My Bipolar Disorder Pushed Me Into Drugs and Prostitution
May 2021 - 4 Min read

My Bipolar Disorder Pushed Me Into Drugs and Prostitution

Hey Bin Writer Progressive Millennial

A young woman writes about her experience self-medicating for bipolar disorder.

I never knew what being bipolar meant. I always associated it with my dad yelling at my mom whenever she was in a bad mood. “Your mom’s bipolar, I swear to God,” he would tell me. 

I have this memory of him telling my mom to “take her happy pills.” As a 12-year-old, I had no idea she was depressed; I assumed the medicine was something to make her laugh when she was having a bad day. OK, so bipolar is when you’re happy one minute and mean the next, got it. Mental health was never talked about in our household. It was swept under the rug, never acknowledged. Even after I was diagnosed with an eating disorder at 18, my parents refused to recognize there was something wrong in my brain. 

Until I got diagnosed with bipolar disorder this past summer.

Promiscuity as a Form of Self-Medicating

"Sugaring" doesn't always involve sex, but in this case it was an entry into sex work.

Bipolar disorder is defined as “a disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.” I found myself exhibiting the behavioral symptoms, which include risk-taking behaviors, excess desire for sex, hyperactivity and impulsivity. I’d have racing thoughts and stumble through sentences. 

I started “sugaring” when I was 22. I heard it was easy money: Go out with an older man for dinner in exchange for a luxurious lifestyle. My experience was a bit different. The first “daddy” I had made sex a large part of our arrangement. He was only five years older, so it felt like having a boyfriend who didn’t care about my day and gave me $400 for taking his cock. I dissociated the first time I slept with him, and I would with every man I met. 

After a while, my job wasn’t “having a sugar daddy” anymore; it was prostitution. I was selling my body for money and disguising it with something people wanted to try. I’d disappear for hours, sometimes days. I let myself get into Ubers with men I didn’t know and go to places I didn’t know. I met strangers in hotel rooms. I acted out rape fantasies. I always said yes until I finally learned to say no.

I stepped away from that life, but I didn’t know the worst was yet to come.

It’s no secret that American healthcare sucks.

Living With Bipolar Disorder During the Pandemic

It’s no secret that American healthcare sucks.

The pandemic took a major toll on my mental health, but I kept the storm inside me to myself. I felt selfish complaining when the rest of the world was in the same boat. I refused to go to therapy. In my opinion, it's not my place to whine when millions have it much worse. So I self-medicated with drugs, booze, even sex. 

My best friend urged me to go to the ER after a breakdown last August. I kicked and screamed that I was fine, that I didn’t need any help. I finally caved on one condition: I could bring my stuffed giraffe. I’d never been to an emergency room before. I was by myself, lost, looking for someone who could help. I made my way to the nurses’ station, where a nice man asked why I was there. 

“I’m pretty sure I’m bipolar,” I said with tears running down my face.

“We’re gonna get you some help, OK?” he said.

Eventually, I was called back to the “we need to make sure you won’t kill yourself” ward. Every 20 minutes, a new doctor came to my room, and every 20 minutes, I told my story while they took notes with the same stone-cold expression.

Self-Medicating Is Easier—and Cheaper—Than Getting Professional Help for Bipolar Disorder

It’s no secret that American healthcare sucks. I couldn’t get in with a psychiatrist without a recommendation from a general practitioner, and they couldn’t recommend one until I saw a therapist, no matter how much I cried on the phone, begging someone to help. 

I had to spend nearly $1,000 (with insurance) to talk to someone. I was sick, and no one would help me. I didn’t have a broken arm or terminal illness, so I was shoved to the back of the line. After I finally spoke with a doctor, he recommended switching the medications that my general practitioner—who had little to no psychiatric experience—had prescribed. I stopped those cold turkey, and for five days straight, I threw up and lost control of my thoughts. I wanted to kill someone. If I could have gotten away with it, I would’ve stabbed someone on the street. 

Once the storm settled, I felt myself again, but I knew it was temporary.

I’m high on my way to my parents’ house for Easter. 
Medication hides mental illness; it doesn’t cure it.

Whether You Take Medication or Self-Medicate for Bipolar Disorder Doesn’t Matter

Medication hides mental illness; it doesn’t cure it. It can’t take your demons away. It hides them in a closet, where they wait to take you away. I even tried crack. I didn’t even think about it; I just did it. My boyfriend worries I’ll disappear. I honestly don’t even know if I’m gonna be able to finish this piece. So far, I’ve bought a desk, lamp, new table, diet cat food, shampoo and a couch. I’ve cleaned the house twice and snuck the rest of my coke at 9 a.m. And, as of ten minutes ago, I got drunk while dog sitting. 

Mania doesn’t give a warning when it’s coming or tell you how long it’s going to stay. 

I’m spending insane amounts of money on cocaine. It’s an expensive habit, but I crave it every day, and it takes me 30 seconds to get it. I can’t sit still, and I’m five minutes away from texting my dealer because I need to get high. In fact, I’m high on my way to my parents’ house for Easter. 

I want to believe I’ll get better, but optimism only lasts so long. You can have a strong support system, but it can’t fix you. You can have a prescription, but it can’t stop your dark thoughts. You can have vices, but they won’t cure the sadness in your heart. 

It’s on you to try, even when you’ve given up; but then again, when have I ever taken my own advice?

Hey Bin Writer Progressive Millennial

Discover Themes

Going Places

It's about time we all got out of the house, wouldn't you say?



This should be fun. We’re talking NSFW fun, okay?


Head Space

Chances are you’ve been on your own rollercoaster ride with mental health recently. The Doe is here for you. 

Mental Health

Common Ground

The environment is a constant in the news, but even more so of late. Climate change, the Australian wildfires and, of course, the spread of a global, animal-borne disease have most of us thinking about our planet in unfamiliar ways.


Game On

While the sporting world has been rocked by the pandemic, it looks for a major rebound this spring: March madness, indeed.



Some folks have family trees that go back generations, others don’t know who their birth mothers are. No matter what, the human desire to know where one came from runs deep.


Hi, Society

Okay, so how many movies did you see in the theater last year? And live concerts? Yeah, that’s what we figured. And yet!

Pop Culture

And Beyond

The year is 2020. Science and technology influence everything from day-to-day tasks to our health and longevity. And yet an ocean of advancement still awaits. The question is, how do we dive in?

Science and Tech

What's Good

To say this year has sucked would be an understatement. But amidst the hot dumpster fire that is 2020, we're looking for a silver lining.

Acts of Kindness

State of the Union

It’s perhaps the most contentious and consequential election in modern American history: As Biden and Trump square off, The Doe jumps into the debate.


The System

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Portland. Chicago. Lafayette Square. As cities across the United States grapple with protests, unrest and rebellion, The Doe takes a deep dive into justice and the system.


Subject Matters

Reading, writing and arithmetic ain’t what it used to be a decade ago—or even a few months ago.


What She Said

It’s difficult to articulate what it's like being a woman. Hell, even the spelling of the word is cause for discussion (we see you, womxn).


Four Letter Word

Love: A lot of songs, poems and multi-volume treatises have been devoted to the subject. So, in these strange days when we could use it the most, what’s left to say about the strongest of human emotions?  Plenty.


On the Record

We’re very proud of our particular and deliberate themes at The Doe. They cover a broad range of topics, ones that we feel are crucial to discourse in the world today. But still!