Sexuality & Bipolar: The Pride Edition

Living with bipolar for a decade has obliterated all my preconceived notions about the human capacity for love, lust, and longing. Prior to my diagnosis and subsequent journeys through altered states, I was convinced I was straight. Raised with conservative Christian values, as a young girl I dreamt of being a Proverbs 31 woman – a wife and mother “of noble character[…] worth far more than rubies.” I was obsessed with a book co-authored by a Christian couple Eric and Leslie Ludy called When God Writes Your Love Story: The Ultimate Approach to Guy/Girl Relationships (1999). At the age of 14, I was inspired by their story. I was determined to “save myself” for my future husband and I began writing love letters to an imaginary God-fearing Prince Charming.

Upon graduating high school, I matriculated at Pepperdine, a Christian university in California, hoping along with the vast majority of young college women that I would graduate with an engagement ring on my finger. Unfortunately (but in many ways, fortunately), I didn’t even make it to the end of my first semester. Two months in I had my first manic-psychotic break, was diagnosed with bipolar, took medical leave, and never returned. Every manic episode I’ve had since Pepperdine were deeply spiritual baptisms of fire incinerating what I thought I know about myself, including my sexuality.

With my new lens, I saw people as genderless. I fell in love with the sound of people’s voices, the warmth of their presence, and the light flickering in their eyes. I craved deep intimacy that transcended sex as the physical was only one dimension. I wanted to be One with another in mind, body, soul, and spirit. I wanted to pierce through what I then knew to be an illusion – the lie that we are all separate. Through immersing myself in tarot and astrology as well as Hindu and Yoruba philosophy, I got better acquainted with my own prominent masculine energy. I came to understand how we all carry both Masculine and Feminine energies and I found myself attracted to the feminine energy within both men and women.

Most surprisingly of all, I found myself connecting with Mother Earth as Lover Earth. My sensuality was heightened to the nth degree as I felt One with the elements. A cool gust of wind often felt like a caress on my face. Every ray of sunshine kissed my skin. At the beach I waded and waltzed in the ocean waves. As I walked barefoot, I felt the tender touch of the soil massaging and nourishing my soles. I was in love with all of life. The boundaries of boxes and binaries could no longer hold me.

When the mania ended, I was deeply confused. Though I descended from this heightened experience of life I did not lose the visceral memory of the infinite love I felt towards people regardless of their gender. This transformative experience completely recalibrated how I understand love, sex, and desire. I now embrace my masculine energy which in turn changed how I see other women as well as the type of men I attract and have become attracted to.

While my sexuality is certainly more fluid than my teenage years, I struggle with putting a label on it. I feel a part of the Queer community, but the reason why I may identify this way makes me feel like an odd duckling. Given that I don’t fit into the constructs of whiteness or sanity, my sexuality is inherently queered even if I pass as straight given the seemingly heteronormative partnership and family I have created. I don’t know what answers other Queer folx have found to existential questions about their sexuality, but all I know is that my queerness is intrinsically linked to my neuroexpansiveness – my lived experience as a Black and Bipolar.

Now that I’ve outed myself in this way, I really want to learn from fellow Mad/Mentally Ill/Neuroexpansive folx about how their altered states have impacted the way they understand their sexuality. If that’s you, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments if you’re open to share! Happy Pride to all – to those of us standing in the truth of our queerness, and to those of us who are still figuring it out 🙂

Image Description: Against the backdrop of the rainbow pride flag sits a profile image of a while head. Situated in the region associated with the brain is a heart with electrical signals pulsing through it.

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