Jan 272011
 

January man. I fucking hate January. It’s dark. It’s cold. Here in New England we’re surrounded by 8 foot heaps of snow. And all I want to do is eat carbohydrates and sleep. I definitely don’t feel like writing blog posts.

Traditionally I spend the entire month hibernating. February gets a little easier. By March I start to come back to life. And by April I’m a person again. But January, man. I fucking hate January.

So here’s a post about mood and sexuality, eh?

90% of people experience a drop in their sexual interest when they’re depressed. Lack of sexual interest is even a SYMPTOM of depression. This can be a drag both for the individual and for their partner(s), if any.

So what works? What helps?

Well medication is a strategy. SSRIs (like Prozac) are more likely to have sexual side effects (i.e., kill your sex drive) than dopamine agonists (like Wellbutrin), which sort of defeats the purpose, if you’re looking to revive your dormant sexual interest. Vitamin D and Vitamin B complex supplements may help. Blue/white light in the morning often helps. Physical activity – aerobic exercise – definitely helps, if you can find the energy or motivation to do it.

But I’m generally inclined to feel that these kinds of things miss the point.

If you’re depressed – and lots of people are, especially this time of year – and if your sex drive went south with your mood, consider this a window into non-erotic sensory experience. Sexual desire may not be immediately accessible to you, but you still live inside a body with a somatic nervous system. And that’s something to celebrate.

So look: it’s totally dark at 6pm. You’re facing 4 hours of bleakness before you can justify going to bed. You could watch TV. You could stare at the ceiling and cry. You could get drunk.

Or you could take a shower.

Yeah. Go take a shower.

Stand under the water, lean against the shower wall, close your eyes, and notice the water making contact with your skin. Notice how it slides in rivulets down your body and flows across your feet. Take a deep breath, and notice it all again. Keep noticing it. And notice that your mind will wander – and it will, that’s how brains work. When it wanders, just notice that, and then gently return your attention to the water on your living skin.

Wash your living body. Your hair. Your back. Your arms. Your hands. Wash each and every individual part, and notice the sensation, the smell of the soap, the texture of your skin – how it’s different on the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.

Notice the inside of your body too, where muscles are tense, to hold your physical weight, how your stomach or your shoulders or your jaw or your scalp is tense, to hold the psychological weight. Notice where you’re dark and shadowed inside, and notice where you’re light and glowing.

Tune in to your living, breathing body. Because here you are. And what you have, all you have, is the next breath. Nothing else is guaranteed. Just this breath.

And then this one.

And then this one.

You’re alive in a body.

Pay attention to it. Tune in.

Will it ease your mood? Maybe. Maybe not. Will it revive your sexual desire? It definitely might, but it might not.

Will it help you reconnect with life and relationships? Yes.

Will it enrich you in ways that TV, directionless grief, or alcohol can’t? Yes.

And if you want to follow it with a couple glasses of wine, a good long cry, and 3 episodes of “The Dog Whisperer,” well I’m hardly the one to cast stones.

Emily Nagoski

  10 Responses to “two weeks – or depression as pink viagra”

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  1. Yeah, those piles of snow. Today was the fourth snow day for my daughter in two weeks, and I think the fifth in three weeks. I don’t mind winter, I just get tired of clearing snow all the time.

    After snowblowing and shoveling for a couple hours, I got in the shower and actually did what you described (hours before you posted this), felt how the water was hitting me and running off, and let the stress melt away. I’m never in the moment like that, so it was strange but nice. I need to do more of it, we all do.

  2. I feel your sense of frustration. Out here in CA the sun was out, temp in the low 60 degrees, still. I sat in a plastic chair waiting for my friend to get off the phone. I hoped he talked for an hour more as I felt the sun exploring every pore and surface of my face. It was like we were one. Trees are bare of leaves and a few brave birds expended their precious energy exploring for changes in their winter world. I can’t imagine snow. Yuck. Hope you find a nice hot sexy experience to warm your world. Keep up the blogs. We need to hear about our needs a confusions and your insights. Ciao, bella.

  3. Me too depressed in January. We have had bushels of snow and a big flood coming up.

    But mainly I am writing to say how much I enjoy this blog. I’d add some more flattery, but I see I need another nap.

  4. oh my gosh. This is a pet topic of mine lately. I’m overcoming depression, only recently having a big breakthrough with Wellbutrin. What I found absolutely, completely, irrevocably depressing was the message I heard from every part that I needed to heal myself before I should think about sex or even affection. What? I’m sorry, but depressed people have lives too, and I don’t want to stop mine. Therapists dismissed me when I suggested that I wanted to avoid mood-killing drugs. Luckily I finally had success with a sex-positive drug, and didn’t need to change my wonderful relationship in order to heal

    • Yeah some doctors don’t understand that sexuality is an integral part of being human – and indeed an integral part of mood regulation for a lot of people. Wellbutrin (or any of the dopamine agonists) are exceptional for preserving sexuality – and, just for everyone’s info, that class of drugs is apparently particularly helpful for people with a family history of addiction.

  5. Yes! New post <3

  6. A truly great way to overcome January seasonal blues, as well as a great way to re-activate one’s libido, is to go partner dancing. Not necessarily formal ballroom dancing (for me, the formality of it is a libido killer right there). But Latin dancing, swing dancing, and especially down-and-dirty blues dancing (which is sort of appropriate, dontcha think? ;).

    It has the physiological effects of aerobic exercise without explicitly being exercise, and the relationship effects of holding a person of one’s favourite predilection in your arms (in larger centres, and especially where there are university campuses, there are often LGBTQ-welcoming dance venues).

    And, it has one other interesting side-effect: regardless of a person’s physical appearance or age, when you’re in the midst of hot partner dancing, EVERY partner you hold close becomes gorgeous and sexy.

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