What do you mean, mental illness?

I suffer from a mental illness:  It’s called sex addiction.

I don’t like the term “mental illness.”  I would much rather refer to it as an “intimacy disorder” or “obsessive compulsive disorder.”  But it is what it is.

Consequently, I am not to blame for this illness any more than I am to blame for being a white male who happens to be a border-line diabetic.  I didn’t consciously choose to be an addict.  I didn’t wake up one day and say to myself, “I think I’ll become a sex addict.  Yep.  That really works for me.”

Like any addiction, I pretty much fell into it.  No amount of will power is enough to break its spell; it had me by the short and curly’s.  It took on a life of its own, and controlled me every day, all day.

But, really, do we need to refer to it as a mental illness?

I remember the problems this addiction caused in my psyche.  I became a pathological liar.  I lied about things that I didn’t need to lie about.  I lived a double life.  I felt paranoid most of the time.  I became clinically depressed – always anxious – and living in a black hole.  Sounds like mental illness, doesn’t it?

I used to beat myself up about my shameful behavior.  But I realize now that I don’t have to treat myself with such disdain and self-loathing.

Fortunately, I learned that I am worth a lot more than I thought.  And I learned that I am responsible for my own happiness.  That’s very different from feeling like I am to blame.  I may be powerless but I am not helpless.

There is an inner power within me that I can tap into in order to overcome the powerful pull of my addiction, and heal my mental illness.