By LADY CHATTERLY
As the stigma around talking about mental health issues slowly disappears (too slowly, for my liking, but that’s another story) many more people have courageously told their stories and shared their struggles with mental illnesses such as depression.
Arguably, we’re more familiar with the language of depression these days. We know that depression is more than just a low mood. That it’s not something you can just “snap out of.” That beating it can be one hell of a challenge.
I’m not going to go over what we already know about depression. I want to talk about sex. And how depression, and the drugs sometimes prescribed to treat it , can wreak havoc on your sex life. Still reading? I thought so.
One commonly experienced symptom of depression is loss of libido. When I suffered from an episode of severe depression approximately twelve months ago, this was one of the first things I noticed.
It was pretty hard to miss actually. I went from being a raging nympho to being completely disinterested in sex. It’s not particularly surprising really. When you’re struggling with feelings of low self-worth, with tears and low energy, the last thing you feel like doing is shagging your partner. No matter how much you love them. And that goes for both men and women.
The antidepressant medication I was prescribed by my GP to treat my depression, listed loss of libido as a potential side effect. Awesome. Like my libido could get any lower. My doctor also casually mentioned that “if things weren’t working the way they used to” in the bedroom, I should let him know. Whatever that meant.
As my depression gradually lifted over the coming months, my libido returned. And with it, I discovered a new problem; I was completely unable to reach orgasm. Nothing seemed to get me over the line. And oh boy was it frustrating. For me and for my husband. On a handful of times I eventually got there, but only after a mammoth effort. I became genuinely concerned about the possibility of my husband suffering a heart attack in the service of getting me off.
For him, it was almost a personal crusade, as if my inability to orgasm somehow reflected poorly on his manhood. Given it would often take up to an hour or more, it wasn’t long before the mere thought of sex became exhausting. I could not be bothered. It reached the point when I was begrudgingly rolling over and offering myself up as a vessel, which understandably didn’t thrill the man either. Our sex life took a massive dive. I started to stress about the state of our marriage.
Initially, I didn’t connect the dots. I didn’t realise my inability to achieve the big ‘O’ and on those few lucky occasions, the time it took to do so, may have been due to my antidepressant. When it finally dawned on me that there might be a connection, I consulted Dr Google.