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This week in Savage Love: Shake that moody



Graphic: Libby Maguire

I'm a 30-year-old, Asian American, hetero-flexible cis woman. I'm also newly diagnosed with bipolar II. I'm on medication-the doctor is trying to figure that out-but no talk therapy for right now, as my last therapist was not great and I have not managed to find a new one. My question for you is about the relationship between bipolar and kink. One of the common symptoms of the manic stage of bipolar is "risky sex." I equate risk with "chance to blow up one's personal or professional life" and have always answered "no" to that question when asked by doctors. I've had the occasional hookup, but otherwise I've consistently had sex in the context of closed, monogamous relationships, i.e., the opposite of risky sex. However, it recently occurred to me that I'm pretty kinky (BDSM, role-play). Nothing I want to consider a varsity-level kink, but what do i know? I have out-there fantasies that are in varsity level, but I've never done them. Am I just bipolar and kinky? Are the two related somehow? Should I be concerned that I'll go into a manic state and start enacting some of the varsity-level fantasies in my head?
Kinky And Bipolar

P.S. I asked my doctor this via e-mail, but i never heard back yet and have no idea how sex-positive he is. So I thought I'd get a second opinion.

P.P.S. I'm currently manic enough that it's hard for me to edit, so there may be weird / confusing shit in my letter. Sorry for that!

"I'd like to congratulate KAB for seeking help and for the work she's doing to get stable," said Ellen Forney, author of Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life, a award-winning self-help guide to maintaining stability, and the best-selling graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me. "I'd also like to welcome KAB to BIPOLAR! Toot! Toot! Confetti! "

The special manic-stage symptom you're concerned about-risking a super-risk sex-is called "hypersexuality," and it's happening when the very poor judgment match meets the supercharged libido gas.

"But it's only 'hypersexuality' when it gets in the way of a reasonably well-functioning life," said Forney. "Picture masturbating all day instead of going to work, or having relationship-wrecking affairs or unprotected sex with strangers."

If your diagnosis is correct and you have bipolar II and not bipolar I, KAB, you may be less susceptible to out-of-control hypersexuality.

"Strictly speaking, a bipolar II diagnosis means she cycles between 'hypomania' (mild mania) and depression," said Forney, "so her highs are not going to be as acute as they would be for someone diagnosed with bipolar I, where hypersexuality can really get dangerous. "

Forney warns that misdiagnoses are not uncommon where bipolar is concerned, so you may want to get your diagnosis confirmed. But your long-standing kinks all by themselves-varsity and otherwise are not necessarily related to your condition, you are safe to expressly and explored, you are not doing anything unreasonably risky or wrong.

"Kinky sex in herself does not count as symptom-worthy risk-sexy matter what her doctor emails back," said Forney. "Like for someone else, there's nothing wrong with the uninhibited enough to pursue varsity-level kinks, so long as they're not putting her or someone else in danger. Ultimately, KAB's goal is to be stable enough to trust her judgment. For now, she might have risks while she's feeling stable, so she can make some levelhead decisions about what may or may not be too risky. "

Forney also recommends having a discussion with your partners and you're about to have a horny or manic or both.

"That way, her partners and friends can help her realize if she's crossing her own lines," said Forney. "And realizing that she's suddenly tempted to cross her own lines could be a signal to her that she's getting a hypomanic and needs to take steps to get better sleep, adjusting her meds, and others I explore in Rock Steady! "

P.S. If your doctor does not answer your sex questions-or only gives you unhelpful, sex-negative, find a new doctor.

P.P.S. There are letters I have to read three times before I can figure out what the fuck is going on. Your letter was as lucid as it was charming.

P.P.P.S. Therapists across the country are recommending Rock Steady to their patients with mood disorders, and Forney won a Media Partner Award from the National Alliance for Mental Illness for her work on Rock Steady and Marbles. If you have already, KAB, please pick up Forney's books. You'll benefit from her insights, her advice, and her coping strategies. And thanks to Forney's art and sense of humor, both books are a pleasure to read.


I am 36 and female, and I've been with my current boyfriend for seven years. We were friends for four years before we started dating. He is very slow at making decisions and not a risk taker, and I am somewhat opposite. I think there are times when you have to take a leap of faith, and if it turns out was a mistake, you learn and grow from it. We lived together on his family's property the first six years after I moved to his hometown. He's waiting in hopes that the property gets handed down to him. I do not live my life in hopes that's out of my control, so I purchased my own home. He moved in. We have not split all costs in half because he said he needs to take care of the other home. It's been six months, and I'm growing in impatient for him to commit. We've had many conversations, and I've given him the end of the year to decide if we must go our separate ways. I said if we are going to be together, we need to be a team and support each other. He was actually taken aback because he thought we were doing fine. One thing he said made me question it all. He said, "I feel that you're supposed to know and have this feeling when you're ready to move forward with be a person forever." I was so confused by that comment. My friends say it can only be me who wants this; he has to want it, too. Is it time for me to just move on?
Mulling Over Very Emotional Options Now

Move on, MOVEON, but keep an open mind. Seeing you may help your boyfriend realize he is does want to be with you forever-it'll help him "know" -and if you have not realized in the interim that you can move back in and the road. But unless inheriting the family property is a sure thing-a sure thing you both benefit from the long run-he needs to pay his fair share. No more freeloading.


Why should I, a feminist, be okay with drag? How is it different than blackface?
Tough question

Drag can be sexist, TQ, but it does not have to be. And when done right, it is not. Blackface is always racist. Drag celebrates the craft of hyperfeminine presentation. Drag demonstrates that so much of what we think of as "naturally" feminine is not just a social construct, but quite literally a construction. Drag has the power to explode sexism, to expose it, by complicating people's preconceptions and misconceptions about what it means to be a woman. Blackface can only reinforce and amplify racism.


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