Manic Sex Cravings

If any of my family members or anyone else that might not want to hear about my sex life because it may a) scar you or b) cause you to react negatively (judging, gossiping, etc.), please do the right thing and hit the little “X” at the top right corner of your screen now. Everyone else: Welcome to my world!

Being manic for a short period of time can be quite nice. My mood is pleasant and uplifted, I feel more articulate and creative than when I’m depressed, I have more energy and drive so I accomplish more things in shorter amounts of time, and I feel more like a “normal” human. Yes, I know that the word, “normal” is bullshit but that’s how I feel right now, with one exception: I can’t get enough sex.

I’m not usually a very sexually active person. Like, I don’t typically want to have sex more than once or twice a month (right before my period, when my lady hormones are doing their best to make me pass on my genes). When I’m very depressed, I go months without sex or any other related activity. I assume that other people go through sexual spurts (no pun intended) like I do. The difference comes with mania.

When I’m manic, which I am now, I am sexually insatiable. I have sex with my husband multiple times a night, do wilder things in bed, masturbate daily, dream about sex, daydream about sex…you get the point. This is great fun for a day or two. My husband is a good sport, dealing with the decreased sleep and the physical pain from overworked muscles and reproductive parts like a champ. After about three days, which is where I am now, it gets to be too much for both of us. But I still want more.

I cannot speak for my husband’s pain but the most common problems that I experience after too much sexy time are fatigue, painfully sensitive and swollen labia and vagina, and vaginal dryness. These things cause discomfort throughout the day and they’re downright problematic when I try to continue my sexscapades. It doesn’t stop when I’m asleep either.

When I’m manic, I have realistic dreams involving sex. I usually get to the point just before satisfaction, be it penetration or orgasm, and then I wake up. This is slightly frustrating, so I end up masturbating or having fun with my husband. He works most weekdays and Saturdays, so I’m usually on my own. No problem. This girl knows how to take care of herself.

Funny manic story: Several years ago, I was a volunteer co-leader for a scout troop in a small rural village. My fellow co-leader hosted a Pure Romance party and invited me. After the Pure Romance independent sales consultant gave her spiel and passed around a variety of gadgets, lubes, etc., she announced that the party attendees would get to choose one product that would be offered for a discounted rate at that party. When it came time to vote, nobody suggested anything so I called out the name of a butt plug. The other party attendees got strange looks of confusion and amusement on their faces. I would not have done that it I weren’t manic. Discounted butt plugs for everyone!

I have been debating writing this post because it shares some private information about my intimate life, but I love full disclosure and this blog is about my entire life bipolar, not just the things that are easy or safe to talk about. So I hope that you found this informative or at least interesting. If not, you prolly shouda hit that X in the beginning like I told you to 😉

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Naming Your Feelings

In everyday society, I have learned that when most people ask, “How are you feeling today?,” they don’t really want to know the truth (or at least the full truth) so “I’m fine, how are you?” is our automatic response, which is often a lie and deflects the question away from ourselves and onto the other person. I am guilty of this and find it problematic for a number of reasons, mainly that I feel “fake” when I don’t answer truthfully/fully and that I think that this action doesn’t support good emotional health.

I don’t think that I need to explain why the response leaves me feeling fake when I use it, so I’ll dive right into the emotional health bit. If you have ever been to talk therapy, you know that the first question that is asked of you every time you visit is, “How are you feeling today?” In this situation, the therapist wants an honest answer from you and “I’m okay,” “Fine, thank you,” “Not good,” and other vague replies usually don’t cut it. For instance, I tend to say “I’m feeling okay,” at which point my therapist asks me “What does that mean? What feelings do you identify with right now?” The first time that a therapist asked me this and wouldn’t give up, I must have looked lost because I have a hard time putting a name on my feelings. Luckily, this particular therapist was quite resourceful. She dug around in her file cabinet for a few minutes, found a handout, and made me a copy of something very similar to this:

How Do You Feel
Image credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/07/76/24/0776245ef14968c0b0f6074553ca3000.jpg

As I sat across from my therapist, I felt bad about myself because I had a difficult time naming my feelings even with the help of this handout. The official word for this condition is alexithymia, and this is what Wikipedia teaches us about it:

…a personality construct characterized by the subclinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self. The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating. Furthermore, alexithymics have difficulty in distinguishing and appreciating the emotions of others, which is thought to lead to unempathic and ineffective emotional responding. Alexithymia occurs in approximately 10% of the population and can occur with a number of psychiatric conditions.

While my therapist and other mental health professionals never offered me this label, which I find morbidly ironic, she had me bring my “How Do You Feel Today?” handout to every session. I would look at each face at the beginning of our meeting and try to decide if that was how I felt. There were at least a handful of faces/words on my list like demure, loaded, purlish, and surly that I simply couldn’t relate to and my personal list of feelings was extremely limited (happy, sad, angry, bored, disappointed, frustrated, lonely, overwhelmed, scared, hopeful, proud, tired, and worried). Eavesdropping was also on the list, which really confused me. Isn’t that an action, not a feeling? I mean, you can feel like eavesdropping on someone, but that’s an urge to take action. I digress. My original handout, with my added list of feelings:

How Do You Feel Today?

A Facebook friend posted something today that made me start thinking about all of this:

Emoticons
Emoticons explained. Credit: Shira Dotnet.

Lightbulb moment! I have been frustrated with myself because I always use the same boring emoticons: 🙂 & <3. I realized today that it’s probably because I have a hard time matching the expression to the feeling! I saved Shira’s post. I don’t really care if I use emoticons on my personal accounts, but I have a small business and I want to use them more in those posts.

Almost a decade later, I choose not to attend therapy regularly anymore but I continue to try to get more in touch with my feelings in terms of putting a name on them. I just found the term, alexithymia, today and I am 100% certain that I have it, as I have issues with social attachment, interpersonal relating, and emotional responding too. I plan to learn more about it. After reading a little, I found out that it is not considered to be a mental disorder in the DSM-IV, but rather a personality trait that can influence mental health. The cause is unknown. Also from Wikipedia:

A person’s alexithymia score can be measured with questionnaires such as the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (BVAQ), the Online Alexithymia Questionnaire (OAQ-G2) or the Observer Alexithymia Scale (OAS).

Do you struggle with identifying feelings? How do you cope? Do you have any tips for becoming more aware of your feelings? Please share!

Le Chat Domestique
The Domestic Cat and His Character. I purchased this poster while strolling along the Seine River in Paris in 2005.

It’s Not What You Think

Rich Larsen wrote a very nice tribute to Chris Cornell that discusses what grunge music is really about. Please read it by following the link below.

“You might think grunge is about anger, but that’s not completely true. Yes, it can sound that way, but it’s really about depression and cynicism. Those two go hand-in-hand, along with their nasty little sister, anxiety. When the three of them get going, they just eat hope as quickly as it can be summoned. That leaves despair and despair is exhausting, not just for those who experience it, but for the people around it as well. So we keep it to ourselves because we don’t want to be a burden. And then it gets to be too much. Doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a mom, an accountant or a rock star. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written about it your entire life as a means of keeping it at bay. It doesn’t matter if the music you made about it brought in fame, respect and millions of dollars. It doesn’t matter if your entire generation has suffered from it. Depression makes you feel totally alone. You hit the breaking point, and then, like Chris Cornell, you die alone in the bathroom.”

Source: It’s not what you think

My Experience with Geodon

Ziprasidone (the generic form of the antipsychotic drug Geodon) was prescribed to me in the spring of this year because I was experiencing a long-lasting bout of moderate to severe bipolar depression with episodes of rapid cycling bipolar and intrusive suicidal thoughts. Ziprasidone is used to treat acute manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder and to treat symptoms of schizophrenia. It is also used as a maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder when added to lithium or valproate (Depakote). I took the medication as prescribed (1 20mg capsule by mouth at bedtime with food) along with my other meds (depakote extended release, trazodone, metformin) for four days before I had to stop. Geodon caused me to wake up in the middle of the night every night and have strange thoughts. More specifically, I wanted to go outside and run as fast as I could through the woods behind our house. My sleep was disturbed despite taking trazodone at night for sleep. Complete prescribing information can be found here. FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) can be found here.

Oops

Oops, it has been a minute since I posted. That’s the nature of bipolar. Sometimes I’m hyper-motivated and productive and other times I drop all projects and veg out for weeks or months at a time. Just wanted to pop in and say that I’m here. I’m dealing with rapid cycling, health issues, and employment changes so life is a struggle at the moment, but things will get better.

I rarely experience mania or rapid cycling, so it’s interesting when I do. One of the up sides of mania for me is increased sex drive. The down side to this is that I can be insatiable. So there’s that. Can’t get enough. I’m wearing my husband out.

I often feel more angry when I’m manic too. I keep going to sleep wondering if I could punch through the bedroom wall. I’m not sure why I’m angry at night, but I bet that I could punch through the wall. It’s plaster because our house is like 116 years old. I don’t want to have to fix the wall though, so I’m making responsible choices. Win.

Anyway, just wanted to check in and let you know what I’m up to. I’ll make an effort to post more regularly 😉

Shameless

I started watching Shameless on Netflix about a month ago and I am halfway through season 5 already. I like it for several reasons, one of which is the excellent portrayal of bipolar disorder in both Monica and Ian Gallagher. Spoiler alert: if you haven’t watched through season 5 episode 8, you may want to skip this post for now.

I didn’t “get” Monica until the Thanksgiving dinner episode, at which time I knew as soon as she stood up from the table that she was going to do something terrible. In terms of “highs” and “lows,” I spend most of my time depressed and I tend to get suicidal. Unfortunately, I also get impulsive. As Monica and Ian show us, depressed + suicidal + impulsive = danger.

When Ian was acting strange after going MIA from the army, I wasn’t sure if it was drugs or mania but when he wouldn’t get out of bed for days, I knew.

The one thing that I would say is that my experience in psych wards was slightly different from what Monica and Ian experienced. I have been in three different wards. Two things:

  1. Psych wards have nightly “checks,” in which hospital staff look into your room at night to make sure that you are in bed, okay, and that you’re not getting into trouble. So, Monica’s nighttime sexytime with the other patient is something that isn’t likely to happen.
  2. The guard at the hospital got rough with Ian. I have never experienced or witnessed unnecessary force in a psych ward. I’m sure that it happens, but I don’t think it is common.

I’m up to the point where Ian says that he flushed his meds because they make him feel awful. If you have never taken medicine for a mental illness, you can’t possibly understand what it’s like. And you can’t understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness if you don’t have one, but this show can help you to get a feeling for it. It’s refreshing to see bipolar accurately portrayed in a show. I tried watching Homeland, a series in which Claire Danes plays a CIA agent with bipolar disorder. I thought that show did okay, but Shameless does much better. Consider watching it.