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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To Drug… or Not to Drug…

Ominous, I know. ;P But seriously, that’s the choice I faced recently… and against all my ‘better’ judgments, I decided to try drugs. Sertraline to be specific… though you’re likely to recognize it more by its ‘Street Name’, Zoloft. I’ve talked before about my personal struggles with depression, and the form it takes for me. I don’t get into it too often, as the story never gets any more interesting than that. It’s no fun, it makes life difficult when there’s no other obstacles, and I’ve dealt with it for as long as I can rightly remember. So recently I made a commitment to really do something about it. Now without a lot of money, and really… no time to commit to therapy, that was off the table (Not that I truly believe in the potential for therapy in my situation considering all the avenues I’ve already taken. Who knows… if this is unsuccessful maybe I’ll revisit it in future as I know quite a few people who have benefited from it, but for various reasons it’s a no go for now). So that left drugs.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ll know that due to my childhood asthma, I illogically grew to loathe the use medication. The short story goes that since I couldn’t even run across a room without wearing myself out and risking an asthma attack (Thus the need to carry two separate inhalers 24/7), I formed a negative association with my inhalers. I know… they provided me the opportunity not to die… I should have loved them. Hey, I’m not defending kid me’s logic, I’m just telling it like it happened. ;P In any account, that irrational distaste led to an adult that doesn’t use medication unless he has to, which is far less often than you’d think. >.>

So back to my depression. It was hard for me to even acknowledge that it existed (Due in part I’m sure to the social negative stigma towards mental difficulties of any kind), and harder still to accept that it wasn’t something I could just will away… as much as I’d tried. Heck, I’d even read up on all forms of self help, therapy studies, etc. (I would sleep through Psych 101 at this point. ;P) and have tried the lot of them. Positive Manifestations, Exercise, Directed Thinking and Breathing… and so on. None of it worked. Sure, there were moments where I felt ‘better’… but there were always moments I felt ‘better’. That’s a far cry from feeling ‘good’ though (Or really… feeling anything most of the time), and during my low points… it’s hard to get anything done that doesn’t have to be done (And sometimes, even the things that have to be done get put off)… So something needed to change.

So here we are. I’ve made a decision not to let this define me, and though in the past I would have said taking medication is doing just that, I’m coming to realize that by doing so (Or at least trying it… there’s no guaranteed success here, and I may still be working from square the first), I’m giving myself what I hope is the best opportunity to succeed in that. Only time will tell. And hey, even if it doesn’t work… it can’t be said that I’m not trying everything. I’ll be trying as time goes on to document this period (And we all know how well that tends to go ;P) for reference… we’ll see.