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New Ground Breaking research links Bipolar to Hypersexual Behaviour – will this help with shame?

January self love

It’s currently mental health awareness week.  The theme is movement which we know is great for our mental and physical health.  We need to remember to move our mouths too and talk.  An open and honest conversation can be great for smashing stigma and giving comfort.  I was sent some new research last week and today it has hit the press.  I am talking about it on my podcast to do my wee bit to try and normalise these conversations.  I want to be the voice of a friendly nurse that I would want as a patient.  I hope and pray it helps. 

But first off, to give some context.  Shortly before my 40th birthday, I was diagnosed with bipolar.  At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of this new information.  Why had it not been picked up sooner?  Also I am a people pleaser, all my life I have been told I think of others, sometimes too much and I should put myself first. I love making people happy.  Was bipolar not the opposite?  Also, all the times I had been called larger than life, crazy and carefree – was this simply an illness and not my personality?  I was confused.  Some said I wasn’t manic, it was a spiritual awakening and at times that is exactly what it felt like.  I continued to see the number 42 everywhere and it was freaking me out.  Each time I checked the clock, went to write an important email, word counts on writing pieces, it was 42.  This is meant to be the number for awakening.  There were songs I felt had been sent just for me.  There were random emails with messages.  There was a heart shaped crisp.  Sun beaming crazy in the window when I decided to sing a famous Tina Turner song and she passed away a few days later.  I saw someone talking to themselves in the hospital.  I sat and listened quietly and I heard a female voice with a strong Southern accent.  Like I had tapped into another plane.  A whole new dimension and vibration. I felt like my intuition was through the roof.  I won’t list all the other stuff but let’s just say I was overwhelmed.  It’s taking me time to work out what is me, what is an illness and how I can stay well.  Is there a chance I would never have been diagnosed if I wasn’t triggered enough to go manic?  What can I do to stay stable because people can be stable for very long periods of time.  I’ll take 50 years please.

I laugh when I remember my psychiatrists words.  She said:

‘Jojo, Bipolar 1 really is the pits.  It’s just awful, it is a really horrible illness.’

Wow, frank words.  I am a glass half full person so I replied:

‘Well, we just need to find a way to manage this thing’.

Her response was more hopeful and she went on to tell me that lots of her patients are living a really great quality life.

The key barrier will always be stigma and shame.  People might joke and say things to you like:

‘Behave’ or ‘Stay out of trouble’ with a clear lack of understanding that bipolar is an illness that, if it flares up into mania, you will have no control.  It’s not a choice.  Even if you are a mega people pleaser.  Your mind breaks.  If they can’t try to get their head around it then it’s their issue.

I hope this weeks podcast is of comfort and I want to remind you that if you are losing hope, that is totally understandable.  It sucks.  Shame sucks.  Guilt sucks.  But it’s not your fault, it’s not my fault.

Here are some things you can look forward to today or in the future:

New music.  Music has got me through some of the hardest times.

To see your family grow be that kids, siblings, parents.  What a privilege.

To laugh until you cry.  I remember the first time I really laughed when I felt myself again, it was magic.

To find new hobbies.

To eat ice cream on a hot day.  To watch your dog try ice cream or ice lollies for the first time.

To help others through your story.

Stargazing  and Northern lights !! Sorry to rub it in if you didn’t see them recently.

Cloud watching.

Swimming in the sea.

Having a nice hot bath and then getting into fresh, crisp sheets.

Receiving thoughtful cards or gifts.

The smell before and after it rains.

Dreams that make you smile.

When you are driving and a song you love comes on the radio.

The peace that comes with forgiveness.

Spending a whole day in bed.

Water balloon fights.

Cuddles.

Thunderstorms.

Road trips.

The feeling of soft sand on your feet.

Roller Coasters.

Your favourite meal (s).

Christmas time.

The days when you feel calm and like yourself.

Days you feel proud for hanging on.  Please hang on x

Full press release below, I hope this helps us to show more compassion, slam stigma and save lives.  Knowledge is power.

Groundbreaking new research has, for the first time, linked bipolar to hypersexual behaviour. Understanding this link could help reduce the average 9.5 year delay to diagnosis currently experienced in the UK.  The new research suggests that this could be affecting over 800,000 people across the UK; with one in five reporting that they had attempted suicide because of a period of hypersexual behaviour or its consequences.

New research published today in ‘The Lancet Psychiatry’ conducted by leading mental health charity, Bipolar UK, shows that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK could be experiencing periods of hypersexual behaviour and taking risks with potentially life-changing consequences.  With over one million people living with bipolar in the UK, a survey of more than 1500 people found that 88% of survey respondents had experienced the symptom of hypersexual behaviour – suggesting this could be affecting over 800,000 people across the nation.  Defined as an unusual or excessive concern with or participation in sexual activity, people living with bipolar may experience hypersexual behaviour as part of a hypomanic or manic episode when they are more likely to take risks without thinking of the consequences.

“This is a hugely under-researched symptom which is why the Bipolar Commission wanted to understand more about its prevalence and impact on individuals and their families,” said Dr Clare Dolman, lead researcher and co-chair of the Bipolar Commission, who herself has bipolar disorder.  Dr Dolman added: “Not only do the vast majority of those living with bipolar experience hypersexual behaviour, but over half [54%] have experienced more than eight periods of hypersexual behaviour, with two thirds saying that each period of this behaviour had lasted for a month or more.

“Most respondents said that they were more sexually active during these periods of hypersexuality, with 69% saying they had tried to seduce someone; and 54% saying they had put themselves in potentially dangerous situations as a result.  The research conducted by Bipolar UK is the first of its kind and highlights not only the huge number of people living with bipolar who have experienced this symptom, but also the impact it has, with many [40%] left feeling ashamed and 61% experiencing suicidal thoughts.  One in five respondents reported they had attempted suicide because of a period of hypersexual behaviour or its consequences.

Anne Chataigné, who co-wrote a short documentary ‘Trust Me’ about living with bipolar and the symptom of hypersexual behaviour, said, “For me, symptoms of hypersexual behaviour are linked to risk-taking when I’m manic, and I’m not even aware of it at the time.

“Hypersexuality is a symptom of bipolar. While I recognise and understand the shame and guilt associated with it when I am stable, it is not something I should need to carry the burden of long term.  Shame linked to hypersexuality is devastating. Talking about it openly, free from that shame is really important.  We need to get over the invisibility of the symptom and use psycho-education to find ways to cope in the aftermath of an episode. The documentary I’ve made and the research from Bipolar UK offer platforms for people living with bipolar to talk about these issues.

Séamus O’Hanlon, who hosted a podcast, ‘Hypersexuality Stories’, said: “There’s a lot of misunderstanding around the symptoms of hypersexuality. People might assume that, being a man, I wouldn’t necessarily feel the same levels of shame and stigma.

 

“However, I think some men can really struggle coming to terms with some of the risks they took when they were unwell, which are often completely out of character.

“I’ve never been ashamed about being gay. But I’ve felt deep shame about the struggles I’ve faced around hypersexuality.

“There’s also a barrier for many men around being honest and open with healthcare professionals about this symptom, especially if they’re female.”

Dr Dolman added: “These findings are an important step forward in understanding the challenges faced by people living with bipolar.

“This is crucial because once someone recognises that it’s a symptom, they can take steps to protect themselves should they become unwell again, and they can also begin to let go of any unresolved shame or blame.

“It’s also important because healthcare professionals need to recognise, talk about and offer treatment for this common symptom.

“Not only that, research suggests that more than half of people with bipolar don’t have a diagnosis. So, if you – or someone you know – can recognise this behaviour, it’s worth asking, “Could it be bipolar?”

CEO of Bipolar UK, Simon Kitchen, added: “Bipolar is a complex mental health condition characterised by extended periods of extreme highs, and depressive lows. It currently takes on average 9.5 years to get a diagnosis after first telling a healthcare professional about symptoms.

“There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to treating bipolar, but medication, support and self-management strategies are key protective factors.

“The message we want to get out to anyone who’s struggling with any of the symptoms – including hypersexual behaviour – is that, with the right treatment and support, it is possible to live a full and meaningful life with the condition.

“Bipolar UK can help with resources and UK-wide support, including our 20-minute eLearning course and Mood Tracker app, and peer support groups and eCommunity.”

Jojo Fraser - motivational speaker and wellness author/podcaster

 

Jojo Fraser aka ‘Mummy Jojo’  is an award-winning mental health researcher, author, podcaster and speaker, dubbed as ‘the Queen of positivity and a kindness advocate.   She is a Tedx speaker and a regular contributor on BBC radio.  Jojo is known for normalising discussions around our mental, emotional and spiritual health, making it accessible and relatable to all.  She has quickly grown a reputation for having a huge impact even on the most sceptical of people.

She is a mega foodie and water baby and loves going on adventures, wild swimming and music.

Connect with her across social @jojofrasermojo

(the old Instagram was hacked)

Listen to her Tedx talk about the power of removing our masks.

Contact – mummyjojoblog@gmail.com

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