Last week I saw a new psychiatrist and I was very nervous.  I hate seeing new psychiatrists and having to answer all their questions.  But this time I was prepared.  I had written out a page of information that I anticipated my new doctor would like to know.  I really suggest doing this as a coping strategy for seeing doctors-it makes for a much more productive session.  Usually doctors ask if you have ever been sexually abused (I have) and about the nature of that abuse.  I do not like talking about it at all.  I decided to take charge of my fears and so I was the first to bring up my sexual history.  Talking fast, I told him that a year and a half ago I had gotten pregnant and then had an abortion, but he interrupted me before I could finish my story.

You don’t have to tell me about this.  Anyone can be sexy.  I only care if you think you were acting out of mania.  Otherwise, don’t tell me. Being sexy is not crazy.

I was nearly speechless-I’m not used to doctors not wanting to pry into my personal life!  I told him that I did think my actions were due at least in part to mania or my borderline personality disorder and it’s true, I do.  But I have been thinking about his comment and it has provided me the opportunity to rethink how I think about some of the major sexual events in my life.  Before, I was viewing everything as a negative and that it was proof of my mental illness and of being unstable.  And while I do think that my mental illnesses did play a part in why I made some impulsive sexual decisions, the truth is is that I am human and humans have sexual desires.  For instance, I got pregnant, because I had unprotected sex.  I knew better and yet I continued to have sex.  For a long time, I pathologized what I did-I blamed my actions on the impulsiveness that marks having Borderline Personality Disorder.  It was the only explanation I could come up with that would explain why I would do something so “stupid.”  If you go back father into my past, then there are the times when I was a freshman and a sophomore in college and I was “friends with benefits” with several guy friends.  For a long time, I rationalized that I was sick with the moods of Bipolar II and that was why I acted the way I did-I was either severely depressed and wanted comfort or I was manic and impulsive.  All of these things were true.  But it is also true, that college students often experiment with their sexuality.  “Friends with benefits” is not a term only reserved for the mentally ill.  I was a young woman with a sexual drive.  Sometimes I wanted comfort and sometimes I felt impulsive, but so are many other nineteen-year-olds.  Likewise, many young women sometimes have unprotected sex.  It may not be smart, but it isn’t that uncommon either.  Yes, it is helpful to look at what part my illnesses play in my mistakes, but my illnesses are not all of who I am.  I am a sexual being.  I have sexual needs.  Besides, I don’t even regret most of the “benefits” I had in college.  It’s time to stop looking at my sexuality through the lens of mental illness and start accepting that it is okay to be a sexual person and that all people make mistakes.  Because of my pregnancy, I take sexual intercourse more seriously.  I have an IUD now.  I am working on being less impulsive and I recognize that some of my impulsiveness comes from my disorders, but some of it comes from my being human.  I am human.  I am sexy.  I have mental illness.  I am in recovery.  My sexiness does not equal craziness, but is a natural part of my being.

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