Just work with me here ...
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) and a bit brain-foggy. I'm having a hard time focusing or getting stuff done (sorry if I owe you an email!). And I need to take taking occasional sobbing breaks while I am also getting hit with intermittent waves of free-floating guilt and paranoia.
I know, 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 that road think it’s the worst thing ever, but those who live there simply learn to navigate it as effectively as possible.
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.
Here are 5 ways to find your sex positive state of mind when you're struggling with depression.
1. Remind yourself that 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?!”
Staying sex positive doesn’t mean going and having all the sex with all the screaming orgasms. Take that pressure away. 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 suggesting 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 doesn't 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.
If you aren't 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.
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 where your motivation is coming from.
- Is it coming from internal sources? 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?
- Is it coming external sources? Are you having sex because you feel like it’s expected of you? Are you not having sex because you feel unattractive or undeserving?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you make decisions you feel good about, as well as to understand where you’re at personally and why you feel the way you do.
A special note for people with partners: Keep them in the loop. What is going on with you affects them too. 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 you're “supposed to” be having more-or-less-or-whatever-but-not-the-amount-you're-actually-having of sex. Sometimes we have a bunch, sometimes we have none, and it’s all good. Whatever you need right now is what’s “right.”
5. Advocate for your pleasure.
I mentioned earlier that some people lose their ability to orgasm or experience other sexual side effects from antidepressant medications. The thing is, doctors rely on patients to report this. Many patients are too embarrassed to volunteer that information, many doctors never ask, and so people end up living with these side effects way longer than they should have to.
The first time I experienced this I had been told before starting the medication that such a side effect was unlikely to happen. Then no one asked about it and I never said anything, so I just lived with it.
Now I know better. If you're taking meds and they seem to be messing with your sex life, talk to your doctor. There may be far better options you can explore.
Most of these points amount to the same basic concept — “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. By taking a few small steps you can stay sex positive no matter what.
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.
This article was originally published at The RedHead BedHead. Reprinted with permission from the author.