Wherefore art thou, libido?


One of the symptoms of depression generally is a lack of interest in sex. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone, as it’s difficult to imagine taking joy in anything when one is suffering under the weight of the world. It’s a symptom that didn’t affect me this time, however.

Rather than push the boy away, I pulled him towards me and used sex as a coping mechanism. He was a sexy punching bag on which I worked out all my anxiety, fear and panic, leaving me calm and serene and happy. It was truly the only thing I could rely on to make me feel better, to quiet the endless noise of stress and what-ifs in my head.

Enter anti-depressants. Due to their very nature, I guess the manufacturers don’t worry too much if the side-effects include a loss of libido. After all, most people who suffer from depression have already experienced a drop in their sex drive — they won’t be needing their libido anyway, they must reason. Well I needed mine, and I want it back.

“Sexual disturbances” it’s called on the information leaflet, listed beside side-effects including occasional nausea (check) and decreased or increased appetite (um… possibly?). “Delayed ejaculation, problems with erection, decreased sexual drive and women may experience difficulties achieving orgasm”., they say. Well fuck you very much, Lundbeck pharmaceutical company. Way to suck ALL the fun out of mental illness.

All joking aside though, I can’t adequately explain how discomfiting it is for me to lose my libido. Though my mind was rebelling against me and filling me with doubt and insecurity, I was (and always am) certain and secure in my sexuality. I like sex, a lot. I like a lot of sex, a lot. I’ve come to terms with being kinky and had finally found my match in bed. Sexuality is the keystone to a lot of my beliefs, my personality, and my self-esteem. It’s why I don’t hate my body (how could I hate something that gives me and my partner so much pleasure?) and it allows me to feel sexy every single day.

To have that taken away made me feel like less of a person. It’s as if depression was a calculated attack on every single part of my being. Just when I thought, “well at least I still have my sex life, and isn’t that really what life is all about?”, in comes the cure for the depression and takes that away, too. It felt wholly unfair, and I remember crying about it to the boy in the early days of my treatment. As if “good at sex” was my one achievement and not having a wild and crazy sex life was yet another failure on my part.

Of course, I’ve gained some perspective. 3 months into my treatment and we’ve found ways of dealing with the sad demise of my libido. I must explain, though, that when I say I’ve lost my libido, it means I only want sex like twice a week now. Like a regular person, perhaps, but for me that’s a sizeable decrease.

And it’s not as if the very thought of the boy touching me is repulsive — far from it. I WANT to want sex. I lie in bed and wish fervently that I was horny because he’s so snuggly and warm and so damn cute and I want to want to ravish him. But more often than not these days, the body is not willing.

It takes lots of cajoling to get me physically in the mood…  mentally, I want sex as much as I ever did. I think I’ve trained myself into craving sex on a more-than-physical level. It’s therapy for me, and my brain knows I need it before my body registers it wants it. IF my body registers it wants it.

But, after all, this is what sex toys and lube are for. We are coping, and the boy will probably laugh when he reads this because we do still have a lot of sex. Outwardly, our sex life is great. But the struggle inwardly, for me to bridge that gap between a cognitive want and a physical desire — it’s devastating in a way.

I know that in time I won’t be medicated anymore and I’ll feel more myself sexually and mentally. I know that the trade-off — a loss of libido vs the loss of my mind — is worth it.

But I can’t help but feel cheated that the price I have to pay for sanity is sexuality. No fair.

6 Responses to “Wherefore art thou, libido?”

  1. There’s really not enough awareness about this issue. Thanks for blogging about it!

    • Thanks Colin 🙂 Bit fed up of the secrecy surrounding depression. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, yet shame is a big part of depression.

      • Yup. Vicious circle! I try to talk about it on twitter sometimes and it’s amazing the people who come out of the woodwork. 🙂

  2. 4 s

    Wandered over from theantiroom – and just had to comment with a resounding YES! It took a few tries to find anti-depressants that worked for me, and once I did find them -bam- goodbye libido.. Added to that fun fact, my partner was on the same pills, and felt his libido go downhill too. It. Fucking. Sucks.

  3. 5 Chelly

    The worst part for me of being on anti-depressants was the doctor claiming that because I wasn’t in a relationship, it ‘didn’t matter’ that I had no sex drive. Of course it matters, I didn’t feel like me without it!

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