Sexual Side Effects

Okay, so if the title wasn’t clue enough, let me spell it out here. I’m going to be talking about sex, and how it fits into my life with the new medication. Which of course will require discussing how it fit in my life before. Not in a titillating way, but I’m not one to play coy language games and beat around the bush for the sake of sensitive sensibilities either. So if either the topics, or the combination of topics bothers or upsets you in any way, I’d suggest bailing right now. Like don’t even finish this paragraph, just leave. Cause while I’m more than happy to expand upon anything I’ve written here… If even after I’ve spent like… 100+ words warding you off, you read this and get cranky… I’m just going to mock you for it. Heads up. ;P Mostly, I’m writing this in part to vent some of my frustrations through a “Creative” outlet, and in part to try and provide insight into what “Sexual Side Effects” may actually look like when brought up as a side effect. A lot of times I’ve seen folks assume (For Men obviously, as that is the only perspective I can offer) that it means it’s harder to become aroused, and as a result, erect. But while that may be the case in some instances, that is not what I’ve experienced.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get to the subject in hand… well err… maybe at hand… *ahem*… it’s far too early in this for easy sex jokes. More seriously, to begin the contextualization, I’ll start out by stating that I’ve always had a rather healthy sexual appetite. That said, I’ve not had too much opportunity to discuss the subject of sex with most folks in my life (Puritan societal influence baked into our culture and all), nor have I gone out of my way to hide from it or avoid talking about it when the subject does come up either. Despite that, I hold the view that a more comfortable relationship with sex (And the conversations therein), would do our society wonders. Cause our current fetishization of the human body leads to all kinds of bizarre social behaviors (Folks freaking out about breast feeding in public, awkwardness when personal care tasks become necessary in a social situation, concerns about multi-gendered restrooms, etc.) due to folks not having a clear idea where the line between the body, and “The Sex” lies. You get questions like, Is it sexual if I see a woman’s breast? Is it sexual if I pass a stall where someone is using the restroom? and other ridiculousness. Not to mention that it breeds a weird kind of pseudo eroticism as advertisers and etc. try and play with this fetishism, because there are an incredible number of people out there for whom all their sexual experience is shaped by a few hours at school (Maybe… depending on where / when they grew up) and the media. And goodness forbid they ask anyone questions about any of it. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, women tend to bear the brunt of this fetishization but… I digress… all that’s a post for another day. Suffice it to say I’m very comfortable with both my desire for sex, and the conversations surrounding that desire.

Now, I’ve written before about my general world view. And having just very lightly established my thoughts about and relationship with sex, I will add that due to the limited range of stimuli I tend to… acknowledge? Sexual stimulation has always been a notably poignant experience compared to the general thrumm of life. It should come as no surprise then, that I am intimately familiar with all the sensations surrounding both my general state of arousal, and the entire series of elevations leading up to a potential climax. Whether alone or with a partner, I’ve come to (With extensive practice) know at precisely what level of sensation my arousal process shifts through the stages of pleasure. I contextualize this specifically because with this medication (And the medication I was on some time in the past before the stuff that caused last month’s shenanigans), the last few tiers of elevation are simply cut off. It’s as if the arousal process is muted, and the climax (If there is one), not only occurs at a perceived lower level, but is also Far less elevated itself. So even at climax, the entire experience results in less pleasure than simply moving up the stages of arousal provided before.

So what does this mean in practice? It means that while my actual desire to engage in sexual activity has not been muted even a little, the result of acting upon that desire is not only less satisfying, but also more difficult, and in whole, more frustrating that simply not acting upon it was before. Meaning an aspect of my life that had always provided both enjoyment, and measurable pleasure, has now been brought down to the same general buzz that the rest of my life hides beneath. Sure, it’s not the end of the world. And theoretically the medicine might at some point raise the level of that buzz overall… But for now, it is just one more streetlight burned out on the sidewalk of my life, and it was already hard enough to see the road ahead.

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Less ‘Blue’

So yesterday was an interesting experiment. I wasn’t sure if I ‘Should’ write what I did, but it ended up being both cathartic, and allowed me the chance to step back and look at my thoughts from an outside perspective once more. Granted, I’ve already done that countless times in the past, but I enjoyed not only writing it, but this time, sharing it. Also, I realized that while ‘Exposing’ myself so openly ‘feels’ like I’ve revealed myself to the world, being less ridiculous I realize that very few people ever actually see what I write, so it’s less ‘to the world’, and more ‘to my mom’.. and maybe a few other people here and there. ;P As I don’t have anything else ‘interesting’ to write about at the moment, allow me the time to delve back into my head for a bit as I indulge my narcissism.

 

Following the thread that I tenuously touched upon yesterday, it’s interesting to note ‘what’ stimuli tends to resonate the strongest when I’m under the influence of the emptiness that comes. Rationally, one would assume that ‘all’ stimuli resonates equally, and then I get to choose which to pursue. While of course the choice of what to pursue is certainly always mine, it’s ‘easier’ to pursue the colloquially ‘negative’ emotions… and I’m not sure if that’s an associative thing learned through the years, or if there’s some kind of actually connected psychology there. ‘Common’ study insinuates the latter, but I’m not convinced.

 

For one thing, the negative stimuli isn’t ‘spontaneous’. I still need to engage the world as I always do, and it comes as it typically does. So if there were ‘truly’ an association there, I would assume that it would come regardless of the way I interact with the world. What ‘does’ happen though, is that there is an increased awareness of the stimuli when I’m ‘down’ that isn’t there when I’m not. As if it’s suddenly ‘louder’. And conversely, the colloquially ‘positive’ emotions are ‘muted’. So while being depressed doesn’t ‘make’ one negative, for reasons I have yet to nail down, it’s ‘easier’ to be ‘negative’ while depressed.

 

An interesting series of thoughts just occurred to me. “What” ‘actually’ occurs when I’m feeling ’empty’. I’m describing it here as if certain stimuli is ‘enhanced’, while others are ‘muted’… but what if ‘everything’ is muted (And due to the mellow way I always see things, I’m not particularly aware of it), and it’s just those few things that for some reason escape that? ‘Could’ I train myself to not allow the rest to be ‘muted’? And even going along with the idea that certain stimuli is ‘enhanced’, could I then ‘learn’ to use that for all stimuli, and possibly use it while I’m not ‘down’? I’ve certainly learned to modify my reaction, in some cases quite dramatically in ‘other’ ways, so there’s certainly potential… hmmm… I ‘almost’ want to be ‘down’ for a bit so I can observe this now. ;P

 

That’s all I’ve got for the moment. I went and ‘refreshed’ myself on what’s ‘current’ on Depression, and of course did the ‘link diving’ that happens when you just wander into Wikipedia. It’s ‘possible’ that the specific issue I’m dealing with is outlined here. Of course that’s a personal observation, and it carries no medical weight, but it does note a ‘lack of emotions’ for those who suffer from this under the Pathophysiology heading… which would comfortably explain both constructs I’ve outlined. If that’s the case though, I’ve been under this since childhood. O.o! Or I could just be seeing patterns where there are none. ;P

Feeling ‘Blue’

[Warning: This post if full of whining, and rambling of a unproductive nature. ;? It Eventually breaks down into more of a “Ramble” (Pseudo Stream of Consciousness) than a “Post”, but now that I’m finally writing more, I can get these rambles out when they cross my mind. I do not pretend to have fully developed thoughts here. This is my attempt at putting into text ‘first’ how I was ‘Feeling` and then ‘second’ some of my thoughts on it, and tenuously related subjects surrounding that. I am ‘painfully’ aware of how incomplete some of this is, and how illogical, and incompatible with itself even, the majority of it is. ;? ]

Blue? That’s a Romanticized term for a state of being that is anything but. ;? Perhaps Wholly Incapable of Responding Positively to Positive Stimuli (WIoRPtPS) is ‘just’ too much of a mouthful, and we may need to invest some time into coming up with a snappier acronym… but yeah… “Blue” doesn’t quite cut it. I started thinking this up as my “Post” for the day on dA, but quickly realized that this wouldn’t fit not only in scope, but in size for that project, and so it’s getting its own “Real” for real Blog Post. Which is what this is supposed to be. (It’s also an excuse to set up “Live Writer” on my Laptop Finally. ;P) I don’t know how I ‘feel’ about writing about this in such a cavalier fashion, but I’m working on expressing myself better in my writing, so here we go.

Depression sucks. This isn’t a secret. What is a bit surprising, to me at least, is how insidious it can be in even the most externally ‘Okay’ people. I don’t know ‘where’ I fall on the outsider view, but the people close to me seem to think I’m ‘generally’ just fine, and I’ll take that as a fair assessment. The part of this that’s bothersome to me is that I wouldn’t use ‘Generally’ to describe how often I actually ‘feel’ okay. Heck, there are times when I wouldn’t use ‘Okay’ to describe how I feel at all. And in a completely illogical and detrimental fashion, I despise this about myself. Moreso when I’m feeling ‘Blue’. And of course, being who I am, I try to power through regardless, putting on a “Friendly Face” and all the while there is this dragging, all encompassing void that just sucks the theoretical joy out my day.

It’s so damn trite. That’s what kills me about it. I’m not saying anything new. I’m not fighting something ‘unique’ or ‘particularly difficult’. People deal with depression on a constant basis, and manage to operate just fine. So who am I to think that this is anything more than anyone else has to wake up to, and yet the world marches on, so of course so must I. Regardless of what I ‘Feel’. And sometimes, I question even that. Everyone that knows me has commented on how little I respond to life emotionally. My Ex used to call me a “Heartless Bastard” in an affectionate manner. I wasn’t mean, or cruel, the things people typically associate with that concept. I just didn’t resonate on an emotional level. As if I was muted to the sensations I ‘should’ have been feeling.

I don’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. I don’t ever want to engage the world. I’m not ‘afraid’ of anything, there’s nothing I ‘m trying to avoid… I just ‘don’t’ want to. It’s a fight to make myself go. I walk through the day, and if I let myself think about it, I just want to lie down and stop. I want to Eat Everything, but I’m not ever hungry. Maybe I’m deficient in some mineral, and eating it will fill the void. I want to Hit Everything. Not because I’m angry, I’m almost never angry, but maybe I’ll feel differently once I’ve got the energy out. Maybe I’ll get into a fight, and at the least not feel empty. I want to Cry, just sob chest wrenching, heart aching tears, but I almost can’t cry outside of sad movies or books. Even after watching someone die right before my eyes, it took months before I was able to make myself cry about it, and I had to work at it. I want to laugh. Not pretend to laugh because I know it’s socially appropriate, or because I know people respond better to laughter, but because I’m happy, even if just for a few moments. I’ve spent years perfecting my laugh, and no one any more comments on how fake it sounds. But what I would give to experience ‘joy’, as people have described it to me.

Again, I know I’m just rattling out the same old, same old trite exclamations of anyone who’s ever dealt with depression. It’s boring, it’s uninteresting, and there’s nothing new to learn here. And outside of the few goals I’ve yet to accomplish, I do relatively well with myself, so really there’s no reason to complain. But then I have these ‘Dark’ days (I hate the terminology used to describe depression. It’s meant to contextualize a series of sensations that are devoid of rational context… but it’s simpler to use the language we’ve got for now. ;?) and of course I obsessively pour over every one of my character flaws that impedes my success. And even looking at the things in my life that are objectively ‘good’, I see only the negative, and the ways in which these things ‘drag me down’, or keep me from my goals.

There are strategies to deal with this, for me at least. If I have too much time to think, I eat myself up, but  I’ve found that losing myself in my work allows me to forget to think about myself, which keeps me from focusing on the things that wear on me. It’s funny in a sick kind of way, but by working so much that I have no time for myself, I’m ‘Internally’ “Better”, but Externally worse for wear. Having such a pressing schedule wears on the people in my life, and keeps me from accomplishing the things  I want to accomplish,which then feeds into the depression when these things (Personal, and Professional) rear their heads. Damned if I do, Damned if I don’t. And always, just out of reach, is the surety that if I would just ‘Do It’ (The Super It, the things that would make me ‘Successful’ on the arbitrary scale the world has presented, at the cost of the elements in my life I’ve carefully cultivated to ensure I was living a “Healthier” existence.), I’d no longer have to deal with this oppressive sensation.

My “Every Day” isn’t as I’ve described it. This is me talking at my worst. My “Normal” day is just ‘Fine’. I don’t get too low, I don’t get too high, I just kind of meander through my day. I’m colourblind, and one of the ways Melissa and I ended up describing my “Baseline’” was by comparing it to my Colourblindness. To me, all the colors are of the same rough source. So at a distance it becomes difficult to distinguish colors. Comparing that to ‘Normal’ vision, it’s as if my entire world is a drab and muddied vista. Colors don’t “Pop” out at me the way they seem to people who aren’t colourblind, and I ‘Feel’ the same way emotionally. I cannot begin to fathom all encompassing rage, vibrant joy, deep and enduring love, endless sadness, or any of those other colorful descriptors beyond the context of “Fiction”. Conceptually, this is a ‘Good’ thing, as it keeps me ‘level’… but I do wonder at the “Chicken and the Egg” of it. Does ‘this’ cause my depression, or is it because of my depression that I am this way? I ‘think’ that it had to have been different when I was younger… though I know that it was in my youth that I ‘first’ started recognizing that I needed to ‘learn’ to laugh… ;?

Perhaps this is how ‘Everyone’ works. Perhaps I’m just ‘normal’, and it’s a sign of my personal weakness that I even feel the need to comment on it. I’ve tried engaging people in discussion all throughout my life to determine whether or not that was the case, and perhaps those that I engaged were the exception, but I’ve not found this to be true. ‘My’ truth is that I consider Emotions to be no different than any other stimuli, and like you learn from the heat of a burner to keep your hands away, you learn from the ‘Sadness’ you feel when people criticize you to keep your ‘self’ away. But if that’s true, why do people constantly discuss their choices as if they’re permeated by these unbending sensations that direct their actions? What would it be like to experience a Stimuli “So Strong” that you were almost powerless to act against it… I just cannot imagine that.

I’ve read countless psychological research papers delving into the human mind from many different angles, and I constantly encounter resolutions that just don’t seem to apply to a worldview I can relate to. I recognize my faults by now, and I am aware of my positive traits. I am not deluded enough to believe that I completely understand myself, but I do recognize that I am at least reasonably self aware. With all this, it is still a struggle to align the way I view the world with the way it is constantly described to me. To me, you receive data (Accompanied by whatever emotional stimuli may be relevant), process this, and make a decision as to how you should react to it. The way I constantly hear it described, one tends to ‘experience’ an event, flare up with emotional response, and then work to both control that emotional response while trying to react to the experience. That sounds kind of awesome. ;P But maddening at the same time. If ‘that’ is the world as most people experience it, then no wonder people have so much difficulty getting through it.

I used to intentionally ‘make’ myself ‘wallow’ in an emotional stimuli for an extended period of time. They are such little things that I figured perhaps “Prolonging my Exposure” to them would allow me to experience them more naturally. This just ended up with me behaving erratically, and did absolutely nothing for my ability to experience things more ‘naturally’. Long ago I sought “Fullness” by sampling a variety of religions. You hear from people confident in their faith that there’s a ‘Wholeness’ in ‘Faith’, but I found no stronger stimuli in a church, den, circle, than I found at the grocery store, or in my bathroom. I don’t know what I’m ‘missing’, and I don’t know where to find it either.

Then there’s the ‘funny’ exception that makes me question the ‘Reality’ of my entire worldview. The exception that lends credence to my Roommate’s occasional angry outburst that I am merely deluding myself (A viewpoint he ‘only’ shares when he’s angry at me, so I have reason to question it). Movies, Games, and Books. I can somewhat fully immerse myself in a work of Fiction like I cannot find a way to immerse myself in the world. A sad work of fiction will leave me bawling like the entire world has collapsed around me. It doesn’t even have to be a particularly ‘good’ sad work. A particularly happy/beautiful work of fiction can have a similar effect. But the oddity there is, it’s ‘only’ in the confine of the work of fiction. Somehow, the stories have the power to elicit the extremes of my stimuli… And I have ‘yet’ to figure out why.

A working theory that was presented to me is that perhaps I’m not ‘actually’ very ‘light’ in my emotional responses. Perhaps I actually experience things “Far Too Strongly”, and I’ve taught myself to clamp down on my responses, and it’s in a “Work of Fiction” that I feel ‘Safe’ enough to loosen the reins. If that’s truly the case, then why can I not ‘Make’ myself loosen up at other times, even with conscious effort. Another theory, is that I ‘force’ myself to over evaluate everything (Long since passed into habit, but originally personally motivated), and that when presented with an incomplete picture, an ‘unrealistic’ story, I turn that off, an ‘allow’ myself to respond more ‘naturally’. I just don’t know.

There’s a peek into my head. This writing began from a low point, and finished up during my baseline. I’m not sure what benefit it is for me to post this. Perhaps it may alienate people, or cause alarm where there is no reason for alarm. This is not a “Cry for Help”, I am not looking for answers by posting this (Though I ‘love’ discussion, so I’m certainly open to talking about some of what I’ve written, or really ‘anything’). A side effect of my constant self evaluation and delving into the thought processes of others is that I’m particularly good at ‘listening’ when others wish to share their personal strife (As I do not ‘judge’. It’s fruitless, and only serves to obfuscate whatever is being shared), and if I’m not being misled, I actually give good advice. So here are my words, and I welcome yours.