of the house at 3:00, 4:00 in the morning and constantly denying it and lying about it. I caught her cheating and she still denies it and blameshifts, saying that I’m the one who is cheating.

    Our problem is that her narcissism prevents her from taking responsibility for her infidelity and I realize that she will never change. Her depressive phases will continue, as will her manic phases. I am now filing for divorce, and I’m truly devastated. I wish there was something I could do to help her but I have not been able to reason with her in 14 years, and it’s gotten worse as more time has passed. I cannot continue to live this lie. I have not been happy for a long time, but I stayed and allowed my boundaries to continually be pushed and crossed.

    I found out so much that I didn’t know by speaking with others and by stalking her online activity. I’m over that stage now and am proud to say that I’m finally healing. I haven’t seen her in 4 months, and we spent the 3 months prior going back and forth between leaving and coming back home in efforts to reconcile. She continued to deny, lie, and blame shift, so I’ve gone No Contact. I miss her so much but am actually enjoying the peace and quiet without her around. She has discarded me and has moved onto her next victim. I’ve confirmed 6 extra-marital partners, with another dozen “suspected” partners. Again, she is such an awesome woman with many great characteristics, attributes, etc. etc. however, she may not REALY realize the damage she has done to me; the hurt, the confusion, the anxiety, the sorrow, depression, anger, and the resentment she caused. There are so many horrible, terrible, and disgusting things that I can share; things that she has done, but I’m now at the point where I’m close to forgiving her, for everything, as well as forgiving myself.

    I feel like I’m giving up on her, like im throwing in the towel, but then I realize it’s because she has drained me completely. I have nothing left, my tank is empty. I cannot give anymore effort, or else I will die from the toxicity. This experience has had an emotional, mental, and physical affect on me, and I’ve stayed too long. I love her so much and wish that none of this happened, and that we were together, happy. But I accept my reality, that I will grow from this and never ever allow my boundaries, my core values, my undeniable truths to ever be down played, manipulated, or compromised, and that she will go on to cause more havoc in someone else’s life. If you’re out there and if you’re thinking about me, just know that I gave everything, that I loved you and that I wish you the very best.

    Reply
    • September 11, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Wow I was married 13 years got pregnant my husband started cheating. Caught him with one after another. I divorced him when my child was 11 months old. He turned into someone I didn’t even recognize! Always addicted to porn masturbation. And liked talk on hook up sites. We stayed apart a couple years. He came begging saying would do anything to have his family. Swore he was done with everything. I took him back. 2 years later still hook up sites kicked him out. He seeing several women. Just sex I’m sure. Sad part is now I’m thinking he is bipolar. He had been down no sex drive Now he having sex with all kinds of girls. He loves our daughter. I think he loves me. I think he wanted be content but he couldn’t make himself. Now he’s on this high. All these girls wanting him. He has broke me to a million pieces again. I know he’s gonna crash and realize he’s lost what’s important. I’m lost on what to do or how to know if he is truly bipolar.

      Reply
      • May 30, 2017 at 2:16 am

        @ Hurt Mom … if there is one thing I have learned about depression and mania is the following: There is no more self centered and selfish nature illness like depression and mania – manic-depression. It is ALWAY about ME.
        However, I have yet to find a person with a bipolar diagnosis who has lost understanding and logic. You want to find out if he has bipolar disorder? Get a diagnosis Ask him if he cares to go to a psychiatrist, only a psychiatrist can diagnose bipolar disorder, and get checked out.
        It is tough. This either makes one or breaks one. And there is no justification in evading a search for erratic and dangerous behavior, especially being an adult with a spouse and a child. A person with bipolar disorder can still be held accountable. Find a good psychotherapist who can help you navigate through coping mechanisms, which include not being judgmental and learning how to hold each other accountable.
        The best decision is an informed decision arising out of love and responsibility. Please do not lose yourself and forget who you are in the situation you are in. You need to constantly remind yourself that you are valuable, are worthy, are caring, and will take a path that will lead to personal peace for you and your child. It took courage for you to risk a return. Well, the same courage will bring you the truth of your situation. I wish you the best.

        Reply
  • October 4, 2015 at 5:27 am

    All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this post. It had me in tears. I’m understanding the last 10 years of my life for the first time, this post was like changing.

    Reply
  • February 13, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Wow, wow, wow!!!! I wish I had stumbled upon this blog when it was first written!!!! Maybe I would have saved myself and husband a lot of heartache!!! I was diagnosed bp at age 15 and my husband at age 21. We are 9 years apart, he’s now 41 and I’m just a few weeks shy of 33…. I have expirienced hypersexuality as long as I can remember but never put linked it with manic episodes. As I think upon different times in my life, now being educated on the matter, my eyes have been opened! I am generally a lot more manic than depressed but my husband is generally more depressed than manic…. We’ve always just assumed that I have a high sex drive and he has a low one…. Our libidos NEVER align!! And having 5 kids doesn’t help with the actual time we get alone… One thing we’ve always done is make the time, even if it’s gotta be sheduled, wether one of us feels like it or not, we make time to be intamate because we love each other enough to put the other’s needs first… The only down fall is how to deal with The emotions that surface when one of us feels like the other isn’t emotionally there….. We both have felt this which makes us doubt our self confidence and self worth and feel guilty we aren’t good enough…. Then the other feels guilt and like they can’t perform like they wish to or please the other and feel ashamed and hate ourself…. We have both gone through these emotions af different times….. We are continuing to communicate and work thru our issues…. He truly is my best friend and I his. We hardly argue and if we do and can’t agree then we agree to disagree… But both of us are struggling with the extreme emotions that have come about because of our sex life…. Thank you for writing this blog!!! I’m emailing it to my husband now!!! Even if it doesn’t “fix” any emotional issues, now knowing that what we are expiriencing is normal for persons with bp is comforting!!!

    Reply
    • May 30, 2017 at 2:04 am

      @Bpmrried2bp … You commitment is a testimony to all. It takes an incredible amount of patience and drive to handle it the way you state in your comment.
      My observation with this bipolar string is that this removes inhibitions or shuts one down. Both extremes. Hence, bi-polar. You are onto something here now. My wish is that you not be concerned how others think so that you can share more with all your great moments and those you needed help with, and how you stay the course.
      Thank you so much. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  • March 25, 2016 at 1:21 am

    This is one topic that I struggle with so much as a person with bipolar. Or I am bipolar. Wow has that one been…I digress. The point is, I like most people have a very embarrassing and messy past. A lot my mind has blocked out thanks to the wonderful effects of mind numbing medication. But, what I struggle with to this day is what is me and what is the bipolar. When I act on mania, are they my desires and I am giving them voice/opportunity to come out, or are they random acts. Why sex? Why not obsession with chocolate? I have theories, but, having bipolar coupled with a belief in God and strong set of Christian standards, it is very easy to feel guilty about ones past, and unfortunately future actions.

    God understands, yes. Hence the question, is it me acting out on my desires, or does bipolar make chemical connections that lead to actions that we have extreme trouble controlling. I wish I knew the answer. I fear the consequences of the true answer.

    Thank you for bringing up the topic

    Reply
    • December 29, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      ” Nobodyinparticular ”
      I shall give you the answer.
      Bipolar reduces inhibitions and reveals the underlying raw character and moral center ( for better or worse ), that a person has built up over their lifetime. unfortunately, that is often not pretty. People compensate for their deficits with the inhibition of their conscious. If it goes ( which it does when manic ), then what you are left with is the true person.

      Reply
    • May 30, 2017 at 1:52 am

      @Nobodyinparticular: You have a double “WAM”!!!! Your christian values, for the most part, may seem to contradict your reality. As a christian, and I am speaking from the knowledge I have concerning your probable theology believing individual you are probably facing the enigma resulting from a faith that promises healing and yet you face the bipolar daily “being”. Let me try and sort this out: You are not the disease. You are facing and fighting against a disease called bipolar disorder. In your faith, the assurance of healing is there to face disease and finally win, whether today or next month. Biblically speaking, it is referred to faith and hope based on precedent as set forth in Scripture … and boy howdy, is there precedent of the many who needed healing or restoration … to then enjoy it.
      The second “buggar” you deal with is the “religious culture” – aka how church members or leaders or both may see you. You might feel the pressure to “be and appear” conforming to the picture provided by the message of final victory. Just stop there. Final means that there is a lot in between. That is called “a process”. That is what biblical grace is for and what redemption corrects. So, and here is the difficult part to accept: The same way the someone hollered “Jesus son of David, have mercy on me!!!!” no one of your faith should develop the attitude that they are above a “Jesus son of David, have mercy on me!!!!” reality. That is where you are now: The grace and mercy call. It is humbling.
      The stigma: “But I will be perceived as weak!!! ๐Ÿ™ ” So??? What about that??? A celebrity once commented that if industry leaders were surrounded by all glass walls that things that are made would be made differently. My response to him was: “If you would live your life surrounded by all glass walls, you would too, and at that, might have never been a celebrity. It is easy to judge. That is not challenging. What is challenging is “to live”!!!!! And that is the outcry I observe in these comments. If you are a christian, just show up and expect, and if “it” does not happen, back down the your corner to cool off, have your support group pick a towel to fan over you and refresh you. An enjoy the rope-a-dope, I mean, no one enjoys not being in control. So, a step at a time, celebrate the moment(s) you are in control of your emotion state – the moments you can tell you are neither manic nor depressed. Thank God for it. That is what I mean by “enjoy the rope-a-dope” – – – the boxing ring.
      That is what I have learned from the christian theology and have observed great men and women christian leaders who teach, inspire, and preach victory and healing and restoration but not at the expense of the sick but rather remaining by those who are.
      As for the desire, “is it me or the bipolar?” It is both. It is your brain. And your brain affects all of you. That does not mean it is your fault or that you are weak. What it means is this: You have identified it by not denying it —- a HUGE STEP and I congratulate you for it. You now have a starting place. It is also you. Sex education is poooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrllllllllyyyyyyy taught in christian circles. In the name of purity and holiness man made ideas are taught dogmatically as they are endorsed by scripture. Yet, when I challenged a teacher one time this is how I did it. I asked: What are the limits that scripture sets to define sex as pure and sex as sin??? Well my, only a few limitations were found. The discussion stopped, and unfortunately I believe it was later changed in time. The ones at a loss: Those who wanted to really know. Per your faith, sexual desires are God’s design in the knot of marriage and nowhere else. So, why in the world would any adherent not enjoy the freedom that can only be found in such a knot called marriage???? It is beyond me. The number of couples in their middle age suffering from “he all drive and she’s not or vice-versa” is staggering. Really staggering.
      So, you have a faith that can actually help you. You have a support group that can help you. And now my question is: Why would you or anyone else hold back on questions such as yours??? I say ask ask ask and ask. Believe believe and believe. In the same way that I do not wake up free of pain every morning but still follow the plan called “getting ready for work and earn a living”, I do not always feel aroused nor well but when my partner want intimacy and sex … I do my very best to satisfy her to the fullest with whatever she wants because she is my partner.
      In the manic state it can get exhausting … when not prepared. Now, with this knowledge, I can set aside energy to be prepared, still attend clinical therapy, still believe … and leave the results on the one I trust. Because, my friend, feeling it or not, the ultimate result comes from the process I worked through which also includes what I place my faith in.
      My target: Being able to look myself in the mirror and honestly with integrity say that I gave it all I had, being forgiven from all I was guilty of and forgiving those who offended me … for no apparent reason. I wish you the best of fortune and may you discover beauty in your process called the journey in living.

      Reply
  • October 23, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Women with bi polar can be very dangerous.

    Reply
  • May 30, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    This was almost too hard to read. It brought back a lot of the hurt my wife caused with her BPII and all of the adultery she committed. I have more questions than answers. Why sex as opposed to something less hurtful? Why couldn’t the husband of 23 years fulfill the sexual need?

    Reply
 

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