Hours lost to masturbating; the impromptu orgies; the damage caused to marriages by extra-marital affairs or the risk of seeking out more and more extreme sexual activities in order to try and “scratch an itch which can never be scratched”, as one web user puts it. Those with a more liberal approach to sexuality in general seem to cope better, probably because they don’t worry so much about being considered promiscuous.
But the notion of feeling out of control is what really seems to gnaw at sufferers’ self-esteem, as well as affecting their relationships.
In my past relationship, I was called a ‘let-down’ if I didn’t have sex, which made me scared of saying no.
With my current partner, if I’m really low I will push him away, not letting him touch or kiss me.” Yet if someone in a depressed bipolar state, or the common mixed state – where features of hypomania combine with those of depression - starts to self-medicate with sex, the result is rarely positive.
Individuals learn to watch out for triggers that may send them spinning into an exaggerated mood state.
Yet, sex for those who are bipolar can prove a real minefield.
However, it’s now the subject of much debate amongst both medical professionals and those with the condition.
Tina, who has bipolar disorder, has been with her current partner for six years and finds that her volatility is the real test: “He's been so supportive and patient with me.
But because I can't control my actions, thoughts and feelings sometimes, I find it hard to show him how much I love and appreciate him.” Which brings us on to the depressive lows.
Years ago, I dated a guy with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. When low, his habit of stumbling out of bed to browse porn as the kettle boiled, or spending hours trawling the profile pictures of escorts had me convinced he had some sort of addiction issues.
A few months into our relationship, I dragged him off to sex therapy because of his seemingly uncontrollable behaviour. Up until the escort point, I’d thought that the other signs – the spending sprees, sporadic drug-taking, or staying up all night to work - were nothing more than foils to his ample creativity.