Ten Lessons from One Year of Sex Blogging

I started my blog late in the evening on 31 December 2016. Can you believe I’ve been at this game for a whole year already? Time flies when you’re having fun, banging various sexy people, and accumulating a collection of sex toys bigger than you reasonably have storage space for.

A white mug from Girl on the Net with the text "No-One Does Whar You Do Quite Like You." For a post about things I've learned in a year of blogging.

And oh what a year it’s been! This little side project – and the community I’ve met as a result – has changed my life, and changed me, in deep and fundamental ways. I’m a better person, and a better writer, than I was a year ago thanks to this little adventure. I’ve placed in the top 100 sex bloggers, won a Newcomer Award, and been paid for my work. I’ve worked with great companies like Hot Octopuss and Lovehoney. And I’ve met some of the most awesome people I’ve ever had the privilege to know.

So, in the spirit of reflecting on the past year – it is New Year’s Eve, after all! – I wanted to share with you ten lessons I’ve taken away from this first year.

1. I can experience pleasure and orgasm in ways I never imagined.

I hardly ever bought sex toys before I started this little adventure and started getting sent things to review. They’re pretty expensive and my vulva is fussy – it knew what it liked (this baby, mainly) and though I was curious about other toys, I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend upwards of £50-100 on things that may or may not work for me.

Well, I’ve now tried oscillating toys, suction toys, dual-stimulation toys, ride-on toys, great vibrators, terrible vibrators, mediocre vibrators, dildos in interesting materials, and even sex toys shaped like penguins. And if you’ll pardon the pun, FUCK ME it turns out my experience of pleasure is diverse. Not only can I get off in all these different ways, but each gives me a subtly (or sometimes wildly) different variety of orgasm.

Bodies are cool, y’all.

2. Sex writers are the best community.

I cannot overstate the extent to which the sex writing community has changed my life for the better. At events like Eroticon, Lube & a Laptop, and even the recent sex blogger Christmas party, I feel profoundly seen, deeply understood, and radically accepted in a way that I have never quite encountered anywhere else.

This community is so open, so generous with time and support and knowledge and friendship and a helping hand up, that I want to cry with joy every time I think about it. You, reading this? Yes, you. I love you.

3. I have the power to take my ideas and make them real.

This whole “sex blog” thing was just a bit of a side project a year ago; a bit of fun that I thought would keep me busy during a difficult transitional period and maybe entertain a handful of people. Now, though? Now it’s so much more. It’s my genuine passion project AND a source of additional income.

That didn’t happen by accident. That happened because I had an idea and ran with it. It happened because I put in the hours (and hours and hours) at the computer screen, tap-tap-tapping away; because I invested what I could, money-and-time-wise, into things like going to Eroticon; because people like Girl on the Net, Kayla, Molly and Michael, and Sarah generously shared their wisdom and I was smart enough to shut up and listen and learn from them; frankly, because I worked my ass off for it. I still do every day.

You can, too.  You just need an idea, some determination, and the willingness to put in the hard work to see it through.

4. Sometimes, the best way to get what you want is just to ask.

Sending off my first pitch was so scary that I needed to celebrate a little bit having done so. Actually getting it accepted? Well, that was something I’d never imagined! That first time someone believed in my work enough to pay me for it, even a little, was like a shot of pure confidence straight to my anxiety-riddled brain. But I never would have got it if I hadn’t faced down my fears and just asked.

Writing to Hot Octopuss a couple months ago on a whim, going “hey we’ve got some common interests here want to sponsor a post?” felt ridiculous. Presumptuous. Why would a big and successful company want to work with a nobody like me? But they said yes. They liked my idea and they paid me for it and I’ve worked with them again since!

These little victories would never have come my way if I hadn’t bitten the bullet and just asked the damn question.

5. Rejection can tear you down, or it can propel you forward.

Rejection happens in any creative industry. It’s just a fact of life. I’ve been rejected plenty of times, both as a sex writer and in my vanilla writing life. My first novel probably got rejected 30 times before I decided to e-publish. I got rejected from an OxBridge Masters programme at the final interview stage. I’ve spent days, weeks, crafting a perfect contest entry and not placed. I’ve sent pitches off and never heard back.

What I learned this year, though, is how to channel rejection into determination and forward momentum. I’ve honed my pitching style and my approaches. I’ve looked again at a rejected piece with fresh eyes and revamped it. And I’ve taught myself how to view all experience, even rejections, as valuable and as opportunities for growth. All writing experience is good writing experience.

6. Whatever weirdnesses I have, I’m definitely not alone.

Whatever bizarre fetish or kink I might be into, someone else is into it too.

When I think I’m the only person in the world whose body responds to a certain stimulus in a certain way, someone will go “me too!”

When I’m struggling with an emotion or a fear or a trip into the darkest depths of my psyche, sometimes what keeps me going is just knowing that someone else sees me, that they understand what I’m going through, and that they came out the other side – and I will too.

7. I have workaholic tendencies.

Okay, so I had a hunch about this one already, but it’s become apparent to me in the last year just how true it is. When I’m really into something, I am in real danger of becoming completely consumed by it.

In October, writing every single day for my Kink Month challenge was stressful and thrilling in equal measure. Since then, I’ve forced myself to take half a step back to recharge as my day job workload explodes over the festive period, but I still feel twinges of guilt if I go more than three or four days without blogging.

This passion and the way it eats at me until I sit down and do the work is a blessing, in large part, and occasionally a curse too. Sometimes the best thing my loved ones can do for me is give me space to work, and sometimes the best thing they can do is force me to take a break, eat some snacks and watch a terrible movie with them. Often, though, I need to take a good look at how I’m really doing in order to communicate which of these things I need.

8. People HATE being told the truth.

Whether it’s that their jelly dildo is riddled with toxic gunk, that shoving 2lb of marbles up their ass is a really bad idea, or that their favourite toy company hired a known abuser as a spokesperson, people really cannot deal with facts and information if it conflicts with their view of The Way Things Are. What’s more, sometimes these people will come at you with name-calling, personal attacks and even threats of physical violence when you speak the truth.

Block early, block often, my friends.

9. How not to take shit from companies.

I don’t work for other people/companies for free, unless:

1) You’re a charity I really, deeply believe in, OR
2) You’re a personal friend and I’m either doing you a favour or we’re doing some kind of work exchange.

Even so, the number of companies who have approached me wanting me to write for them for nothing – or “for the exposure!!!” – is fast approaching levels of bullshit I never knew existed. Add this to seriously shady requests like “talk up our product but don’t let on to your readers that we sponsored you for this,” and I’m left shaking my head at the audacity of some people. This year, I’ve learned to value my work properly and not accept flattery or “exposure” as forms of currency. I’ve learned to stand up for my worth, to hold firm with my boundaries, to put my foot down, so say “no”.

You love what I do and REALLY REALLY want to bring my voice to your readers? Perfect. I’m flattered. Now pay me.

10. No-one Does What I Do Quite Like Me

I’m just gonna finish off with this gem of wisdom from Girl on the Net, a phrase which adorns the mug (pictured) that I drink my coffee from every morning. Because it’s true.

Happy new year, you beautiful lot. Here’s to 2018.

Image by me.

[Toy Review] The Queen Bee by Hot Octopuss

It’s here! The Marmite of sex toys (probably only Brits will get that reference, sorry everyone else) is in my possession and…

…| am coming down very firmly in the “love” camp.

The Queen Bee by Hot Octopuss, a grey oscillating sex toy that is shaped like a hairbrush.

I’ve been wanting the Queen Bee, from Hot Octopuss (who I love!), ever since I saw the prototype last Eroticon. H.O. listened to their consumers and created a toy for vulvas using the same “PulsePlate” technology as their revolutionary Pulse toys for penis-owners.

In their words: “Unlike conventional sex toys, the Queen Bee uses a ‘piston’-type mechanism in order to generate extremely deep and rumbly oscillations.” Basically, it oscillates rather than vibrates.

Now, I am a lover of broad clitoral stimulation – pinpoint does it for me sometimes, but I have to be careful with this as it can cross into being painful really quickly. Toys with big heads that stimulate the whole clitoris and vulva are really where it’s at for me. There’s a reason the original Doxy is my favourite thing in the world, folks.

My experience with the Queen Bee each time I’ve used it was one of a slow-build orgasm. This isn’t a “get me off in 2 minutes from cold so I can sleep” toy, but more of a “luxurious, long, slow session that ends with an orgasm so explosive my partner can hear it from the other end of the house” toy. I love it. It’s staying in the little pile of toys I reach for regularly.

My Ratings (all scores out of 5★)

Price: ★★★
The Queen Bee retails for £119 from Hot Octopuss directly. This puts it in the higher price bracket but not off the scale for a high-quality toy. Don’t forget you can use my exclusive code, CK10, for 10% off before the end of December!

Materials: ★★★★
The naterial is TPE, which I will admit put me off initially as this tends to be a porous material (though it contains no phthalates or other nasties and is therefore technically non-toxic). However, Hot Octopuss uses medical-grade, non-porous TPE that can be thoroughly sanitised. When I asked my contact about this, they provided a handy info-sheet which is really thorough and reassuring. This transparency, combined with Dangerous Lilly’s endorsement, gives me full confidence to say that this toy is made of a body-safe material.

It doesn’t have quite the gorgeous sensual smoothness of silicone – it’s firm, though less harsh than hard plastic. The material is unfortunately a little grabby, so a spot of water-based lube really enhances the experience. (Then again, when DOESN’T lube make something better?)

Appearance: ★★★★
IT’S NOT PINK, Y’ALL. It doesn’t even come in pink, or in any kind of pastel or “girly” (ugh) shade at all. It’s a dark steely grey and looks a bit like a hairbrush. It’s not a beautiful or even a pretty toy, but weirdly I enjoy this about it.  I like something that’s purple and sparkly as much as the next femme, but the whole look of this toy just screams “I MEAN BUSINESS, I AM NOT HERE TO BE DECORATIVE” and frankly I am here for that.

Ease of Use: ★★★★
Opinions in the blogosphere vary over this one, but I find the Queen Bee reasonably easy and intuitive to use. It was 4 buttons in a line: On/Off, pattern change, speed up and speed down. They’re easy to press and I found it easy to change the setting mid-wank without breaking my flow. What I really liked about using the Queen Bee is that I didn’t have to press it as hard against my vulva as I do with a wand or other vibrator – in fact, the sensation was much stronger and more satisfying when I held it lightly against myself.

Ease of care & cleaning: ★★★
The Queen Bee is fully waterproof, making it easy to clean with hot water for thorough sanitising. You can also clean it with a body-safe alcohol wipe (I buy mine in bulk from medical suppliers.) It does have a HUUUGE seam where the oscillating plate joins the rest of the toy. Fluids and bacteria could easily get trapped here, so be extra thorough around this area when cleaning it. For this reason, I’d hesitate to share it without a barrier in a non fluid-bonded relationship. You could use it through a dam or other barrier, but I’m not sure how much that would impact the feeling of the oscillations.

Versatility: ★★★★
The Queen Bee has six different settings – constant and five different patterns – as well as multiple speed options to choose from. I found even the lower speeds quite rumbly and satisfying, though it did take the top speed to get me off. The Queen Bee is also waterproof, if taking your toys in the bath or shower with you is your thing. It’s advertised as having a “gentle warm up massage” sensation if you use the back (opposite the PulsePlate) but this was too weak to do much of anything for me. Those with less Power Queen tendencies than me may enjoy it, though.

As it looks like a hairbrush, I kind of want to use it as a spanking tool, but I don’t recommend actually trying this as it might damage the oscillating mechanism.

Intensity:
★★★★
It’s difficult to compare the Queen Bee, an oscillating toy, against a conventional vibrator, so I am going to resist doing so. Let’s just say it’s pleasingly rumbly on the lowest settings and pretty intense on the higher ones! Again, it’s definitely a slow-build toy for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed using it.

Overall Score: ★★★★
Definitely won’t do it for everyone. If you like pinpoint stim exclusively, this isn’t the toy for you. But if you like broad, rumbly sensations and are looking for something a bit different to classic vibrations, give the Queen Bee a try!

One final thing of note: MY GOD this thing is loud! Now I don’t really mind about toys being loud, because I live with my intimate partner and have no housemates, kids or family at home. But if you live with other people and need a discreet toy, this is not it.

Thank you to my friends at Hot Octopuss for sending me the Queen Bee in exchange for an honest review. The Queen Bee is available directly from Hot Octopuss, as well as Lovehoney and SheVibe. This post contains affiliate links. Image is property of Hot Octopuss and reproduced here with their permission.

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

It’s that time of year, folks! Whatever you’re celebrating this winter, it’s likely you’ll have cause to give gifts to your loved one(s.) For your romantic or sexual partners (or friends with whom you have that kind of relationship) why not give them a sexy gift they’ll really love?

And, of course, don’t forget that YOU are someone you love! Whether you’re partnered this festive season or not, why not treat yourself to something special too?

To give you plenty of time to get your sexy shopping in, here’s my specially curated gift guide for 2017.

A couple of quick notes:

1: I have deliberately avoided gendered language in this post. I talk about vulva-owners and penis-owners because people of all genders can have all kinds of genitals and too many of us feel alienated by aggressively gendered toy marketing.

2: Links here are affiliate links unless otherwise stated. If you buy from an affiliate using my links, I will make a small commission which helps me to keep doing this work. As always, I only partner with companies I trust and I promise to NEVER recommend an unsafe product, or one I’m uncertain as to the safety of.

DISCOUNT JUST FOR ‘COFFEE & KINK’ READERS! Get 15% off EVERY gift guide item available at Lovehoney when you use the links in this post. Prices listed here DO NOT include the discount.

Top Picks: Vibrators
The Doxy Original, a purple wand style vibrator with a grey head, held on an upturned palm.

 

The Queen of vibrators and one of my favourite things in the whole world, the super-powerful Doxy Massager will always be top of my list. My Doxy is the only toy that always lives next to my bed, and it remains the best gift a lover has ever given me. £89.99 from Lovehoney.

The Doxy Die Cast, a deep purple wand vibrator with a large black silicone head.

 

 

If you love the Doxy, there’s also the newer, smaller-but-heavier Die Cast version,  with a beautiful aluminium and titanium body and body-safe silicone head. £149.99 from Lovehoney.

 

 

The We-Vibe Tango, a small blue bullet vibrator. For a review post.
Small but mighty, the We-Vibe Tango was one of my favourite discoveries this year. Discreet, small, easy to use and POWERFUL AS ALL FUCK, this one’s a sure winner for the power queens out there – and anyone who likes their vibes portable. Unlike many pocket-sized vibes, it’s also really rumbly. Check out my review. £54.99 from Lovehoney.

The Rocks Off Bamboo, a small lipstick shaped rose gold vibrator.

For those on a budget, the Bamboo vibrator by Rocks Off is my favourite low-priced vibe discovery this year. Body-safe, pretty, quiet and powerful-ish, this is a really solid little toy for the price. £16.99 on Lovehoney.

Top Picks: Dildos

The Idee du Desir Orchid 1001 Nights dildo for a review post. Pictured with an orchid flower.
The Idee du Desir Orchid 1001 Nights dildo is a really beautiful luxury wooden dildo that I completely fell in love with this year. With its subtle gold shimmer, it’s the height of classiness, and those gentle ridges feel divine. €90 from Idee du Desir (not an affilitate)


A line of Effulgence Ambit silicone dildos in a range of shimmery colours.I discovered Godemiche this year at Eroticon and I am in love with their beautiful, unique silicone toys – each one is hand poured and they come in all kinds of beautiful colours. The Effulgence Ambit range, pictured, is my favourite because GLITTER. £35-47 from Godemiche (not an affiliate.)

The Tantus Vamp Super Soft, a midnight purple dildo with a realistic head and flared base.

Tantus make beautiful silicone dildos that feel absolutely divine. My favourite is the Vamp Super Soft (in midnight purple, obviously!) With a flared base, it’s perfect for vaginal or anal use and can even be paired with your favourite harness for the ultimate strap-on experience. $69.99 from Tantus Inc.

 

A curved glass g-spot dildo from Lovehoney

 

Glass dildos have long been a love of mine. I like to insert them and then juuuust barely wiggle them against my G-spot. They’re so rigid that even this slight movement provides a world of blissful sensation. Try the curved sensual G-spot glass dildo from Lovehoney, £24.99.

Something A Bit Different

The Zumio, a purple sex toy with a small plastic tip. Shaped a bit like a toothbrush.
There’s been a lot of buzz (sorry) about the Zumio this year. I hate the claim that it is guaranteed to give any woman an orgasm in 60 seconds or less because BODIES DO NOT ALL WORK THAT WAY, but the product itself is genuinely innovative and has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. For lovers of direct, pinpoint clitoral stimulation, this is the one. £134.99 from Lovehoney.

 

The Eroscillator, a purple sex toy that looks a bit like a toothbrush. Pictured with 6 attachments.I was lucky enough to try the Eroscillator as a friend’s place recently. (Yes, I have excellent friends.) Despite looking like what Kate Sloan describes as a “steampunk toothbrush” (yes) it’s amaaaazing. Because it oscillates rather than vibrates, it somewhat mimics the sensation of fingering, only faster. It also comes with six (count them!) attachments. Perfect for lovers of the kind of clit stim that brings you to a deliciously slow-build orgasm. £199.99 from Lovehoney.

 

I just got my paws on this cutie for a review and it’s brilliant! The straps hold it against the vulva for hands-free use and it’s operated with remote control, making it super ergonomic to use solo AND suitable for delicious partnered play. Try wearing it and giving your lover the remote to take control of! It has 8 patterns and 12 speeds. £74.99 from Lovehoney.

 

The Satisfyer Pro Penguin Next Generation, a suction based sex toy that looks like a little penguin wearing a pink bow-tie. For a review post.

Suction based toys are all the rage right now and my favourite is the Satisfyer Pro Penguin Next Generation, which I reviewed recently. Don’t let the cuteness put you off – aside from literally looking like a little penguin in a bow tie (because obviously!), this baby gives me orgasms so powerful my partner can hear them from the other end of the house. £69.99 from Lovehoney.

Favourites for Couples

The We-Vibe sync, a wearable purple C-shaped vibrator. Pictured with the remote control and a mobile phone.

We-Vibe created the original wearable vibrator for couples, and the Sync is the newer and improved version of their classic. Worn during intercourse, the internal piece stimulates the penis and G-spot, while the outer arm stimulates the clitoris. It’s remote controlled, so no worries if you want to adjust the speed while you’re wearing it, and the app functions make your experience super customisable. £159.99 from Lovehoney.

 

A black strap on aet with silicone dildo and another smaller dildo pictured to the side. From Lovehoney. I love strap-on play, especially pegging (where a vulva-owner penetrates a penis-owner anally with a strap-on.) This set is great value. I love it because the harness is really adjustable to fit a wide range of bodies, and you can use it with any dildo with a decent base. I like using the 5 inch slimline dildo it comes with for pegging, and swapping out for the bigger size or my Tantus if fucking another person with a vagina. £44.99 from Lovehoney.

 

The Feeldoe, a purple double ended v-shaped vibrating dildo.

The Feeldoe has become a classic for good reason. The shorter end is inserted into the vagina of the giving partner, and they use the longer end to fuck the receiving partner. Somewhat more advanced than a basic strap on, but with the huge added bonus of direct internal stimulation for the fucker. Plus, it’s made from lovely body-safe silicone and even has an inbuilt vibrating bullet. From $124.99 from Tantus.

 

Top Picks for Dicks

Note: this section is somewhat out of my area of expertise. These recommendations come from extensive reading of reviews and help from some of the wonderful dick-owners in my life!

 

I can’t have a section on toys for dicks without mentioning Fleshlight, the original and best-selling masturbator. Flight by Fleshlight comes highly recommended. One reader commented that he likes that it’s less obviously anatomical looking than some penis toys. £44.99 from Lovehoney.

The Pulse III Solo, a black three-quarter sleeve style toy for penises.

 

I adore Hot Octopuss. Their toys are so innovative and their #SexNotStigma campaign is brilliant. (Check out the sponsored post I wrote for them a little while ago!) Their Pulse III uses oscillating Pulse Plate technology, which is – get this – medically proven to bring about ejaculation. The Solo is designed for – unsurprisingly – solo use, while the Duo boasts a vibrating underside to stimulate a vulva during partnered play. £79.99 (Solo) or £99.99 (Duo) from Hot Octopuss, with 10% off when you use this link and code CK10.

The Tenga Black Flip Hole, a black male masturbation sleeve with buttons on the side, held in a female hand.

 

The Tenga Flip Hole masturbator boasts “multiple asymmetrical textures and buttons that enable you to manually tailor pressure anywhere along your shaft.” This is a far cry from “just stick your dick in and fuck it” penis toys, and allows for an amazing range of different sensations. Bonus: it pops open for easy and thorough cleaning. £69.99 from Lovehoney.

The Tantus C-Sling, a red silicone cock ring with a contoured tongue.

Cock rings are brilliant! They restrict flow of blood from the erect penis, giving a stronger erection and keeping the dick harder for longer. The C-Sling from Tantus works in basically the same way, with the added bonus of the contoured tip which gently stimulates the perineum during play. $34.64 from Tantus.

 

Anal Fun

The We-Vibe Ditto, a purple silicone butt plug. Pictured with the remote control and a mobile phone.

The We-Vibe Ditto is We-Vibe’s first and long-awaited anal toy. It’s relatively small – the insertable length is only about 3 inches – and uses We-Vibe’s signature powerful vibrations. It’s remote- or app-controlled and has 10 different vibration modes. The Ditto is even waterproof if you want to get your sexy on in the shower. £109.99 from Lovehoney.

 

A glass butt plug from Lovehoney.

 

Did I mention I LOVE glass toys? Well, that goes for anal toys too. Mr CK bought me this beauty from Lovehoney for my birthday and it is one of the most perfect plugs to ever go up my butt. £19.99 from Lovehoney.

 

The Rocks Off Naughty Boy, a curved reverse C-shape black prostate vibrator.

 

I love Rocks Off! Their Naughty Boy is a slimline vibrating prostate stimulator with a gentle curve to perfectly hit those sweet spots. It has 7 different functions and is powered by a removable RO80 bullet. £49.99 from Lovehoney.

 

The Aneros MGX, a white curved prostate stimulator with a curly base.

 

This one comes to the list courtesy of my friend, fellow blogger and sometimes co-creator Exhibit A, who describes it as “the other love of [my] life!” (One assumes the first love is his awesome wife Livvy!) The Aneros MGX is a plastic (body-safe!) prostate massager works with the sphincter muscles for hands-free fun, and stimulates both the prostate and perineum. £39.99 from Lovehoney.

 

Let’s Get Kinky

If you’re into impact play, how about treating yourselves to the most beautiful floggers you’ll ever own? Kabunza is a small business, headed up by designer, maker and teacher Aemilia Hawk. Not an affiliate, I just love them forever. Every creation is unique and you can even custom-order. Various prices.

A pair of silver "Clover" nipple clamps held in a female hand.

 

I’m a big fan of nipple clamps, and clover clamps are my favourites of all! They are quite pinchy and tighten when you pull on them. Not recommended for beginners to nipple play! This is the set we have, from Bondage Boutique. They’re so affordable and have lasted us two years and are still going strong. Remember… they hurt more coming off! £8.99 from Lovehoney.

A coil of violet dyed hemp rope from Twisted Monk

 

Bondage enthusiasts understand the sensual and aesthetic appeal of beautiful rope. If you love natural fibres in beautiful colours, get your hands on some of Twisted Monk’s hand-dyed hemp. The violet, pictured, is my favourite. Not an affiliate. $35.99 for 30ft from Twisted Monk.

 

Luxurious Lingerie & Foxy Fetishwear

 

The Lovehoney Moonlight Wine Crotchless Basque, a deep red one piece of lingerie, modelled by a pretty white woman with dark wavy hair.I The Lovehoney Moonlight plunge babydoll, made of red wine satin and black lace. Modelled by a pretty dark haired woman.am completely in love with Lovehoney’s brand new Moonlight range. The black lace and red-wine satin oozes sophistication. My favourite pieces, pictured, are the plunge babydoll set and the crotchless body. Perfect for cosy winter nights in with your lover. I’ve just received a review piece (look out for that!) and it makes me feel like a total babe. Every piece comes in plus sizes, too, so everybody can look and feel gorgeous. £34.99 from Lovehoney. My favourites are included in the offer, or you can check out the whole range and take advantage of 25% off when you buy any two pieces.

 

A black PVC full body catsuit, modelled by a pretty white woman with blonde hair.

 

My new favourite is this sexy catsuit from Latex, Leather & Lace. I tried one on in their new store and it was love at first meow! (Watch out for my full review, coming soon). Pair with some sexy black boots (like those below, perhaps?) and you’ll be “feline” gorgeous all night long. £64.99 from Latex, Leather & Lace.

 

 

A black leather overbust corset modelled by a dark haired white woman running her hand through her hair.

 

I adore real leather. The feel, the warmth, the smell… oh god, the smell. Mmmff. That’s why I am lusting HARD after this Lady Anne corset by Allure Leather, and I’m sure you will be, too. £160.99 from Latex, Leather & Lace.

 

 

Pleaser 1020 black high heeled lace up boots
I hate most things about winter. What I do love, though, is that it’s BOOTS SEASON! I can’t even remotely walk in heels without breaking myself, but I do enjoy wearing them to feel sexy once in a while. This winter I’m lusting after these Pleaser beauties. The high-heel wearer in your life is bound to love them too! £70.95 from Latex, Leather & Lace.

 

 

All pictures in this post are property of the respective retailers and are reproduced here with their permission.

Sex Not Stigma: Using My Sexuality to Manage My Mental Health

Content note: this post discusses mental health struggles in detail and includes slurs and a brief reference to suicide.

Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay. Thousands of brave people have spoken out about their struggles with various mental health conditions. I shared a little bit of my story on Twitter too, if you’re interested. Short version: I live with depression and anxiety.

I use a whole litany of tools to manage my mental health. I take medication, I’m working with The Best Therapist Ever, and I’ve learned to effectively regulate my physical and mental energy levels. I’ve also consistently found sex, masturbation and kink to be really useful and positive items in this toolbox.

A black and white picture of a heterosexual-read couple, sitting together with the woman's head resting on the man's shoulder in an affectionate fashion. They both have dark hair and the man has a beard and tattoos. Pixture by Hot Octopuss and given for a sponsored post about Mental Health Week.

#SexNotStigma

It is ridiculous to me that today, in twenty-freaking-seventeen, that there is STILL such stigma around both mental illness and sex. They are two of the great taboos that plague our society.

As a woman, admitting that you like to have sex can be a radical – and dangerous – act.  Speaking up about a mental health struggles is risky and brave for anybody to do. Words like “crazy” and “psycho” are thrown around with abandon. People with mental health issues are routinely portrayed as dangerous. Services that actually help us are thin on the ground and getting cut left, right and centre. Being a woman who talks about sex and is also open about her mental health. Ohhh, boy…

I’ve had my promiscuity chalked up to my mental health conditions more times than I can count. (“Poor girl, she’s acting out sexually because she’s depressed” at best, or “crazy whore!” at worst.) Interestingly, the same has also been true in reverse (“you wouldn’t be so depressed if you’d stop sleeping around!”) But that’s not how this works! I’m a proud slut[1] AND I have a mental health condition. One did not cause the other and ceasing one[2] will not “cure” the other.

The #SexNotStigma campaign aims to break taboos when it comes to talking about sex, including that surrounding sex and mental health. This post is my attempt to add my voice to that vital conversation.

I wrote recently about how I don’t think “don’t play when you’re depressed” is useful or realistic advice, and today I want to expand on that and talk about why, far from being off-limits when I’m low, sexuality has probably helped save my life more than once.

Sex: intimacy, connection, love.

Some people want to be left alone and can’t bear to be touched when they’re depressed. My experience is usually the opposite. I want to be around the people I love and trust, to connect with them in deep and profound ways. Sex is one of the ways in which I connect with some of the important people in my life. Therefore, honestly, fucking my brains out (or at least fucking my sadness out for a while) is one of the best ways a partner can help me when I’m struggling.

Sex reminds me, viscerally and in the moment, that I am loved. For me, mental health wise, a really good fuck with someone I love is basically a cuddle on speed. Throw in a few dozen orgasms (yes, your girl over here is SUPER multi orgasmic) and you will see a marked improvement in the happiness of your Amy.

Sex helps me to focus on all the joyful things – pleasure, love, connection, vulnerability, sensation – in a world that’s fucked.

Sex literally reminds me that there’s so much to live for.

Masturbation: the ultimate self-love.

Self-loathing is a feature of my depression and an unwelcome visitor that likes to pop in from time to time. I’ve learned that the best way to combat it is to be excessively kind to myself – the way you’d be kind to a partner, friend or child who was in pain. Sometimes I take myself out for coffee and cake. Sometimes I give myself permission to stay in bed, read and nap – take a “mental health day,” if you will. And sometimes, I masturbate!

Aside from the obvious benefits of all the happy chemicals that are released at the point of orgasm, masturbation is a means of reminding myself that I am worthy and deserving of pleasure. And on the occasions when romantic rejection or the ending of a relationship triggers my depression, masturbation reminds me that my sexual (and loving!) relationship with myself is the first, last and most important one of my life.

Who needs that git who dumped me when you have cutting edge sex toys, am I right?

Kink: freedom in bondage.

Submitting to a safe partner can be really positive for me when I’m feeling low.

Kink, especially pain play, pulls me out of my head and into my body. It’s hard to be sad when all I can think about is the hand spanking my ass! It’s grounding. It makes all the noise in my head go quiet.

Submission makes me feel useful. When I feel worthless, a well-timed “good girl” can do wonders. To know that I am pleasing somebody else, that I am serving them, gives me a purpose. It reminds me that I have value.

Kink gives me permission to be vulnerable. Play gives me chance to cry if I need to, to scream if I want to, to get pent-up emotions out. It releases me from the responsibility of decision making, of caring for myself or anyone else, even if only for a short time. It gives me permission to just be.

Discovering new paths to pleasure

Mental illness can impact sexuality in many ways. In particular, feeling very low can make it difficult to get in the right headspace to enjoy sex or orgasm. Certain types of common antidepressants including Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) can also cause erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia. When I first started taking citalopram – a common SSRI – I lost my ability to orgasm for a month.

Was it hell? Yes. Did it also teach me something valuable, namely that I kinda have an orgasm denial kink? Also yes. While this is something I prefer to be voluntary and not drug-induced, going through this experience taught me something really valuable about my fetishes. So there’s value in that.

Problems such as ED and anorgasmia suck (if you’ll pardon the pun) but they also force you to get creative. I finally broke through my month-long dry spell with a high powered vibrator. That’s how I learned that I love really intense vibration! If your cock isn’t getting hard in the way you want it to, you might discover other routes to sexual bliss that you’d never have previously considered or bothered to try.

Integrating the two

I’ve come to terms, over ten years of having a formally diagnosed mental health condition, that it’s not going away. It’s with me for life and I am better off learning how to manage it than hoping it will disappear. Just like a diabetic would take insulin every day, I take my antidepressants to keep me healthy. (Conceptualising my illness as being exactly comparable to a physical health issue – BECAUSE IT IS – has been surprisingly empowering.)

I’ve also grown into my sexuality in the last ten years. From a girl who was terrified to admit, even in a whisper, that she liked girls and might want to be spanked, I’ve grown into a woman who owns her desires and explores them unapologetically.

And, crucially, I’ve learned to integrate these two things. When my bisexual, kinky and non-monogamous identities ceased to be sources of shame, my mental health directly improved as a result. When my condition started to be properly managed, my sex life improved instantly. And when I learned to use my sexuality to enhance my mental health, I gained a tool that has saved my life.

[1] Yay, reclaiming slurs!
[2] Because you can totally choose to stop being mentally ill, right?

This post was kindly sponsored by the lovely folks at Hot Octopuss, a fantastic and innovative sex toy company who are committed to tackling taboos around sex. Check out their brilliant range of products, including the new Queen Bee, and their blog, where they talk sex, health and stigma. They’ve even offered a discount code for Coffee & Kink readers – use CK10 to get 10% off (and send a little bit of support my way.) All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

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