It occurred to me when I was writing about feeling sexy but frustrated that I should talk in more detail about anorgasmia. I really didn’t want to have to link to Wikipedia again, but finding a decent alternative one-stop resource was nigh on impossible.
Fortunately, proving that I’m totally down with the zeitgeist (or, you know, just not that unusual – which is a scandal in itself), there’ve been some fantastic blogs lately about sex and depression, and medication-related anorgasmia.
Until the past month, my go-tos on this subject have been Epiphora and Redhead Bedhead. But then along came Crista Anne’s #OrgasmQuest. Read Rachel Kramer Bussel’s take on it for the Philadelphia City Paper, Jezebel’s article (this comment in particular reads like it was written by my life-twin) and Crista’s blog for blow-by-blow updates. I particularly love her take on partnered sex now she’s mid-quest. I’ve yet to have an orgasm through partnered sex. I’m in no rush – I have too much fun simply enjoying the ride – and it’s great to read about other people experiencing that too.
As Crista says, when explaining the quest, it’s not about demanding an orgasm every time, or trying to heal the depression with sex.
For me, at any rate, it’s about de-stigmatising sex. It’s about de-stigmatising mental health. It’s about those of us who are brave enough, determined enough (shameless enough?), to broadcast it as loud as we can that there are side effects to the pills that are supposed to give us our lives back – side effects that can take away the parts of our lives that made the rest bearable, that other patients might not feel able to talk about, leaving them miserable in a whole different way.
It’s about being able to say “no, this isn’t me” – and getting that accepted more widely, in the same way that it’s now accepted (mostly) that feeling like a zombie is not normal or desirable.
Living well does not mean living a partly muted life.
So much fell into place when I got my sex drive back, when I could start working out what I liked and what I didn’t, why it had been so miserable for me before – and I refused to believe that all those people enjoying it were doing so in spite of numbness and/or fingernails-down-the-blackboard oversensitivity (occasionally I managed both at the same time. That was fun). Getting my sex drive back – then getting my orgasms back – did as much for my mental health, my general wellbeing, my ability to deal with the rest of life, as did treating the mental symptoms and getting good counselling.
Like Lady Laid Bare I’ve never had an orgasm free of SSRIs. But then I’ve never had good mental health without them either, not as a grown up. Given the choice between not having orgasms or not being a functioning member of society, there’s no competition. But I’m wholeheartedly in agreement with her when she says:
It is your life and you have every right to question your current treatment and look for a better way of going about it.