I’m quite open about my mental illness and my sex drive. Chatting to a bloke I met on twitter I was really interested in how he managed his Hypersexuality and mental illness, so interested, I asked him to write something for the blog about it. So here goes…
Hypersexuality, or sex addiction, when it comes to media reports. Sounds great doesn’t it? A constant need for sex or sexual attention. Up until recently it was termed nymphomania. The subject of endless 70s and 80s porn films.
The reality for me was a debilitating, relationship destroying urge towards riskier and riskier encounters which almost always ended in disaster, guilt and recrimination.
I’ve suffered bipolar since 1999 and have had countless periods of hypersexuality. Affairs, illicit encounters, visits to prostitutes. And after the return to normality the crashing realisation of what I had done and what I had put at risk.
Eventually in 2009 my marriage ended. It became too much to bear for her and she politely but firmly asked me to leave. When, three days later, I found myself at a massage parlour I realised that this need, this urge, whatever this was, was a massive problem and that I needed help.
Doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, they all tried to medicate, help and explain what my problem was but no one had the cure. I discovered that hypersexulity was one of the least discussed symptoms of mental illness. But one of the most destructive for families.
On the cycle continued until one day I met someone who was different. This wasn’t another encounter. This was someone I was falling in love with. As time went on we became closer and closer entwined. I moved in with her and her family and, whilst I was still quite ill with bipolar, life seemed to be getting better.
But the hypersexuality was still there, lurking in the background. Pornography helped for a while but the itch got worse and would not be calmed. Messages to past girlfriends, emails, secret phone calls. Until the day I left my phone behind. And it gave up my secrets like the worst kind of snitch. My whole secret existence laid bare.
This situation couldn’t continue if I wanted to carry on with the relationship. That much was made abundantly clear. And I did, a lot. I’d never been happier or felt more secure than I did at that point in my life. Slowly over many months a plan formed. My partner is a very sexual person, open to new ideas. So if we became more adventurous as a couple, S suggested, maybe by trying swinging and dogging, would that be enough to stop the more destructive side of my behaviour?
Now, don’t get me wrong. We didn’t explore this avenue purely to stop me misbehaving. Swinging was something we had discussed and were both keen to try. But as a cure for hypersexuality? Well it was worth a try.
You see, the way S looked at it, behaviour of any kind only becomes a problem when it’s harmful or destructive. Take away the harm, take away the problem. We started slow. Playing for others to watch, having sex whilst others masturbated, eventually allowing others to touch whilst we touched them. Alongside this, a new era of openness. No more phone passwords, Regular “audits” of messages and emails, no more secrets.
Now, two years later, we are deeply involved in the swinging scene, we meet couples, we have both explored our sexuality, and both found interests in things we had never thought of previously. Do I suffer from hypersexuality? Absolutely, but now it has a safe, non-destructive, non-harmful outlet.
And as a couple, it has brought us closer together. There are no secrets, ever. Why would there be? We share everything. Thoughts, ideas, fantasies, partners. But with this proviso. Playing outside these parameters will NEVER be acceptable. But with parameters like ours, that suits me just fine.
This is something which is rarely talked about. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.