The Impact of Mental Illness on my Sex Life

Lots of people have taken the time to start and contribute to the conversation about depression and sex. Crista and JoEllen are two big names in the realm of sex and depression. Crista founded #OrgasmQuest and received national attention for it, and JoEllen is writing a book called, “The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression & The Conversations We Aren’t Having”. Just last week they ran a panel at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit called “The Monster Under The Bed: Starting the Conversation About Sex and Depression“. With that in mind, they’ve pretty extensively covered depression and sex a lot more adequately than I ever will.

Back in 2012 Epiphora wrote about losing two weeks of her sex life to Zoloft, a common prescription for anxiety and depression.

Girly Juice has written about her anxiety a few times, most notably some very good advice about anxiety and dating.

Lorax of Sex wrote about why they sometimes don’t write because of living with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and compulsive disorders.

Sarah wrote about stopping SSRIs how it has affected her life.

I have bipolar 2, generalized anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia, and I can pinpoint the ways that each of them has affected my relationship with my sex life.

I have been party to both major depressive episodes and bipolar depression. When I was majorly depressed, I usually had no interest in sex, because I had no interest in anything that didn’t involve sleeping or crying. With bipolar depression (which I’m medicated for), my desire for sex is almost nonexistent, and what I do sexually tends to reflect that. If I masturbate, I do it as quickly and as uncomplicatedly as possible, and it’s usually out of habit. This go around I haven’t masturbated in over a month and a half. I have so little interest in masturbation right now that I can’t even bring myself to do it. Mentally I am so unprepared for sex that when my husband tries to initiate it, I’ll have a go at participating to see if I fall into the mood, but usually the attempt comes to an abrupt halt because I start crying. When I’m having depressed sex my mind isn’t in it, and it makes me feel vulnerable and defective.

I find myself almost exclusively depressed as a bipolar person. My hypomanic phases are terribly infrequent, which is a shame because I’m convinced that my hypomania is how non-mentally-ill people feel all the time, other than the decreased need to sleep and mildly impaired judgment. I feel sexually motivated and powerful when I’m hypomanic. I masturbate with a wide range of tools when I’m hypomanic. I want to have sex with more edge play when I’m hypomanic. I thought polyamory was a good idea when I was hypomanic, only to find that I was too exhausted and had no interest in maintaining multiple relationships once I came down.

My anxiety disorder comes into play in sex, too. If I’m having a particularly anxious day, I’ll have a hard time focusing on sex. I’ll become unexpectedly and irrationally insecure, and worry about weird things, like how my orgasm face looks, or what if I say the wrong name. The latter worry is the strangest, because it’s not like I fantasize about other people during sex – it’s just a fear I’ve always had about having sex. I’ll be hyper-aware of my body size and too afraid of hurting my partner to really enjoy intercourse. On the whole, anxiety makes me entirely too tense to have sex. Some people fuck to unwind, but the very idea of fucking will just wind me up more.

My agoraphobia seems like a strange thing to include here, but it really does affect my sex life. Lately I’ve noticed that, even in a depressive state, I’m able to get aroused when I’m not staying in my own home. An unwillingness to leave the house and inability to go anywhere alone has made my world quite small. All of my stress, worries, and emotions live at home. It’s my escape from the horrors of the outside world, but since it’s where I am 24/7 it’s where I face all of my internal horrors. I don’t get much in the way of housework, hobbies, self-care, or even work-work done at home, and the tasks I’ve procrastinated on loom over me no matter what room I’m in. My home is the nexus of my stress. I am starting to think that I can’t fuck in the nexus of my stress… and frankly, I don’t know what to do about it.

I don’t know how much of my ruined sex drive is the result of my mental illnesses and how much can be attributed to the medications treating them, but I need the medication, so I can’t quit my pills just to salvage my sex life. I miss desiring sex. I miss the intimacy and joy of having sex with my partner. I miss the fun of using my toy collection and testing new products. I don’t have the money to see a therapist, so I’m left to sort it out on my own, and it’s not working. How can I get my sex life back on track?

    Casual Ableism: The Conversation We Need to Have

    (TW: ableist language, discussion of ableism)

    There comes a time in every company’s lifespan where they make an advertising mistake. For SheVibe, that was recently, when they ran a sale with “Crazy Edna” as the mascot. This drew the ire of Mary, who made a series of tweets regarding the incident. I will only quote a select few here, so if you’d like to read them you’ll have to go through her old tweets.

    This advertising campaign was in no way intended to be offensive – it’s a reference to Crazy Eddie, an electronics franchise founded in 1971 that popped up in the Northeastern United States. The problem is that Crazy Eddie’s name and slogan (“His prices are INSANE!”) were ableist. This post is somewhat long and discusses ableist language, including its historical context, common usage, role in marginalizing women and the mentally ill, and perspectives regarding the reclamation of the word. At the end I will further discuss the situation with SheVibe and what they did to rectify the situation. (more…)

      Sex in Someone Else’s House

      There is a very real possibility that my husband and I will be moving in with my parents soon. Not permanently, but probably for at least a year while we finish renovating our house so we can put it on the market, and while we look for a home down in their town.

      In lots of ways, it’ll be great. It’ll be a cheap living situation while we’re still paying the bills associated with the home we currently own, my husband will have a better job in the area, and I’ll finally be near my family, which is really important to me. In other ways it is not stellar: I am worried about having sex in someone else’s house.

      Photo of a key holeMake no mistake, I did the nasty when I lived with my parents. I masturbated (and usually had phone sex) every night when I lived at home. When my boyfriend (at the time) moved in, we had sex regularly. But I also lived on a different floor of the house and could hear people coming down the steps. The new house is only one floor, and although the room we’re going to occupy is on the other side of the house from my parents’ room, it doesn’t have a locking door.

      Naturally, this means I’m going to have a talk with my mother about the importance of knocking, and in doing so I’m probably implying that I’m going to do the nasty in her house. It’s funny that I’m so open with them about my blog and the fact that I have sex, but when it comes to the admission that I would do it in their house I turn bright red and it’s the last conversation that I want to have. I can think of 20 things I’d rather do before I tell my parents that I want privacy so I can diddle myself (or my husband).

      Why do I have this weird aversion to having sex in my parents’ home? Maybe it has to do with the fact that I didn’t grow up in this house, so I don’t have a room that was “my room,” where my privacy was respected. Maybe it’s because, as an adult, I feel more like a guest than a resident. Maybe it just has to do with the fact that most people think sex is shameful, and while my parents and I can joke about sex (or a lack thereof) all day long, that just feels very different from saying, “Hey, I’m probably going to bone someone in your house.”

      I’m sure that for some of you there’s a thrill to it, like the taboo or the possibility of getting caught makes it hot. I say more power to you. I’m just not sure when I’m going to be able to muster the will to have sex in a house where my parents are just 30 feet away. How do you do it?

        The Creep Factor

        Ella Dawson’s post titled The Boner Backlash (subtitled: STOP TELLING ME YOU WOULD STILL FUCK ME) hit home with me in a very personal way, and I imagine that anyone who writes about sex can relate, particularly if they’re perceived as women.

        People tend to get overly familiar when you write about sex, perform in sex, or work in the adult industry. To some degree this is fine, because many of us want to educate and are more than happy to discuss things to that end. There is a culture of sexual openness that I try to perpetuate as a sex blogger. I think we should be able to talk about sex openly, but there’s a big difference between discussing sex in a non-threatening way and telling someone you wanna stick your dick in them. There’s a difference between saying, “Tell me how that big dick feels when you slip it inside yourself,” and asking me how a particular dildo feels. There’s a difference between someone calling Tantus’ customer support line to learn more about how a particular toy works and calling customer support to nonconsensually talk dirty at the person on the other end of the line.

        When a woman mentions sex in any way, creepy people (most often men – why is it always you, men?) lose their heads and assume that these women are welcoming all sexual discussion and advances.
        As Ella says in her blog post:

        Readers—male readers, let me be clear—often think they know exactly who I am after reading a few of my essays. They are usually wrong.

        These men assume that they know us because we expose an intimate part of our lives, and they assume that they’re welcome to associate with us in overly familiar terms… terms that most of these guys (hopefully) know not to use on a first date, or even a third, yet they’ll tweet and e-mail us using those familiar terms without even knowing our names.

         
        It’s like they think that by reading about our sexuality they’ve been transported into our bedrooms and we’re sitting around in lingerie, waiting. What they don’t realize is that if we’re sitting around in lingerie waiting for someone it is not them. They are STRANGERS to us. This overly familiar feeling is completely one-sided. If these men appeared in our bedrooms we would be terrified because they are uninvited strangers barging into our homes.

         
        And don’t think that apologizing or claiming that you’re not a pervert when you try to barge into our home helps. After all, Ella’s reader that wrote to her assured her that he wasn’t a pervert:

        “To put that all together, and also read about how much you enjoy sex without condoms physically-speaking, everything just points to what a wonderful, sexy, and confident woman you are. Honestly, I was just like “WOW, this girl is just so damn sexy..”, and I don’t mean it in a perverted way at all.”

        Yes you do, you piece of shit. “WOW, this girl is just so damn sexy…” I really hate that this is supposed to be a compliment when it really just makes most of us feel pretty damn gross. I’ve heard this on Twitter, and I’ve heard it on Fetlife, and I’ve heard it OKCupid, and it really just makes me annoyed. Yes! I am sexy! And I don’t need some dude to tell me he thinks that. I don’t want to know when I’m desirable to some stranger, especially some cis man – sorry boys, but “Dick is abundant and low value.” Cis males are the key perpetrators of harassment like this and because of that I just have less tolerance for this shit from y’all.

        I don’t need a stranger to tell me I’m sexy. I don’t need a stranger to make conversation with me just to get closer to me with the intention of getting in my pants. I don’t WANT those things! I’m so sick of a world where we pretend that men are doing women a service by getting all up in their grill and singing songs of how fuckable they are. It’s not a compliment – it’s an affront.

         

        I’ve had people say they’d like to date and/or fuck me, and from certain people I have established relationships with it’s very flattering, but from the rest of you it’s a pesky buzzing noise like you’re some kind of fly circling my nethers. When in doubt use this handy rule of thumb: If I don’t start flirting with you, don’t try flirting with me.

         

        Back to Ella’s letter from her “fan,” I also get this manipulative element from his message. Did you catch it? That sort of “I-have-low-self-esteem” thing, saying something like, “I don’t expect you to write back.” It’s like he’s trying to downplay the entitlement in his message. Trying to guilt-trip her into a response? As if the goal is for Ella to write back and say, “Of course I was going to write back since you sent me such a lovely letter! We’re soul mates after all, because you realize how wonderful I am!”

         

        And it’s also just so awkward for everyone involved whenever a man tries to disguise his unwanted advances as hypotheticals: “if you did write back and one day we actually got to do ‘it’”. Do you know how this differs from the men that say, “When we fuck I’m going to do x, y, z to you?” It differs because the men who write in hypotheticals can shuffle backwards with their hands raised when we call them on their shit. “I was just saying if it ever happened! I didn’t mean it! It was hypothetical! I wasn’t being a creep!” Stop trying to cover it up. You were being a creep and we both know it.

         

        There’s not a lot for me to say that Ella hasn’t already said in her own post, but let me just lay the bottom line out for you folks again: when we write about sex we are never doing it for you. We are not inviting you to tell us about your dick. We are not saying we will date or fuck you… we’re not even saying you’re a candidate! And the minute you approach us spewing this repulsive harassment that you’ve tried to disguise as a compliment, you’re permanently ruling yourself out as a candidate, because you are actively demonstrating that you feel entitled to us.
        As Ella says:

        I do not exist to arouse. Sometimes I write erotica, but that does not mean I am personally interested in your arousal. And I am a woman who writes about sex, but I am not a woman whose sexuality you are entitled to.

        Preach!

          The Tantus General

          The Tantus General might be one of my new favorite dildos. It’s not the biggest dildo I own (that title goes to Amsterdam, which I still haven’t managed to get into my vagina), or the biggest dildo that I’ve fucked (the T-Rex is 2.25” in diameter whereas the General is only 2” at its widest). It is, however, a dildo that has provided me with one of the most satisfying orgasms I’ve ever had.

          When the General was offered to me, I hadn’t given it much thought before. It looked like a nice dildo, but it only came in black (a matte black, for those who are wondering) and featured a gentle shape with no gimmicks, so I’d only given its product page a cursory glance. I thought the biggest thing (no pun intended) it had going for it was its size. Do not make my mistake and underestimate the General. I accepted the review offer because I like to try new things, and I am so glad that I did.

          The Tantus GeneralI don’t recommend just trying to stick the General inside yourself first thing. It doesn’t have texture anywhere near that of the Rippler or the Diving Nun, but a 2” diameter can be considered somewhat sizeable, even though it starts at 1.75” at the head. Do yourself a favor and size up just in case. I warmed up by going from the LoveLife Adventure to the Tantus Cush O2 to the General and found the progression to be quite comfortable, but given that the Cush and the head of the General are the same size I probably could have skipped the Cush and moved on to the main event more quickly.

          I used the General vaginally and found it quite pleasing. The General’s gentle, full shape and slight curve gave me a really pleasant sensation of being full. The tip did hit my G-spot, and I felt the full effect of that by slowly thrusting it into me. As much as I love texture, I wasn’t disappointed by the General’s smoothness. It lends itself well to fucking yourself at any speed, and it was also really pleasing to leave inside myself and flex my muscles around. The girth is a beautiful thing.

          Heart-Eyed Cat EmojiTo be honest, I can’t say enough good things about the General. It was awesome to use. It might be my dildo bae. I would text it emojis. It sits on my bedside table and I stare longingly at it as I’m falling asleep. I picture us running through a field, barefooted, wearing airy white dresses that trail behind us and blow in the wind.

          The Tantus site recommends using the General for anal play, but since I don’t do much anal (for lots of reasons, which I’ll probably address in a blog post eventually) I didn’t try it there. Will did, and he loved it and gave it a rave review for prostate play.

          Everyone knows that I love Tantus and I cherish my relationship with them. Tantus has great employees, great ethics, and great toys. I cannot recommend them highly enough, and if you’re interested in the General, the T-Rex, or any of the other large toys Tantus is selling for 30% off during the Big Ass Sale, now is the time to spend your money there! Just use the code HEEHAW at checkout to receive your discount. The sale ends Thursday, June 18th, so buy some awesome toys now!

          Thank you, Tantus, for providing me with the General in exchange for an honest review!

          Tantus Hungry Banner

            The Tantus T-Rex

            The Tantus T-Rex

            I was really eager to try some giant dildos in honor of TantusBig Ass Sale, a sale of the biggest toys Tantus makes that you can put in your butt. While I don’t consider myself a size queen, I do love a good thick dildo every now and then. Sometimes you have an itch to be filled to the brim, and Tantus was kind enough to scratch it for me. Shoutout to Tantus, the real MVP of this blog post!

            The T-Rex has intrigued me ever since it came out. It has a very distinctive shape, a pronounced head, and some of the cutest balls I’ve ever seen on a dildo. (Seriously, I think they’re adorable.) I’ve never owned a dildo as big as the T-Rex, and when I saw it I knew that I would get one, one day, and I would conquer it.

            The good news is that I did conquer it. It was actually not difficult to get in because of the size with the progression of toys that I used. I used the OhMiBod Lovelife Adventure, then the Tantus Cush O2, then the Tantus General, then the T-Rex.

            It worked like a charm at first, but pushing in the T-Rex further in was an event. It was kind of like going downhill on a roller coaster… and then being jolted to a stop. When I was putting the head in it felt really great, and then the scraping started. The silicone of the T-Rex is pretty solid and the minute the pronounced ridge of the head came up against my pubic bone it scraped against it. When I pulled the T-Rex back out it scraped against my pubic bone again, and worse – the ridge caught against my bone. It was not good times, people. It was bad times. I tried this thrusting motion a few times before I decided that this was not a thrusting dildo.

            The Tantus T-Rex in purpleInstead I opted to leave the T-Rex inside of me while I used a vibrator on my clit. It was better than thrusting, but I still found the entire thing to be vaguely uncomfortable. When I brought myself to orgasm with the T-Rex inside of me the sensation of the orgasm itself was pretty awesome, but the feeling of clenching around an already uncomfortable dildo is not one that I’m eager to relive. It didn’t totally disrupt the experience, but I did notice it, and I did not like it. The fullness? It was great! But everything else just kind of felt off.

            I’ve had a few more orgasms with the T-Rex, and each one has been just as uncomfortable as the first. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I have to say that the unpleasantness of having my pubic bone scraped has well and truly convinced me that I have no desire to give birth… like, ever.

            I think the discomfort is because of how firm the toy is. Unlike some of Tantus’ other large toys, the T-Rex isn’t made out of that neat dual-density-feeling stuff where the outer layer of silicone has some give to it. Instead the T-Rex is completely solid, and what’s more, it’s straight, not curved in any way. Make no mistake, the quality of the silicone meets the standard that I’ve come to expect from Tantus – high-quality, flawless, and it feels great to touch. It’s not a quality issue, it’s entirely an issue with the design conflicting with my anatomy.

            I knew the T-Rex had mixed reviews for vaginal use, but Ninja Sexology seemed to like it well enough, and Ruffled Sheets gave it a great review for anal use! I still wanted to try it vaginally for myself. That ridge in the head looked like it was going to be amazing. Oh Past Sugarcunt, if you only knew what you were asking for. While I love the way the T-Rex looks, the scraping was just unpleasant. It was all I could think about while I was using it, and that’s absolutely the last thing I want to be focused on when I’m trying to get off.

            Ultimately I think that the dealbreaker was the combination of the hard silicone, the girth, the lack of a curve, and that huge ridge in the head. As individual elements I know that these things can be enjoyable, but I don’t think that this particular combination is for me. Now the question of, “Can I really brave the T-rex?” is answered. I can. I just choose not to do it anymore.

            Thank you, Tantus, for providing me with the T-Rex in exchange for an honest review! If you’re looking to brave the T-Rex yourself, you can get it on Tantus’ website at a 30% discount during the Big Ass Sale! Just use the code HEEHAW at the checkout page before June 18th!

              I Know What Boys Like

              Gang, I’m so fucking sick of hearing about what men want.

              Video not particularly related.

              Seriously, every time I look at media aimed at women it tells them two things: impress men and look pretty (presumably to impress the men that they missed the first go around). Don’t believe me? Have a look at all these magazine covers. Take your time. I’ll wait.

              If you’ve found the common thread you win a cookie.

              I’m not even going to begin to scratch the surface of all the problematic shit on these magazine covers. (Gender binary, fat blasting, “Could Your Man Be Gay?” Uh, fuck off?) All I’m here to say is that I’m sick of the assumption that a woman’s life revolves entirely around a man, and I’m sick of it for a couple reasons:

              1. To all of my nonbinary fam and female-identified queer and lesbian sisters – I see you. I know you’re being erased by this cissexist heteronormative bullshit. Erasure sucks, and it’s super damn annoying to pick up a Cosmo for some fashion tips and to have to bypass a quarter of the magazine because it’s telling you how to appeal to the male hivemind.
              2. Even people who are into men have more to our lives than men.

              In retrospect how many times in my life, even when I was convinced that I was a hosebeast doomed to die alone, did I sit around wondering what men wanted and how I could make myself more appealing to them? Honestly?  Not nearly as many as most of you would expect.

              Maybe this is because I have never viewed men as unattainable aliens from the planet Boner who use 1,052 different inflections of the word “bro” to communicate in lieu of the English language. Maybe it’s because I grew up with so many male friends that their minds were never particularly mysterious to me because they were constantly telling me what they were thinking. Maybe it’s because I have spent a lot of time feeling like a man, or wishing that I was a man rather than wishing that I had a man.

              So you’re sitting here going, “Well you’re married to a man, you’ve got it all figured out, it’s not relevant to you.” I am married, but I have nothing figured out and I am, presumably, still a relevant demographic to Cosmopolitan. And you know what? I am more concerned about what appeals to my cat than I am concerned about what appeals to men. Even if the “male mind” were completely different from the “female mind” I simply would not give two shits about what was inside it. 

              So sure, maybe it’s because men aren’t mysterious to me… or maybe it’s because I have always known that am not the problem that needs to change.

              Smile followed me!

              “Smile because men like positive girls.”
              Let me get right on that.

              Woe to the unsuspecting person that tells me to do something because men like it. And apparently they want it both ways! If I’m not smiling, strange (inevitably cis) men on the street tell me to smile, and then when I’m holding their severed testes in my hand and grinning manically they keep yelling for me to stop smiling. Make up your minds, gents.

              The female-identified and female-perceived do not need the guidance of men to be attractive. Women don’t need men to tell them what “sexy” is. The female-identified and female-perceived do not exist for your gaze. Women don’t need to change who they are to be more palatable to men. I don’t need to appeal to a demographic of people to own my sexuality, and this just in: neither do you, so stop thinking you do.

              You are hot, handsome, beautiful, gorgeous, sexy, powerful, whatever you want to be, and you just are that way. You are that way because of what you do, who you are, and who you want to be. Don’t spend your life trying to please someone else or change your body and mind to become more attractive to the masses.

              Women: stop giving a fuck about what men think of you.

              Why is there this overarching assumption that women must aspire to be in a relationship (with a man) and it should be of the utmost focus?

              Do you know what many women I know are dealing with right now? They’ve finished finals and they’re walking the stage at their college graduations. They’re on month 14 of a frenzied job hunt. They’re nursing their newborns. They’re finding child care for the summer. They’re closing deals and signing contracts. They’re making pitches and presentations. They’re writing novels, essays, articles, blogs, and letters to the editor. They’re programming apps. They’re making pottery. They’re welding pipes. They’re saving lives. They’re nurturing their friendships. They’re binge-watching Orange is the New Black in preparation for season three.

              They aren’t doing these things because they care about what men want, and I think it’s time for the world to recognize that. Everyone has a life outside of their relationships, and more importantly: women have lives outside of what men want!

              "I don't give a fuck about what men think! Neither should you. Because we don't need to have sexy defined for us."

              P.S. As much shit as I gave Glamour for the Jake incident, Google image searches reveal that they’re actually not nearly as bad about this as other magazines aimed at women. Good on you, Glamour.