Neck Deep

It’s hard to write when you’re neck-deep in a depressive episode. Anything, really. Even a shitting shopping list, or a note.

Your brain feels like a constant attack of sharp and noises. Everything about your body feels off, and not in a way that makes much sense. Yesterday, I spent a chunk of my late shift at work with the uncomfortable sense that I had too many teeth. Sometimes I seem to phase out, losing seconds of time by just going too deep into my own head. My surroundings seem to melt around me, until I snap back with a start.

Sharp. Jagged, loud, at once both intimidatingly, vastly huge and so tight and small it almost chokes me. Tears come frequent and terrifyingly hard – accompanied almost always by a weird, sinking feeling in the pit of my belly.

It’s been a month since my last proper post but this depressive episode has been running for a good while longer. I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for not *doing anything creative*, like a break from writing or making things suddenly nixed those things from who I am. It doesn’t, though. Laura Jane Williams’s writing, especially her new book Ice Cream For Breakfast, was partially responsible for helping me see that, along with Ruby Tandoh and Leah Pritchard’s amazing zine on mental health, Do What You Want.

Right now, I’m learning to preserve my energy, taking small steps and focussing on my day job, and taking care of my basic needs and wants. Day by day, I just see where I get and keep breathing. Forcing myself to write – for whatever non-essential reason my brain conjures up – makes me want to hate writing. I can’t stand the tortured creator myth because it seems so counter-productive to me to put your art at the front at the cost of something of yourself.

So I’m not.

I’m temporarily abandoning ship on writing fiction for submission. And I’m not going to force myself to live any experience for the sake of content on this blog (which is something I’ll tackle on another day, as this deserves a post of its own). It’s my way of taking care of that something of myself I feel like I’ve abandoned.

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so i google “can you feel your depression in your head”

because there’s no other way I can express that sense of my brain

being much like a tangle of cables.

but apparently some people report feeling a something

like a pressure or a fullness there

it’s odd, really.

but it makes sense considering how

at certain times

that tangled cables feeling consumes most of the rest of my body.

a horrid kind of bondage

with rope made of brain chemistry and a yapping little voice

repeating the same damn things over and over

until you’re almost breathless with the knowledge

of how badly your mind can turn on you.


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The Burnt

I’m burnt out.

Simple as that. There’s no point in me weighing my words or giving this post a funny little introduction. Because there ain’t nothing funny about this. Those three words can’t, to me, be spun into something they’re not.

It’s important for me to write it down as plainly as this. It’s important in times like this, when health both mental and physical are collaborating to create a giant and painful fog around me, that I write it down like this. It’s like sending myself a semaphore message though the fog – a Norman-from-Bake-Off-esque missive in written form, which I can come back to and read so I can remind myself that this is what’s going on.

It helps. Just like I use Spoon Theory to express how this feels to others, this is how I express myself to… well, ehm… myself. I am burnt out. And it’s okay to sit down and re-evaluate for a second. Take breaths. Relax shoulders. Rest and sit with self in some weird form of peace.

I’m writing this down now because in the last few days especially, I have been angry with myself for not “being more productive”. Full on, red-hot, how-dare-you-you-silly-shit rage. Which in itself is completely anti-productive as it sends you into this weird cycle of apologising to yourself for no reason as you go into overdrive trying to keep up with doing everything this anger is telling you you’re “meant” to be doing but aren’t doing. “Meant” to be doing is the key here – because your brain will start making shit up that really isn’t essential or time sensitive or something and then it’ll start shouting at you because this thing that isn’t of the essence/deadline-sensitive is something you should have already done. Twice.

I’m burnt out. Day job, tiring brain, tiring body, Weird Cycle of Shit I’m Supposedly Meant To Be Doing.

So, yeah.

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Talk About It – for World Mental Health Day


It’s World Mental Health Day. So I wanted to take this opportunity to write about mine. Talking about my depression and anxiety in an open and frank way on here has helped me immensely. Just like being open and frank about sex. This blog has always been a source of catharsis, among other things, after all.

It’s hard to verbalize my depression sometimes. That pains me. I’m meant to be good with words, not just on paper but in life as well. I like to think I’m a decent conversationalist when I get going. I can hold my own when I’m speaking in front of a crowd. But when it comes to telling people how I really feel, telling them with my actual voice and words… No. Not so much. To my detriment, because I end up internalizing everything even more.

Which throws me into a destructive spiral. What I’m internalizing in my mind has an effect on my body as well. It’s like my mind is trying to tell me to open up by making the rest of me slowly close down. Quiet little aches and pains are suddenly not so quiet (literally) or little. It has an effect on my moods, which in turn has an effect on the moods of the people around me. Which in turn makes me not someone you want to be around.

The little weevil on my shoulder. The black dog. The sneaky thought spiral. Whatever you call it, it has a way of – if not necessarily directly – making my day to day life fraught. With tension coiled tight in both body and brain. With moments where I shouldn’t be second-guessing myself but do. With silent frustration.

Writing about my depression and anxiety on this blog has kind of removed some of that frustration. But there’s always this niggling thought. Somewhere in the back of my head, the feeling that this shit doesn’t belong on my sex blog. That no-one wants to hear about my problems. Here’s the thing though – I’m finding it increasingly hard to care about that niggling thought.

The last few months have been slightly quiet on this blog because of that niggling thought. I’ve not been having much sex, nor have I been in the head space to write a lot about anything to do with it. And until now, I’ve been not okay with that. Not okay with the words not coming in the way they usually do. But right now, here and now and in this post, the words are coming regardless because I have had it with letting my depression and anxiety keeping me from my chosen way of catharsis.

This is a blog about sex, love, relationships and depression. These four big topics provide plenty of sub-topics: sex and its portrayal in mainstream film, the silly minutiae of living together, the white-hot light of fear that hits me in the chest during sexual play with my partner sometimes. This is also a blog where I have carved out a safe space for myself. And I am making this space safe again. My space for catharsis. My space for letting go in written words what I can not seem to say out loud.

Maybe, just maybe, it will help me say it out loud too.


PS – Hey. You. I see you. I hear you. I am walking on this path with you, whoever you are. I love you and I cherish you. You are never alone in this. As Jenny Lawson says in this post (and really, she’s fucking great when it comes to being frank about mental health) The ups and downs are always there for those of us with forever broken brains.  But that’s okay because you come back out.  The good is worth battling through the bad. And I will battle alongside you.

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Sex, Depression and Me


Moira Shearer In The Red ShoesA few weeks ago, I had a sobering realization: I didn’t actually remember what I was like before I started taking SSRIs. I was diagnosed with severe depression in 2009 and, along with regular visits to my psychiatrist, I was put on a few kinds of anti-depressants. This was right before I became sexually active and started masturbating, and when after a few months I stopped feeling any kind of pleasure when I was masturbating, I switched meds with the help of my psychiatrist.

I’d been doing relatively fine and even shed the two other meds I was on along the way. Since last year, I’ve been on 30 milligrams of Citalopram – and I thought I was on the right track until I realized I was so far away from the right track that I couldn’t even see it any more. Every time I mentioned something about it to the GP, I got the same exact response: “Well, it’s not like it makes it all go away in an instant.”

This summer, while visiting my mother, I demanded an appointment at the GP surgery I used to go to back home. I didn’t get my actual GP, which should have been a sign. When I tentatively brought up the thing that had been playing on my mind for some time (that I thought the Cipralexa was having an averse effect on my sex life), she managed to turn it into “Is your relationship going well? Do you not want to move back home?”

I had to resist the impulse of walking out of the surgery right then and there, despite the fact that she was in the middle of drawing blood from my arm. It would have been an unusual sight…

Two weeks ago I reached my boiling point. Anxiety attacks were now an almost daily occurrence, my brain was being eaten by paranoia and I couldn’t stop feeling tired and foggy all the freaking time. And then there was that feeling that the Cipralexa was fucking me over on the fucking front, which had only intensified since I initially thought of it. I read both JoEllen and Epiphora’s accounts of what SSRIs did to their sex life (and day-to-day life), which only fuelled my anger. I hadn’t ever had an orgasm without also having the effects of an SSRI influencing my body. I hadn’t ever experienced the pleasure of being licked by my boyfriend until I shuddered to a climax all over his face. I didn’t know if what was happening to me was still okay – and all the signs pointed to a big, neon HELLA NOPE.

That Friday, I quit cold turkey.

I’ve now been off Cipralexa for a week and three days. It’s been, at times, both brilliant and frightening. The absolute worst bits are when the withdrawal symptoms kick in – whereas before I pretty much felt numb, now there’s a fucking can-can line of emotions dancing on the stage in my brain. Pretty much immediately, I started having bouts of intensely sharp headaches. Now that, I can cope with – I’ve got chronic sinusitis so this is tiny compared with the scary stuff. The pins and needles in my hand in the middle of the night, the sharp and concentrated outbursts of anger or anxiety, the confusion when I speak, the feeling like I’m about to have the worst bout of flu in my life… that’s fucking scary.

But for every one of these there appears to be an upside. And although we haven’t been able to have full-on sex yet (due to… well, another problem), I’ve been having an absolute raving horn. A few days ago, I had my first non-SSRI orgasm and Christ, it was beautiful, messy, confusing and left me wanting more. So yeah, I had more.

I think I speak for just about everyone who’s done this when I say that I don’t exactly recommend going cold turkey. I had my reasons and, judging from how much better I’m feeling (despite the withdrawal symptoms), I can stick by those reasons. But if you feel like your GP isn’t taking you or your situation seriously, make them take you seriously. It is your life and you have every right to question your current treatment and look for a better way of going about.

As for me, I’m looking forward to discovering if this impacts my libido in a positive way. Meanwhile, I’m taking advice from JoEllen and have started to look after myself and what I eat and drink and do. And hopefully, eventually these effects will die down. Cross my fingers, knock on wood.

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The Mood Swing Insomnia Express

As you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit neglectful of my blog. Actually, replace “a bit” with “I’m currently dusting off the cobwebs and oiling bits of screws” and you’re just about there. I’ve not disappeared, so you don’t have to worry (if you were worrying in the first place). I’ve just been having a lot of trouble keeping my head together.

Aside from writing odds and sods on here, I’ve been doing work for Dork Adore (which is a wonderful website and a joy to work for) and trying to look at things to do in the future. I’ve stalled on writing short stories in favour of slightly panicking about the amount of calls for submissions that I want to do but fear I can’t. Why I wouldn’t be able to, I don’t know.

I’ve also been having terrible mood swings and a succession of bad nights. Small fortunes that I have a partner who’s also an insomniac, so he knows what goes on.

In my good moments, I’m riddled with the horn. I fall asleep (or try to do so) thinking about how badly I want his cock inside me. How I’m going to surprise him when he gets home from work by lying on the bed naked and spread open. How we’re going to fuck in every corner of the house, or how we’re going to be really dirty and fuck outside.

And in my bad moments, I keep thinking about the past eleven months and how my mind, my heart and my body have coped with all the stuff happening in my life, stuff that I can’t talk about because it hurts too much.

But I’m getting there. Slowly. I think.


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