Good on you for being brave enough to start a conversation about something that is often difficult to discuss. I'm sure this is something that affects many people, yet the topic tends to be bypassed. I imagine this leaves people feeling quite isolated, not realising that others are experiencing similar issues.
Have you spoken to your partner/s about this, or do you have any other supports to talk to about it?
I just did a quick search online and noticed this journal article about the impact of mental illness on sexual dysfunction. I haven't had a chance to read it fully but it seems to suggest mental illness and psychiatric medication commonly affect people's sex lives. Could be an interesting one to read.
Yup it definitely affects my sex life, and not in a positive way. I generally don't like sex at all, don't even like to see it on TV, I find it all very cringe making and kind of gross. I don't get the whole loving connection part that one hears about.
It causes a lot of stress and anxiety for me because I am dreading it and trying to avoid it while simultaneously feeling guilty for not wanting to be intimate with my very wonderful husband. The anxiety amplifiesvit all and it can be a bit of a vicious circle.
Sometimes I will end up in a bad flashbacky place during or afterwards, and end up with nightmares. Or sometimes something else will trigger flashbacks or nightmares and that makes sex much harder.
Although I plan on never doing 'it' again, when I was married I found that the medication I took also took away all libido , but I have always found it hard and never really enjoyed it. I think this is an important conversation to have though, especially for those in relationships. I'm glad you started the thread
@Shimmer and @Former-Member I thought even though it's a touchy subject it's something that should be talked about openly because it is a very natural act and can really affect us and our relationships.
I'm very open with my partner about this and he's gotten the stage when he can see it turning ugly and stopping mid way through and just try and distract me or hold me for hours till I feel better. I'm very lucky he loves me so much he doesn't understand why I react the way I do and I don't ever but he stands by me.
I'll probably bring it up with my physiatrists when I feel safe enough with him and I'm also assuming he will bring it up because from what I've read about bipolar it's a big deal.
That's also another reason I brought up this subject. I've been reaserching sex with bipolar and all I can find is the typical text book answers and I'm over the text book answers. I want to talk to real people about it because I don't feel the text book answers really give me the answer I'm looking for.
It is an important subject and one that has effected me in different ways over my time with bipolar. First of all, I did have a time around several years ago when I was reacting to sex in a way similar to what you described: getting distressed during the act and breaking down into heaving tears afterwards. This was the culmination of a long time of feeling like I was being abused when I was just having sex with my partner. It also coincided with a breakdown that caused me to leave my job, withdraw almost completely from the outside world and sleep up to 20 hours a day without knowing at what time of day I'd be awake or asleep. Everything about me was breaking down so it's not so surprising that my sex life reached rock bottom at that time too.
After that my partner and I started sleeping in separate beds and decided to take a break from sex for quite some time. This allowed us both time to recover from what was turning into a traumatic experience for both of us every time we had sex. Since that time, we have slowly restarted our sex life and are now having sex at least once a month (sometimes more). We're much more gentle with our sex life now than we used to be and are healing from past difficulties. We have a weekly 'date night' where we at least get naked with each other and cuddle, no pressure on either of us to 'perform'. Luckily, like you, my partner has stuck with me through the ups and downs of my sexual issues. Our relationship has been going for over 12 years now.
I feel for you with what you are going through and am really hoping you and your partner can find more joy in sex again in future.
Thanks @Former-Member for raising the topic. Our sex-saturated media would have us believe that most couples are at it at least twice a week with synchronised conclusions and satisified smiles all round. I'm not sure who those couples are, but they aren't likely to be in a long-term relationship and dealing with mental health concerns. This mythology around sex can leave lots of people feeling inadequate and guilty.
Which is why it's so fantastic that you started the thread. And that others like @Mazarita have been so honest too. What great partners you both have to be supporting you and towards solutions that are good for you both.
I've had many clients in the past give up sex completely. Sometimes it's due to traumatic events but it can also be about more mundane combinations of events: medication, low energy, anger, poor self-esteem, body shame etc etc etc. Of course, people with mental illness don't have the monopoly on all those things but they can be more extreme.
I hope you do talk to your psych @Former-Member as they may be able to help you with the emotions that keep welling up. I hope your bravery gets rewarded with some good strategies.
I think that it can both ways ... excessive preoccupation with sex and a cooler libido.
My bi-polar, gay, married, menage du trois uncle ...was pretty into it and as a teacher vocal about its benefits when I was young. I tried to walk some path between my so-called "normal" rellies and my "officially diagnosed" ones ... and didnt seem to be able to please any of them.
Personally, i have experienced reactions to sex as described ... I interpreted it as a sense of something out of kilter in the relationship ... often a sense of duty to perform etc...
I want to so believe in love .... but celibacy can be good too.
I feel so self involved these days that....a couple of days ago...I just growled and growled at my husband...... thinking that I'm the strangest person in the world to be in love with someone who is diagnosed.
We decided to commit again..... but on the sex....both agreed it will happen one day but not yet.
Over 7 years ago....I used to love sex. it was very cool.
I wish I have @Mazarita s story.....you know getting naked etc ...but dont. And I'm not as brave as@chookmojo writing of her feelings.
in my relationship with my husband..... It's like everything he does always has my feelings and thoughts taken into account...even all the music he plays and this is more to me than my past lovers/boyfriends who didnt do that.....(but the sex was great)
@Former-Member do you mind if I ask;
@suzanne ......what were the feelings you had about clients who gave up on sex?
Hey @Mazarita thankyou for sharing your story and letting me know I'm not the only one. We are both extremely lucky that we supportive partners that love us and will stand by us. We have weekly date nights too where we just connect and have fun and be a happy couple. We then have a dinner and discussion night on how I'm doing, how many hours of work I can handle, who he has on speed dial incase I lose it badly and what activities we have planes for the week and if I'm going to be ok doing it all. It's really good your finding ways on getting back to having a sex life.
@suzanne I might bring it up with my physcatrist when I fully trust him. I'm very secretive about things in my life and very ashamed by the way I act out in sex begging my partner to be more violent with me and if he doesn't start lashing out on him and then spend hours screaming crying and vomiting afterwards. But the next day I want more.
@PeppiPatty I do the same thing with my husband. I yell at him how can you be with someone so messed up as me I'm scum I'm worthless I got in the way of your dream job, I've made you slow down on your dreams and drop your standards. I hate myself for it. I've also say him down when I was in a calm frame of mind telling him we are both young. He can find someone else who can give him a happy stress free life and give him children and be the woman he wants so he can be the man he wants and that I understand. I won't be mad at him, I can't bare to want be with myself why should he have to. But he keeps telling me I'm beautiful and everything he wants.
One thing that I find is giving me an extra few minuets of help having sex is looking into my husbands eyes and telling my self sex is a representation of my love to him and he's my everything and I love him. Gives me a little bit more calm time
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