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Please Don’t Take Advantage of my Hypersexuality

By Iregi Mwenja | Oct 20th 2016 | 5 min read

I want to talk about a taboo subject today. A problem that affects many people in our society that no one wants to talk about. Many people suffer in silence and are unable to get help for fear of stigmatization. Let us talk about hyper sexuality and Bipolar Disorder.

Hyper sexuality may present itself as just one aspect in a constellation of problems, however it is often the most destructive and challenging part of bipolar disorder, yet no one wants to talk about it!

Moreover, while hyper sexuality is listed as one of the primary symptoms of bipolar in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), many psychiatrists refer to it almost as an afterthought - if at all - when forming a diagnosis. Even the patients hardly bring it up during assessment, relegating this serious symptom into obscurity.

However, one courageous lady decided to break the code of silence and talked to me about her experience.

Judy Kwamboka is a 30-year-old woman from Nakuru County. She was born in Bahati and attended nearby schools before joining University of Nairobi. She studied Sociology and later returned for her Masters on the same subject. Despite her good education, Judy has not been able to maintain a regular job for long.

Her childhood and adolescence life was not different from girls her age until one day when she traveled to her auntie’s place in Kisii that something very unusual happened. She met this handsome boy and instantly ‘fell in love’.

They met in secrecy in banana plantations and their talk gradually graduated into flirting. As days went by, their bond became stronger and Judy noticed that she was getting obsessed with Paul who was her first love.

Things took a new turn one day when Paul touched her breast and she felt powerless. She did not resist and Paul took this as a cue to proceed. It was after his hand went further south that she felt a powerful spams move through her body. This body reaction bolted her into action and she took off with lightning speed.

Judy returned to Nakuru after the end of the school holidays but the incident haunted her like a bad dream. She couldn’t get her mind off her new boyfriend. It had developed into an obsession with him and she fantasized about their encounter all the time. She thought this was normal for a 19 year old but had no idea what diagnosis awaited her.

A few months later, she joined Campus and learnt that Paul had moved on and found a new girlfriend. She was heartbroken. According to Judy, her feelings for him had turned into sexual fantasies that grew into a powerful internal force that came with other strange symptoms. They included excessive happiness, excitement, irritability, restlessness, increased energy, less need for sleep, racing thoughts, and a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans.

Little did she know that those were symptoms of mania in bipolar disorder. For the next 4 years, she moved from one doctor to the next looking for diagnosis and cure but to no avail. Her worried mother even sought the help of a witch doctor since all she talked about was Paul when she became manic.

Everyone in her family believed that Paul had used a ‘kamuti’ on her and hence her condition. Her relatives back in Kisii pursued Paul with a murderous rage. He went into hiding, hopping from one relative to the next, as the Judy’s relatives followed him in hot pursuit.

Seven years later, Judy got her correct diagnosis and was put on the right medication for the first time since her first symptoms started. She had Bipolar 1 disorder and the medicines were controlling her sexual impulsivity and obsession. Paul was innocent. Luckily, he escaped with his life.

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by drastic mood swings - between feeling elated, energetic, and risky to feeling sad and disinterested. These drastic swings are called episodes of mania and depression, and they are the classic signs of bipolar disorder. Not everyone has these drastic swings; some people with bipolar disorder swing back and forth between depressive and somewhat elated states.

During bipolar mania, a tendency toward poor decision-making occurs along with an increase in impulsivity. Sex drive also increases. These symptoms combined often lead individuals with bipolar disorder toward their own sexual extremes, at least during manic episodes.

Hyper sexuality involves “excessive interest” in sexual subject matter and activities. Hyper sexual behavior may express itself in a variety of ways, such as increased desire for sex, infidelity, interest pornography, masturbation, risky sexual behavior etc.

People with Bipolar are not necessarily sex addict. People with bipolar disorder experience hyper sexuality only as often as they experience the kind of mania that induces it - which, for most, is relatively infrequent. However, people who experience sexual addiction cannot be said to catch a break from their hyper sexual tendencies; they live with them day and night

Jess Melancholia, a blogger positively living with Bipolar 2 writes in her blog, “The worst part is you don’t feel sick and since sex is such a taboo topic, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of sympathy or support for someone struggling with hyper sexuality. You are labeled as a whore or a “stupid fucking slut”. You feel like shit. The pain and guilt of what you did weighs heavily on you and, unlike the flu or even depression, no one feels sorry for you.”

Hyper sexuality with bipolar disorder isn't a separate condition or problem that needs its own treatment — it's a symptom of bipolar disorder. Once the bipolar disorder is successfully treated and mood swings and symptoms are under control, those hypersexual feelings will dissipate.

Once the disease is under control, people with bipolar disorder often react differently to sex and their past behaviors. In a society like ours where sex is a taboo subject, people with bipolar have no one to talk to; they have absolutely no support system. They are on their own on this matter.

Judy confessed to me that I was the first person she ever confided with about her past experiences and struggle with hyper sexuality. She was happy that there was someone who listened to her and did not judge her. Someone who understood that hyper sexuality is a symptom of a disease and not an identity of her normal healthy self.

She admits that her hyper sexuality placed her into compromising situations leading to casual sex. On three of such occasions, neighbors and friends took advantage of her inability to control her impulses and raped her.

Luckily, she has been able to overcome has past experiences through professional help. Her medication has controlled her symptoms and she longer worries about unplanned sex. She is now peer support specialists in a group that help bipolar patients live positively with their condition by religiously taking their medication.

Psychiatric Disability Organization offers people like Judy with strong social support systems – a platform where they can meet their peers and offer support, share and learn from each other. PDO also have counselors who provide psychotherapy to help people with mental illness to manage symptoms of their illness.

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