Okay, I swear I’ve set up the mood tracker chart for this week because this is what, the third week in a row now that I haven’t done it?
So what have I noticed in myself? The last few times I’ve posted a self assessment, I was fairly certain I was either sliding into depression or right in it even though I didn’t always feel sad. This is something I have talked to my therapist about and we both agreed that it would be good if I started bringing in the trackers. Because I think that for the most part it’s my behaviors and habits that clue me in for depression whereas I can FEEL my hypomania coming on.
And that’s where I think I’m swinging over to now. There were slight hints of it last Tuesday that I didn’t notice until my therapist asked a few key questions. Particularly in regards to hypersexuality. Apparently something I said in passing flagged her. It wasn’t me saying, “I feel this way.” But I was expressing frustration, concerns, and worries about the dating scene in the future.
I’m not going to be quick to chalk it up this one symptom, but it does seem odd to me on a logical level that my brain is obsessing over it when the divorce doesn’t even have a court date yet. Not saying I want to date. I’m actually freaking out over the idea to be honest, but on the other hand being alone all the time really fucking blows.
So how much of this is situational, and thus normal? How much of this is my brain trying to fry itself like usual? I don’t know. I just know that the last few days I haven’t really wanted to sleep but rather wanted to DO THINGS instead. Not like weeks earlier where I couldn’t sleep because of unpleasant thoughts or dreams waking me up only to not remember them once I got the blanket off me. I’m waking up before the FIRST alarm clock goes off in the morning.
Now for those that don’t know me, I have THREE morning alarms that go off every damn day year round and a fourth one for school days. The first is to get me out of bed. Second is to get the boys out of bed. Third for the morning meds and the fourth is to remind everyone it’s time to round up and get out the door for the school bus. Phew. Mornings suck. Yet here I am getting out of bed as of late before ALL of that. So this is one behavioral clue if you will as to my current mood state.
But hypomania also has a feeling to it. Do any of you remember the soda Jolt? I don’t see them around where I live anymore (probably a good thing…) but when I was in highschool we used to chug these in multiples (like 3 cans or more) all at once.
There’s a feeling that you’d get just before the sugar and caffeine high hits you. The low side of hypomania feels similar to that for me and it’s my brain doing that all by itself. The high end of hypomania is far more extreme than this. It’s like riding in a go cart on a set of hand rails (you know, for like a flight of stairs) at high speeds with no steering wheel or brakes.
I can’t imagine what full blown mania feels like beyond this point. I’ve been told I’ve never hit that end of the Bipolar spectrum, but I don’t know so I have to trust the specialists on this one. If they’re telling me that my highest high is not full blown mania, even though I believe them because I don’t see a reason for them to lie to me about this, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that. It really is one of those things you have to experience first hand to truly understand.
But unlike Jolt or other energy drinks where the shit wears off after a fixed amount of time, hypomania wears off when the brain decides to stop doing whatever the fuck it’s doing to cause the effect. So it can last as short as a few hours or as long as seven years or more. Either way, you’re stuck for the full duration of the ride whether you like it or not.
Hypersexuality is a similar case. It’s not something you just turn on or off. It’s not like say, taking Viagra or something like that and know that it will last for “x amount of time” and then wears off. You have no power of when the brain kicks that shit in or when it shuts it down. And the worst part is we have nothing in the way of treatment for it other than to control hypomania and mania episodes since it appears to be connected with that.
Now I could get all clinical and explain it that way. I also have some opinions as to why more women seek help for it then men do thus making it appear that women suffer from it more than men. But if you think about our cultures and how we handle sexuality between genders it makes sense. I feel no need to preach about it one way or the other beyond saying I feel it’s unfair that because I embraced this part of myself in my younger days I was ostracized in many social circles. And I feel that if it weren’t for the PTSD, I still would be embracing that part of myself. But the PTSD doesn’t change or prevent my brain from doing what my brain does.
So what is hypersexuality like exactly? I can’t speak for anyone else but for me simply put… it’s being in a constant state of foreplay even though no one is touching you – not even yourself. Suddenly certain fabrics become problematic to wear. Air current across the skin is insane. You become acutely aware of how people smell – for better or worse. Driving down a dirt road is a fucking crisis. “I swear officer I didn’t mean to drive into the telephone pole, but I wasn’t expecting my car to become a high powered vibrator…” is not a conversation I that EVER want to have and one I fear every time. Every. Time. And these are just some of the non-sex related symptoms dealing with hypersexuality.
And this is why I get frustrated when every article I read that addresses it talks about the infidelity it causes. I don’t think it causes that in every person who suffers from hypersexuality. I think it has to do with the level of risk tasking that individual is willing to take at baseline because hypomania and mania bumps that level up by several degrees. So if you are naturally risk adverse, when you do get bumped up it may appear to be normal levels of risk taking to the general population. Meanwhile if you are naturally a risk taker of some level, it just gets kicked up even higher.
So the blanket statement of “hypersexuality causes infidelity” is bullshit if you ask me.
Not saying that infidelity is a non-issue or not a risk ever. It is for anyone really – especially if the relationship is lacking in some way for the individual in question. And if the risk aversion is low in the individual, then the likelihood of it happening increases.
While PTSD doesn’t stop hypersexuality from kicking in, it still impacts my response to it and behavior while under its effects. In many ways now, I feel like I could dress like a nun and still have a big giant neon sign floating over my head flashing “ASKING FOR IT” in bright bold letters. It’s not a comfortable feeling to have when you’re out in public. Especially now that life has taught me that there are assholes out there that specifically seek out and target people like me for the sole purpose of causing harm for one reason or another.
Meanwhile there are other people, who may have meant well in the beginning, start treating you like their personal sex toy. That’s not cool either. Like I said before, there’s no “ON/OFF” switch for this and I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t enjoy being tossed into the social equivalent of a closet between “uses” for the lack of a better term.
I am a person damn it and I deserve to be treated like one.
And then there is a darker side of all this that I have never seen anyone anywhere talk about. I look back at my younger days and find myself wondering how many times have I crossed the line into questionable consent. It’s an ugly place to find yourself in. It’s icky. But I know back then there were times I was pushy about it. Makes me wonder in those times if they said yes because they felt they needed to or if they honestly wanted to. Yes folks, it goes both ways regardless of gender. I stand firm on that. I also realize that I stand just shy of 5 feet tall. Physically, I’m not intimidating to anyone. But the concern I have remains.
And that’s what it was that I was discussing with my therapist. How do you trust someone with what you have? When you know you have this thing that drives you the way it does. I mean we’re talking about having an orgasm and literally 5 minutes later being ready to go again. And being in this state of readiness all the time for the entire duration when it hits. You have to worry about being hurt again – physically and emotionally. And you have to worry about hurting the other person as well.
It boils down to having strong, hard-line boundaries on both sides. The word “no” HAS to mean “no” for both people. And, for me at least, a plan of some kind needs to be in place for those times when I’m in that state and the answer is “no” and how to handle that gracefully without being pushy or, heaven forbid, outright abusive about it. There needs to be an understanding that during depression that the sex drive dies off completely. It’s not even on my radar most of the time and when it is, it’s an extreme aversion reaction. If I can’t find someone where this can be built successfully, then I don’t foresee having a successful relationship at all.