Yesterday I received this email from forum member Alan Smithee:
Been working on something difficult lately, with the help of Alice Miller’s Drama of the Gifted Child and my therapist, and I have some questions for the community here. I’ve also included a pretty neat 3D drawing that kind of blows your drawings out of the water.
1. How does your diagnosis affect your sexual functioning and/or sex drive, if at all?
2. How does the label of “High Functioning” affect your sexual functioning and/or sex drive, if at all?
3. How do you/you and your sexual partner(s) address any issues that come up in your sex life that stem from your MI or label of HF?
I hope these questions make sense. My brain is not working so great these days. It is muddied by trying to make some confusing breakthroughs, and words are not happening well right now.
Alan later clarified that “sexual functioning and sex drive” are “basically anything of a person that is involved in them having a sexual relationship (with others or themselves, it doesn’t matter who they are doing it with).”
I want to thank Alan for the contribution to the forum. We talk about a lot of personal things here, all of which include how our diagnoses affect our lives. These questions are a serious part of life. For me (and maybe for everyone, but I can’t speak for everyone), there are short answers and long answers to these questions. Further, I suspect that these are questions that might have pretty diagnosis-specific answers because of the effects of specific symptoms. That being said, my hunch is that we also have symptom-overlap, so here we go. I’m going to try to give the shortest answers I can, and if longer answers are necessary in the comments then that’s where I’ll put them.
1. In many ways, I’m a textbook bipolar patient. My mania comes with a heavy dose of hypersexuality. (In my younger days, this was sorta disastrous — less so for me, more so for others.) My depression comes with a definitively lowered sex drive.
2. Not at all. My sex drive and sexual functioning are completely independent of this so-called “high-functioning” label I’ve been given. There are many times when what could be called my “highest-functioning” self is not sexually high-functioning at all (or, at least, not in a healthy way).
3. Let me preface it with the fact that I met my partner many years ago, and we first dated in one of the worst times of my life. Also, he works professionally in the mental health (not illness) realm, specifically around issues of men’s health and its relationships with sexuality, gender construction, and intimate partner violence. He is also a volunteer advocate/counselor to rape and domestic violence victims. Why are these things important to say here? Because when I say that my husband is INCREDIBLY (superhumanly) sensitive to my comfort level at any given time, I really need to make clear how seriously and emphatically I mean “sensitive.” I lack all kinds of intimate communication skills — which my husband has in abundance. So the answer to the “How…?” is basically “because HE helps US figure out how to address it.” (I am so frickin’ lucky. I can’t say that enough.) My answer is that somehow or another, the issues that inevitably arise are taken as issues of the moment. They are understood as a part of our sex life for that time being, but not forever. Those times are by no means easy, but like all symptoms, we have to know that these glitches also pass.