I’ve been having a hard time writing these last couple of weeks. New insurance led to a switch in which particular generic form of my antidepressant I received and lo and behold, the different one isn’t quite getting the job done. I’ve been a bit weepy (ok, more than a bit, pretty much anything involving dads gets me choked up… just happened while I was typing that), a bit brain-foggy, having a hard time focusing or getting stuff done (sorry if I owe you an email!), taking occasional sobbing breaks and getting hit with intermittent waves of free-floating guilt and paranoia. It sounds really bad but it’s kind of like when you live on a street with a lot of potholes, people who never drive down it think it’s the worst thing ever but you’ve learned to navigate, right? Anyway, while my doctor and insurance company duke it out (that’s right, they are currently arguing over why it’s worthwhile to treat me with the correct medication) I’m taking my vitamins, exercising and trying to focus outward (speaking of, congrats to the giveaway winners!). To that end I have come up with this handy little list.
Sometimes depression can suck the sexy right out of you which can be even more depressing. Let’s talk about some ways to fight that, shall we?
1. Remember, sex positivity isn’t about having all the orgasms
I suspect some of you read the title of this and thought “Seriously? I’m depressed and you want me to worry about sex? Why don’t I just cure cancer while I’m at it?!” but remember staying sex positive doesn’t mean going and having all the sex with all the screaming orgasms. Take that pressure away first off. In this case I’m not even asking you to stay sex positive in the broader whole-world, big picture sense. I’m talking about you for you. I’m just asking that you remember your identity as a sexual being. Some depressed people don’t want to have sex. Sometimes medications render depressed people incapable of orgasm (we’ll come back to that in a minute) this does not mean sex is something that exists separately from you and only for others. Sometimes one of the hardest parts of depression is the chasm that seems to exist between you and the rest of the “not depressed” world (as you perceive it) don’t add to that by saying “sex positivity? eff that noise! I’m depressed!” just work with me here. :-)
2. Find the things that make you feel good
When we’re depressed the world can get very bland. Things lose their flavor and it’s easy to sink into that. Remember that you deserve to feel good and, if you are not feeling necessarily sexual, perhaps take the opportunity to explore the sensual. We sometimes confuse these things but they are not exactly the same. I encourage you to explore sensations, even if that just means you curl up with an awesome cashmere throw or take a scented bath, indulge your senses and find what appeals to them. For more on exploring sensuality, check out Elle Chase (the woman behind Lady Cheeky) she is a sensuality expert!
3. Make conscious decisions regarding sex
It can be easy to go on auto-pilot during times of depression. We can let sex fall by the wayside or engage in sexual behaviors without examining them. Stay conscious and aware. Make sure what you are doing is serving you and bringing you pleasure. Ask yourself what is motivating you. Is it coming from inside (If you are having sex is it because you think it will feel good? If you aren’t having sex is it because it doesn’t appeal to you right now?) or from somewhere else (Are you having sex because you feel like it’s expected of you or not having sex because you feel unattractive or undeserving?)? Knowing the answers to those questions can help you make decisions that make you feel good and to understand where you’re at personally and why you feel how you feel — like the potholes I mentioned earlier.
A special note for people with partners: Keep them in the loop. What is going on with you is affecting them and if you avoid talking about it you can end up with a lot of tension and resentment, which no one (depressed or not) needs.
4. Remember, you are not how much sex you have.
People are funny, we like to compare ourselves to each other but, you know what? When it comes to sex the only people affected by how much you are having are you and your partners. I know it can be hard to look around the world and feel like your are “supposed to” be having more or less or whatever but you are not your sex. Sometimes we have a bunch sometimes we have none and it’s all good. Whatever you need right now it what’s “right.”
5. Advocate for your pleasure.
I mentioned earlier that some depressed people lose their ability to orgasm to medications. This has happened to me it has happened to Epiphora, hell, depending on the particular drug the percentage of patients experiencing sexual side effects range from 15 to 75%. The thing is doctors rely on patients to report this. Patients get embarrassed, doctors don’t ask and people end up living with side effects way longer than they should have to. The first time I experienced this side effect I was told, before I took the drug, it was unlikely to happen and then no one asked about it so I never said anything, I just lived with it. Now I know better. If you take meds and they seem to be messing with your sex life, talk to your doctor. There are better options.
Most of this amounts to “take good care of yourself”. Generally it’s a good idea to eat well, get lots of rest, move your body and all that good stuff— make yourself feel as good as you can. Don’t forget sex in that process. So often we neglect our sexual selves, even in the best of times, but by taking a few small steps you can stay sex positive
Please seek professional help if depression is leading to thoughts of suicide or making it difficult to care for yourself. Visit Mentalhealth.gov for resources or call Crisis Call Center‘s hotline at 1.800.273.8255