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.