This post discusses anxiety and depression and may be triggering for some readers.
The thought of taking antidepressants had lodged itself deep in the back of my mind for quite some time before I mustered up the courage to share it with my GP.
I was embarrassed of turning into a blubbering mess as soon as the question "what brings you here?" was asked, and scared of being told by yet another person that the way I’d been feeling was just 'all in my head.'
I remember finally going to the GP and making a case for why I needed antidepressants very well. The world was only two days into the god-awful year we’ve come to know (and not love) as 2020, and I was back in my hometown. I’d been in the throes (the very dark throes) of a full-blown anxiety disorder – and I had felt less myself than ever for the better part of half a year.
I struggled to regulate my emotions and experienced panic attacks on more days of the week than not. I lost my appetite at any hint of distress and at my worst; I weighed a meagre 44 kilograms. Grossly underweight and unwell, mentally at least, the dark cloud that had formed over me was not far off swallowing me whole.
My GP could see this dark cloud too, so he prescribed me with an antidepressant.
Watch How to talk to people with anxiety. Post continues after video.
I was told the undesirable side-effects that I would likely experience as my body adjusted to balancing neurotransmitters: headaches, fatigue, nausea, insomnia and increased feelings of anxiety and depression.
I was then told that these side-effects could stick around for up to six months once you first start taking any form of SSRI. However, as I sat in the chair next to my GP’s desk, what I was not told was the impact that antidepressants could have on sexual function and my sexual wellbeing as a whole.
My libido had already taken a bit of a dip due to the anxiety I’d been experiencing, so I wasn’t really in the business of getting down to business (if you know what I mean). But I do not remember fondly one of the first times I masturbated since being on the antidepressant. Not to be hyperbolic, but trying to cum (with a vibrator, may I add) felt like climbing up the steepest part of Mount Everest.
Prior to being on the antidepressant, I’d been pretty lucky when it came to having an orgasm. During masturbation, it was a rarity for me not to cum at least three times. While not being able to have an orgasm was an exercise in me recognising my past privilege, it was just as much an exercise in me thinking that there was something wrong with me.