Thinking About Sex And The Possibility Of Living Without An Encyclopedia Of Symptoms

Unusual thirst; frequent urination; weight change (gain or loss); extreme fatigue or lack of energy; blurred vision; frequent or recurring infections; cuts and bruises that are slow to heal; tingling or numbness in the hands or feet; and trouble getting or maintaining an erection.
“Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes”; Public Health Agency of Canada

Swollen gums; bright red or purplish gums; gums that feel tender when touched; gums that pull away from your teeth (recede), making your teeth look longer than normal; new spaces developing between your teeth; pus between your teeth and gums; bad breath; bad taste in your mouth; loose teeth; a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
Symptoms of Periodontitis;

[A]t least five of the following must be present for at least two weeks and must be present most days all day: depressed mood; marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable; weight loss or gain; insomnia or hypersomnia (oversleeping); apathy or agitation; loss of energy; feelings of worthlessness and guilt; inability to concentrate or make decisions; thoughts of suicide (which should always be taken seriously).
Understanding Bipolar Disorder; Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

…difficulty sleeping, or want to sleep more than usual… changes in eating habits; feelings of hopelessness; low self-esteem; low energy levels; restlessness; loss of interest in normal activities; decreased sex drive; feelings of guilt for no reason; difficulty maintaining relationships; difficulty concentrating… may have thoughts of death, or may attempt suicide.
Symptoms Of Chronic Depression; Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Finding out who I am without the diseases and conditions I’ve been living with has suddenly become a potential reality. This is not something I expected to ever happen. It’s not even something I’ve prepared for.

Recently, like two days ago, my diabetes went from being something I thought was going to kill me sooner rather than later, to suddenly being something I can manage. My blood sugar levels, which had been averaging 26 last February, with at least one daily spike into 33+ territory, dropped to an average of 20 in June, then 14 in September and are now — thanks to diet and medications — within the “normal” range.

I’ve decided what I’m going to miss least, right after spending so much time wanting to kill myself, is the “trouble getting or maintaining an erection” thing. Yeah… that’s going to be cool.

…this could be the first time I’ve ever written about sex issues here.


Since I moved back to my home village four years ago I’ve had five ‘girlfriend’ relationships, four of which became intimate. Only in one did anything ever end with me ending properly… but still not regularly. And that was the first relationship I was in after moving back. Since then it has been frustration after frustration, to the point where I haven’t even thought seriously about a relationship in almost a year.

“In some cases, sexual performance can be affected by diabetes. Up to fifty per cent of men and twenty-five per cent of women may experience some kind of sexual problems or a loss of sexual desire as a result of the condition.”
“Diabetes And Sex”;

Even going back to when I was still living in Toronto… I basically stopped dating because everything just felt futile.

It’s one of the more difficult symptoms, and something I’ve kind of grown comfortable being without. The depressions, both the bipolar and the clinical stuff, kill the sex drive. Then, when you do want things to… progress, the diabetes kills the instrument. After a while it’s like, what’s the point of going through the explanations and the embarrassment.

…women who are diabetic have similar problems as men in terms of a general lack of interest in sex, but there are other problems specific to women… a lot of what doctor’s know about diabetes comes from research involving men, something which can be said of most women’s health issues, so there’s still a lot they don’t know about diabetes and women.

Diabetic women are also more prone to problems with decreased vaginal lubrication. In addition, some women with diabetes may suffer from recurring vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina, as a result of yeast infections, which can make sexual intercourse painful.
“Diabetes can take toll on sex life”; Women’s Health Matters

A study published just a week ago in the Canadian Medical Association Journal also found a commonly prescribed medication used to control Type 2 Diabetes, raised a woman’s risk substantially of “hip, arm and other bone fractures.”

Globe and Mail: Rosiglitazone and pioglitazone, sold under the brand names Avandia and Actos, seem to accelerate bone density loss and create a heightened threat of fracture among women – especially seniors – who have taken them over a long period of time. The same risk was not seen in men, or among women who took other drugs to manage diabetes.

There are some duplications, but with four conditions under control I’d be taking thirty or forty symptoms out of my life which have been a major factor in who I have been for the past eighteen years… some have been with me since I was a child.

Obviously the clinical depressions, the chronic depressions, are still in me. It’s not like I’m sitting around crushed all day, but only because after you live in a condition long enough it becomes most of who you are. I’ve never recognized myself, for example, when I read the symptoms of diabetes, yet I’ve had it for at least eight years. And not at low levels either, I was toxic for at least five months. But probably for years.

Which means, without my awareness of it happening, I adopted the symptoms of diabetes as “just shit which happens to people.” Just like the other symptoms from the other conditions and diseases I let go for so long.

I’ve been living with the clinical depressions since I was a child… being taken away from my friends and family when I was eight, never knowing my father, not being able to make friends here, having a mother who worked eight-to-eight. The other stuff. I’m still working through that. But I was only able to start after getting the symptoms of the manic depression out of the way.

Until I was able to make the decision to get the manic depression treated I couldn’t see what depression was real and what was something being forced on me.

But last year, just as I was starting to work on the clinical stuff, I was hit with the diabetes diagnosis, and then the periodontitis diagnosis. So for the past year anytime I started thinking about one I had to deal with the others. And this stuff isn’t like mending from some broken bones. My body can heal three broken bones at once, but the symptoms of diabetes and periodontitis just hooked up with the depressions to work against me like I was trying to walk through a tunnel filled with pudding.

They just made me want to quit dealing with anything. To stop moving forward. I wasn’t getting suicidal because I couldn’t “get it up”, or because my teeth are loose, but how many times can you test your blood sugar when all you see is “toxic” on the metre? What’s the point in flossing your teeth if the dentist is just going to be pulling all of them anyway?

I wasn’t getting suicidal, but I had decided there was nothing else to do but wait to die.

Thing is, because of how long the clinical depressions — from how I was raised and who was and wasn’t there — have gone untreated, waiting is a decision I made before I hit puberty.

It’s something I’ve become pretty good at… I was, until a couple of days ago, perfectly prepared to wait out the rest of my life. But the more symptoms I get out of the way the less I find myself inclined to wait. At least that’s what I’ve decided over the past 48 hours.

I got the manic depression out of the way, but the clinical depressions have similar symptoms. Basically the only differences are causes v. random, and the clinical stuff can be reasoned with. So I had progressed in my recovery without feeling as though I had progressed in my recovery.

But the diabetes is different. It proves recovering from a disease, or a condition, just takes time and a willingness to put one foot in front of the other (10PRINT”RECOVERY”; 20GOTO10). And, I expect, it will take a lot of symptoms off the table. And since my dentist tells me my gums and teeth are getting better, the same with the periodontitis.

It’s like studying for a test in a room with lights switching off and on at random, then there’s a neighbour down the hall playing the bass line to The Lemon Song at full volume, a stranger is sitting on your couch watching the Weather Channel in French while he tells you about his day and, for some reason, your cat’s on fire.

Getting rid of one is a relief, but does nothing for your chances of passing a test. But the lessons you’ve learned after you figure out how to stop one then make it easier to figure out how to fix the next problem.

Eventually you find yourself studying in peace… then, after you pass, the chances of you having sex with the Teacher’s Assistant rise exponentially. Which is, I’m starting to think, pretty much the objective for all of this.




About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Classic, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Diabetes, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Thinking About Sex And The Possibility Of Living Without An Encyclopedia Of Symptoms

  1. XUP says:

    That’s a pretty good objective as far as objectives go. Kind of a holy grail of something to keep in front of you while you’re working so hard to dig yourself out of that big barrel of poop (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor). I can’t wait to read about your first date — which you will write about in a discrete, gentlemanly yet euphoric manner.

  2. brahnamin says:

    It’s like studying for a test in a room with lights switching off and on at random, then there’s a neighbour down the hall playing the bass line to The Lemon Song at full volume, a stranger is sitting on your couch watching the Weather Channel in French while he tells you about his day and, for some reason, your cat’s on fire.

    I think I’ve had that dream.

    Congrats on beginning to get things under control. I am still going through the process myself and it flat out sucks, but you’re right. One foot in front of the other and eventually it gets better little by little.

  3. exactscience says:

    I think “your cat’s on fire” is going to become another of my slightly insensitive go to metaphors.

    Your probably right about what the objective to all this is.

    Keep it up. – So sorry I had to.

    S x

  4. bipolarlife says:

    Now I have Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” repeating in my head. This is all excellent news for you – enjoy your new found health.

  5. megan says:

    I’m going to pick one tiny sentence out of all the great stuff you’ve written above and take exception to it.

    ” Only in one did anything ever end with me ending properly… but still not regularly”

    Properly? By whose definition?

    So, okay, that’s disingenuous. By the definition of 95% of straight North Americans, and that’s probably keeping the pool small.

    But it’s a very limiting definition, and one that sets lots of people, but particularly you, right now, up to fail.

    Which is more likely to keep you from going down that road altogether, and will probably means you’ll miss out on a lot of fun and intimacy. That’s a shame.

    Great sex is not dependent on a hard cock.

  6. thordora says:

    I’ve always been more annoyed at the manic sex drive I’ll get now and again, and have been happy that I haven’t been just that much more manic to actually get off the bus when I saw a cute ass wandering down the road. Now that I’m dealing with a SO on AD’s that very VERY much affect sex drive, I see what I’ve been like when depressed.

    And HOOO boy it blows. When the focus becomes on of “lasting long” or “staying hard”, it’s no longer intimate-it’s work. I’ve got toys-what I want is warmth and love-but it’s so very hard to not get wrapped up in all of it.

    I still spend time figuring out who I am underneath all of this-lots of time, and I don’t have the medical crap in the way. It’s fun and sucks, all at once. Be happy though-I think you’ve given yourself a LOT of great gifts this year. 🙂

  7. giannakali says:

    the drugs killed my sexual function…SSRI’s and neuroleptics both…

    I function again now that I’m off them…

    thought I’m too damn tired to feel like doing anything…

    Great sex is not dependent on a hard cock.

    those are wise words…intimacy does not rely on complete sexual functioning either….

    peace to you.

  8. Gabriel... says:

    Akakáume XUP… the gentlemanly thing I can promise, but maybe not so much the euphoric. I’m pretty sure this was the first time on this blog I’ve even admitted to having sex, so any discussion in later posts about anything dealing with sex is pretty much guaranteed to be written euphemistically and discretely.

    Demat dit brahnamin… thanks. The great thing about using steps as a metaphor is it always makes sense. Like, even if we fall back three steps after moving forward two, we’ve proven we can move forward. Now we just have to work on the not falling backwards part. In my case the good news isn’t “everything’s treated”, it’s “I’ve proven to myself the treatments work”. Now I just have to work at getting better at the scheduling bits.

    Madainn mhath Scooter… I understand.

    Marhay na aldaw bipolarlife… you’re lucky, there are far worse things to be repeating in your head. There is, for example, the entire Van Halen catalogue featuring Sammy Hagar. Thanks for the best wishes. The ‘new found health’ is still in the very preliminary stages, but I’m hoping to string a couple of weeks of healthy feeling together just to see if I can get used to it…

    Pitsupai megan… your site has been down all day. I hope nothing tragic has happened. “Properly? By whose definition?” I was using the definition offered in most dictionaries and encyclopedia’s to the question of “what’s generally supposed to happen towards the end of intercourse.” It might be a limiting definition, but that’s only because I was limiting the question. Other stuff, during those occasions when stuff was indeed being done, did and does occur (ie: I do what I can for the people involved).

    “Great sex is not dependent on a hard cock.”

    True enough. But it’s amazing how quickly someone can fall out of a mood when they find theirs isn’t working. Again. Then having explain away the lack of one to new and different people every time there is a new and different person is never, ever fun. In female-diabetic terminology, at least in terms of ‘things not working properly’, I think this would be somewhat comparable: in addition to a significant number of women losing their sex drive, “women are also more prone to problems with decreased vaginal lubrication… and may suffer from recurring vaginitis… which can make sexual intercourse painful.” Somewhat similar.

    Zhoyo Gianna… “erectile dysfunction, diminished libido and delayed/attenuated or absent orgasm (dysorgasmia or anorgasmia)” are side effects to most common antidepressants. But the only one I’ve taken post-1988 is Wellbutrin, which is the exception to the rule. Wellbutrin has been shown to actually stimulate the libido. But there’s only so much I can ask of the drug.

    It will be interesting… with the depressions mostly under control, and the diabetes symptoms soon to be lifting, or at least minimizing, the Wellbutrin could (could) kick whatever rebounding sex drive I have into a whole different gear. Maybe I should have asked for the girl in blue jeans’ number.

    You and Megan are right, “intimacy does not rely on complete sexual functioning” but not being able to achieve “complete sexual functioning” over several episodes generally turns potentially exciting sexual relationships into relatively not exciting “just friends” relationships.

  9. dame says:

    two words, amigo:

    barry white.

    okay, i’m sorry. i’m so immature. i can’t talk about sex. i giggle when i see the word ‘c**k’.

    alrighty, i’m leaving now.

    hang ’em high, mister!



  10. Gabriel... says:

    Halabok nak dame (not dame)… during the last relationship I was in I downloaded a best of Barry White album called “The Collection”. I actually found some of the spoken lyrics too hilarious to maintain any focus. I think next time, assuming there’ll be a next time, I’ll just stick with Led Zeppelin II, III and IV.

    I feel the same way about “cock”… especially when the one being referenced is mine.

  11. Pingback: Friday Conversations With My Psychiatrist | December 19, 2008 « …salted lithium.

  12. says:

    The picture you posted for this blog entry is seriously uncool. You take a picture of some random woman’s ass and put it on the web? That’s a violation, brotha.

    Unless you were talking about the chips. Then I understand.

  13. Gabriel... says:

    “…seriously uncool.”? “…brotha.”?

    Like I said in my response to your other comment… you’re coming across like you know me when I’m pretty sure we’ve never met. Feel free to email me and explain the connection, if there is one, but otherwise that’s not cool.

    This photo is actually the perfect one to illustrate the point of this post. And a relatively innocent photo of this sort may be a violation of whatever code you’ve put together as you lead the other virgins on a quest against the WoW dragon, but of all the hundreds who’ve read this post you’re the first to complain, or to miss the connection between photo and post.

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