So, let me tell you about this girlfriend I had…
She was someone who was extremely intelligent, creative, clever in many aspects, as well as successful. She had many great attributes. But, she was head strong. She used to speak very profoundly about how she had improved herself and often told me she achieved success on her own terms.
Eventually, I came to learn that this Sista’ has multiple personalities. As I spent more and more time with her, I started to notice different personalities and aspects of her story that were not adding up. You ever had that friend who appears to have it all together, all the money she could ever want and always talking about her own achievements, abilities and place in society? But, at the same time you do not really know her personal life, relationships and/or partners. This friend of mine was very free and open speaking about her sexuality.
She poured out her private life to me and wanted to share her pride in the amount of money she had accumulated by sugaring – a hot topic and concept, popularly described as being a “sugar baby” with a “sugar daddy.” This life style allows a woman to live a luxurious life by maintaining relationships with various married or unmarried men. My friend was a married woman and secretly a ‘sugar baby,’ as she liked to call it. You may call this modern prostitution or not. Regardless of what it is, it is real, easily accessible and available in any city for any man who is willing to pay the price to keep a woman of his choice. It is a discreet and secret society that the average family working hard to put food on the table or put their children through college would find appalling. However, it is the norm and popularized by social media. So, it really does not come off as a shameful thing. Pop trends and hashtags gallantly post #hoeislife, #bigthot, #sugarbabylife, etc…
Reflecting more, I thought, “Maybe I am just naïve and don’t really know a lot about this lifestyle.” As I got to know my old girlfriend more, I realized she suffered from bi-polar disorder. Sugaring was the only way she was able to function. In fact, this profession fit her lifestyle, her need for speed, adrenaline, instant gratification, sex and money, material items with big brand names and labels that gave her a sense of power and self-acceptance assuaging all the torment she experienced as a teen and anger from her own mother who was also bipolar. My friend got more out of sex than just sex. She was, of course, materially motivated, but sugaring also fit her life style, mental functioning and perspective of herself within society and who she wanted to appear to be. To sum her situation up, her bipolar disorder was in fact contributing to her success in the sex trade. To succeed in the field, you have to be hyper-sexual, possess sexual skills and prowess and enjoy having regular sex with multiple partners casually. But, relationships with different men at different times, in different places and for different purposes can also increase the instability of the mindset and acerbate the symptoms of the disorder.
There were times I did not even know what was happening with my friend. But, I noticed she could easily be up and full of energy then for long periods of time, I would not even hear from her at all. She would sleep for most of the day, and speak about being a lady of leisure – her desired lifestyle of choice. When you saw her smile, innocence and warmth it was hard to imagine she was this other woman.
It became pretty clear that she was suffering from an undiagnosed case of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression) is the cause of serious shifts of an individual’s mood in energy, thinking and behavior. A person can go from great euphoric feelings when fulfilling a desired need, addiction or overall want at that particular moment to rock bottom. The term “zero-to-a hundred” is a common term for these individuals. This can look like serious bouts of “lows” for a period of time, where the person can’t get out of the bed, move, be productive or motivated to be consistent; to the next extreme of great “highs” of mania where the person has a very high level of energy, activity, etc., so much so that it can be self destructive.
A person having a bipolar episode could have increased indulgent behavior or loss of self-control. Hyper-sexuality isn’t just a high-sex drive. Hyper-sexuality is a much more complex behavior similar to other addictive behaviors such as alcoholism, drug use, gambling, shopping, and other behaviors which become addictive activities in their routine of daily life. This can result in feelings of guilt and regret, anger, denial and/or even naiveté to ones actions, not admitting that their behavior is unsafe, dangerous and self-destructive. This results into bigger and worse issues for the person who does not have contraception, protection or knowledge of their sexual partners. Over time, sexual activity may become risky or extremely dangerous for the individual who begins to take on too many sexual partners; too much dependency on sex and sexual behaviors, and in many cases can result in them contracting STI’s, HIV, early pregnancy, pregnancy with multiple partners, and so on.
Bi-polar behavior is sporadic, ever changing, and very unpredictable. It wreaks havoc in a household creating problems and issues for everyone in the family, especially when it is the mother who is the caretaker and sole provider for the family. This relates to how society treats women, the effects of society on women, and women are able to maintain their mental health because this mental health condition affects their household and children. Children are always directly affected by their mother’s mental health, feeling stress, anxiety and confusion. Bi polar disorder and hyper-sexuality can be driving causes behind a young woman’s higher exposure to STI’s, early pregnancy and HIV, depending on the circumstance and social context of course. Let’s unpack this idea a little more to get a better picture of how this plays out in our current culture.
For the sex addict, or person dealing with a manic, bi-polar episode as it relates to sexual activity provides an intense, intoxicating euphoria or “high” while lacking any genuine emotional connection, intimacy, or conception of love. It is a temporary escape, an adrenaline rush, a quick high. Once the “high” wears off, the vicious cycle starts all over again. For the addict, the activity is not fulfilling. It never really was a fulfilling a true need for love, acceptance, building support, love; it was always about the current believed need at that time. It has a significant negative impact on her life and often causes a lot of shame and self-loathing.
Sex becomes like a drug. Sex takes the place of therapy, and currently through a perceived feeling of numbing certain pains and truths. Hypersexuality means having an acutely increased interest in sex and more frequent sexual urges. Other signs of hypersexuality include: unable to achieve sexual satisfaction despite a lot of sexual activity; out of control sex drive; multiple sex partners, including strangers; excessive masturbation; having continuous affairs and putting relationships at risk; inappropriate and risky sexual behavior; sex being used as a “painkiller”; sex doesn’t provide emotional satisfaction; preoccupation with sexual thoughts and an increased use of pornography.
Depression in the U. S. is one of the most prevalent and common mental disorders. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates 7% of American adults have experienced one major depressive episode, which translates into 16 million Americans experiencing depression at least once in their lifetimes. And women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression especially among young women aged 18-25. Young women are 60% more likely to experience depression than adults 50 and older. How do these statistics really relate to the realities we experience in real time, you might ask? Just look around for yourself and think about your relationships with other women, and how many of them suffer from depression, then go deeper into the situation and question what events have led to aspects of one admitting to depression or even denying depression, yet acting in ways that reflect symptoms of depression.
Such behaviors as hypersexuality are also exacerbated by drug use. Hyper sexuality is glorified in our music, pop culture, rap and hip-hop. It is not uncommon to hear lyrics that talk about one who is able to have sex in a great way, or at higher rates than another person. It is not a surprise that women face depression at higher rates in the American experience. There are so many societal economic factors that contribute to this traumatic reality daily for a woman.
If you have bipolar disorder, the condition can exert control over your thoughts, interfere with relationships and if not treated, lead to a crisis.
Ms. R. G-B is a young professional based in the Washington, DC. She is passionate about empowering young disadvantaged women. In her spare time, she is free lance writer.