Bipolar is My Boyfriend: Let's Talk About Sex - But Like, Bipolar Sex
Bipolar is My Boyfriend:
Let's Talk About Sex - But Like, Bipolar Sex
A Weekly Column by Kala Wahl
Everyone has a slut phase. It’s cuter to refer to it as a slut phase, rather than a seeking validation from all the wrong people through various sexual acts phase. There’s nothing wrong with it; we’ve all been there. But slut phases tend to be kind of fun, or so I’ve heard, and I was having trouble understanding why my slut phase just wasn’t fun.
I had a friend catch syphilis in Florida from a threesome during her’s, and when she texted me about it, I consciously made the decision to handle the matter with care:
“Are you okay?” I asked her.
“Fuck yeah. Just sucked some dick by the beach.”
“I’m talking about the syphilis,” I clarified. If we were talking in person, I would have quieted my voice when saying syphilis, like most parents do when they say the word sex in a sentence.
“Oh, yeah, I got the meds. I can only suck dick now. But I g2g, I’m about to suck some more dick.”
And just like that, she had bounced back and was ready to go. Whether it was the laid-back Florida ambiance surrounding her, or just my friend’s inclination to never care about anything—even syphilis, I felt envious of her slut phase. Dick on the beach? Sign me up.
My friend sounded like she was having fun. And I wasn’t.
I was like a lost Dorothy travelling along the Yellow Brick Road of slutiness. I wanted to have sex and lots of it. Instead of winding up at the Palace of Oz, however, I ended up at a local Hooter’s restaurant; it was the next best thing, I guess. I was eighteen when I slid on the orange hot pants for the first time and began my sexual awakening, for $8.52 an hour plus tips. The restaurant was like a candy store of men, all assorted flavors and sizes, regardless of whether or not they actually tasted or looked good—senior citizens, soldiers, tourists, rednecks, guys who vape, married men, construction workers, you name the type...they’re probably having wings right now at Hooter’s. I went out with customers after my shifts. I let them spoil me with movie tickets and trips to chain steakhouses like Outback or Longhorn. Then we’d have sex in my car or something. It wasn’t romantic and I didn’t need it to be, but it wasn’t fun either. That, I at least, expected it to be: fun.
I wasn’t forcing myself to do anything; I genuinely wanted to have sex with these men. When I wasn’t enthusiastically initiating it, I was reciprocating advances for sex as happily as one accepts a long awaited Amazon package. The build-up was always exciting, the affirmation was validating, but the action itself couldn’t have been more disappointing. I always felt a certain kind of way afterwards. It would all happen so quickly and then I’d be left with an empty kind of feeling. It was like no amount of sex was ever enough. I’d tell myself it’d be better the next time and it never would be. But I couldn’t stop myself from having it. I couldn’t control the urge.
Maybe the Catholics were right, I thought, maybe sex is only pleasurable in a loving relationship with your spouse and God.
My habits only worsened when I moved away for college, and what I thought was my slut phase extended itself. I didn’t know where it was going, or when it was going to end, and I was starting to become scared. I didn’t understand why sex was so different for me. I didn’t understand why I wanted it so bad, but yet felt as hollow as a carved pumpkin once I had it. At twenty, I became an escort within Chicago’s Loop. My evenings were spent in hotel rooms, eating room service cheeseburgers and having sex for amounts of money that were much lower than what I asked for. I did this impulsively; I didn’t care about safety or my well-being. It was an out-of-body experience to lose control over my functioning like that.
It’s never a call you want to give back home to your mom, that you’ve been having sex for money and something bad happened. Because moms see so much potential in their kids or whatever, and getting horribly infected from paid sex doesn’t necessarily fit that idea. I could write more on my experience as an escort, but that’s an essay for another day. But if you ever wanna know, you can ask me.
I had hit rock bottom. Something was wrong with me and it was time to get diagnosed.
Hypersexuality is a byproduct of a manic bipolar episode. Manic episodes can last a couple of weeks or a couple of months (perhaps, in my case, a few years), and are characterized by increased energy, agitation, and notably, risk-taking behavior (NIMH, 2016). My hypersexuality is the crux of my bipolar disorder, the biggest symptom I have to deal with unmedicated. My mood swings even come second to this. Some people experience heightened sexual activity with their mania and others don’t. Whereas someone might feel more compelled to abuse drugs during their episode, those with hypersexuality instead abuse sex. It becomes incredibly compulsive and consuming—almost like an addiction.
I think it’s important to talk about the aspects of mental illness that are so gross they make you want to take a shower. Mental illness is hardly ever clean. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed about my experiences with my hypersexuality and manic episodes, because they’re very essential to my bipolar. And I’m not ashamed of my bipolar.
I’m twenty-two now, medicated, and my slut phase has come and gone. The memoir, however, has yet to come. I’m already thinking about possible cast options to play myself in the biopic. I don’t want to be too ambitious, but I feel like it’d be a good role for a Disney star.