Let's embrace the 'darkness' and talk about sex - Day 28/ #100DaysofMentalHealth8:13:00 AM
Day 28/ #100DaysofMentalHealth is about embracing the 'darkness' (or what we have been taught to see as darkness) and is inspired by Mona Eltahawy, an amazing woman I fell in love with the moment she opened her mouth at #AspenIdeasFestival.
Do women have sex drives or not is a question she asks in Pg 13 of her book Headscarves And Hymens and this question really made me pause and make notes like every other paragraph in her book.(Mona be warned I think I am writing a sequel)
The living with a dual diagnosis side of my life was quick to answer this question, one because during many of my talks people have asked, can someone with epilepsy have sex, yes they can; their diagnosis doesn't numb their biological make up and no you can't get epilepsy through sex...some way you can't get a mental health condition through intercourse as one of the many people who once cyber bullied me suggested when I shared about rape and the aftermath that my mental health diagnosis...that said I wrote the following in my journal to answer Mona's question;
'Some things are painted as darkness even before we see the light in them, we are taught to be afraid of them and if we dare cross that line of fear marked out for us, shame is the weapon used against us...we are not to speak up and if we really really really have to share, we are advised to do it in whispers and to use filters so that it still has some darkness in it and if we dare embrace the darkness and make it our light, we automatically become outcasts'
One side of living with bipolar we rarely talk about is the hypersexuality symptom. The most those who know about the illness (including those diagnosed and surprisingly some of the psychiatrists who do the diagnosis) is that it is a 'mood disorder' (loosely put) characterised by periods of mania (high energy) and depression (low energy) - again I say loosely put. What we rarely hear about is how aroused, like out of this world arousal, one gets...alot of women living with bipolar live their lives in guilt and shame because culture (society) and religion has taught women how wrong it is to desire sex, not to openly speak about those desires, we are taught at an early age to wait until we are approached and if we do not wait, we are selling ourselves short, that our social credit goes down with every sexual desire we have and no one would ever want us and that as a woman we should want to be wanted...that society has no room for 'loose' women.
Not to discredit the natural (biological) but what happens to those of us who experience this as part of our diagnosis? It is worse enough that we are stigmatised and discriminated against because of our diagnosis what do we do about this symptom? Something that is the complete opposite of the 'norm'? Why do we have to die in guilt and shame and live in darkness because we are afraid of what the light will show about an illness we have yet those with any other illness are 'allowed' to have symptoms that come with their diagnosis and called brave for not hiding them?
I can go on and on, but will leave it here with these words; to any woman(or man) living with bipolar,
1. Hypersexuality is a symptom of your illness, just like the mania that makes you speak real fast or the depression that makes you be in bed for days on end and makes you wonder why you are still alive.
2. Do not feel guilty or ashamed because of this symptom, also do not let it define you because you are more than your diagnosis (or a sex drive) instead embrace what society has labelled as darkness and take it a step ahead to learn your triggers just as you should with the other mania symptoms and depression symptoms of your diagnosis.
3. Get a partner (or an accountability partner). From personal experience, I have worked through this symptom by acknowledging it's existence and having the best accountability partner ever(our journey began here)... embracing this 'darkness' has played an overall role in my recovery journey which has seen me be seizure free and without any episodes of mania and depression for 6 months now.
4. Also work towards taking care of yourself and your partner(s) and take it a day at a time...Remember you are in charge and some days you win, celebrate those and some days you lose, remind yourself there is nothing to be ashamed of., you are more than your diagnosis and it's symptoms.