[Guest Post] Being a Submissive with ADHD by Redridingbrat

While I don’t have an actual diagnosis of ADHD, I’ve long felt that it’s something I very likely have at least to some degree. Whenever I see any ADHD content, from medical information to memes, I find myself going “yep, it me”. So I wasn’t altogether surprised when I also found this piece from my friend Redridingbrat (she/her) deeply relatable.

I feel very strongly that kink is for all consenting adults who want to engage in it. Many of the images we see online and in the media are reductive, exclusionary, and harmful. That’s why it’s so important to me to represent a diversity of experiences on this blog. To that end, I’m thrilled to bring you this piece from RRB on ADHD and submission.

As always, you can help me to pay more lovely guest writers by chipping in via the tip jar.

Amy x

Being a Submissive with ADHD by Redridingbrat

What comes to mind when you think of the perfect submissive?

Perhaps it is someone who is entirely focused on their Dominant, able to follow the rules and pre-emptively do whatever their Dominant might desire.

How does this change when you have ADHD?

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a medical condition that affects the way a person thinks and acts. This often presents as someone being inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive – three things that can often clash with the pop culture view of submission. As a submissive with ADHD, I have had to work with my Dominant to make sure that my submission isn’t adversely affected by my ADHD.

One of the ways inattention in ADHD can affect a D/s dynamic is forgetfulness. Forgetting rules, forgetting tasks, forgetting where things have been placed… not something that is in the picture-perfect view of a “sub”! Thankfully, this is something this can be easily accommodated. Having the rules written up and displayed somewhere is a straightforward way of not relying on the memory. Having things placed in see through or open containers lets you quickly see where they are. A long-term solution is to have your Dominant help you create habits, so you do not need to remember a thing.

Another annoying symptom of ADHD is being prone to distraction. Sitting in a corner with no stimulation is my personal idea of hell. It isn’t just me who can suffer as a result of this, though; losing interest in an activity halfway through a scene can very quickly make a Dominant feel like they failed at a scene, and make the submissive then feel guilty for not being able to concentrate. This does not have an easy fix but there are things that help. Doing shorter activities can do wonders, as this gives less chances for the brain to wander off. Sensory deprivation can also help as it can force the submissive to focus on their other senses. The biggest things that can help are open communication and being self-aware. By letting your Dominant know when you are having a bad day focusing, you can reassure each other that neither is at fault when focus issues arise.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another symptom of ADHD is hyperfocus; getting so consumed by a task that everything else is ignored. When a task is interrupted by something else, it can be extremely hard to bring yourself out of the task and into the new thing, regardless of how urgent it may be. In extreme cases, this can lead to ignoring the need to drink or use the toilet for hours on end. One thing my Dominant has found to help with this is simply asking “when will this be done?”, helping me to verbalise what done looks like as well as giving me a subconscious queue to start bringing myself out of the task. Having a set routine and structure also helps with this as it ensures that my body becomes accustomed to performing certain activities at certain time, with an external check (my Dominant) making sure it is adhered to.

Another symptom of ADHD that is often overlooked is internal motivation. I can often sit in “standby mode”, endlessly scrolling social media whilst given tasks go unfulfilled. Part of this is that a larger task can be overwhelming if not broken down into smaller steps, making it physically uncomfortable to get started. Something that can really help prevent situations like this is breaking a large task down into multiple smaller parts, while also being clear about what signifies completion of each part. For example, “make yourself presentable for me” can be broken down into: “Go shower, style your hair into a high ponytail, put on a full face of makeup with red lipstick, and wear the red underwear. I want these tasks to be complete by 5pm”. Rewards-based dynamics are also excellent for those who require the internal motivation to be turned external. Extra orgasms for doing a large task? Yes please!

Whilst I have spoken at length about the challenges of having ADHD, it does come with a number of positives too. Those of us with ADHD often excel when in “crisis mode”, meaning we can be very good if something goes wrong in a scene. ADHD folks are also creative in our problem solving, making us the perfect people to do puzzle-based tasks or mend broken toys. And ADHD people can also be more adventurous, making us the perfect partner for trying new activities in the bedroom.

ADHD can make submission hard. It breaks many of the pre-conceived notions of what a “good submissive” looks like. Someone who is forgetful, distractable, and hard to self-motivate is not the “ideal” that is written about in popular literature. However, there are things that can help overcome the barriers that may come up in a D/s dynamic. The main thing to remember is that D/s is not one size fits all. You can customise and change how your relationship looks. You are not a failure if it does not look like the glamorised novels. Anyone can be a submissive. All you need to do is identify as one and find someone who adores you and your style.

Redridingbrat is a switchy brat who loves nothing more than to engage her submissive side. Her main experiences involve rope, D/s and discussions surrounding disability within the kink community.

How Wand Vibrators Helped Me Reclaim My Sexuality When Antidepressants Killed It

I’ve been on antidepressants for the majority of my adult life, in three separate stints (having come off them most recently earlier this year). I’m very pro medication for those who need it which, at the times I was taking it, I absolutely did. I’m not exaggerating when I say that those meds saved my life on more than one occasion.

Wand vibrators - Honey Wand from Honey Play Box
Honey Wand by Honey Play Box

But like any medications, antidepressants often have side effects, which can range in severity from mildly annoying to seriously debilitating. One of the worst side effects I experienced on two out of the three antidepressants I tried was a significant change to my sexuality. This manifested in different ways on each drug.

On Fluoxetine (Prozac), I pretty much lost my sex drive entirely for months. Anything that had been pleasurable just felt like… nothing. This wasn’t limited to sex, either – I also lost my appetite and all ability to derive pleasure from food. On Citalopram, I lost my ability to orgasm while my body adjusted to the meds. While this did have some pleasant results (particularly discovering that I have an orgasm denial kink), it was also upsetting and frustrating. Feeling like I had no control over my body and like I’d lost one of my greatest sources of pleasure was so damaging that I seriously considered coming off the meds that were otherwise helping with my depression.

Trying Sex Toys

The first time antidepressants killed my sex life, I was so thoroughly miserable (both from the depression and from the side effects of the meds) that I wasn’t even interested in reclaiming it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have sex or masturbate for about nine months at one stage. In hindsight, this probably made things even worse, because my sexuality has always been one of the key ways that I access pleasure and joy. At that time, I didn’t own any sex toys, and any touch from either myself or my partner left me cold.

The second time was a different matter, though. This time, the antidepressants actually took the edge off the worst of the sadness and hopelessness, and I still wanted sex. I just couldn’t orgasm, either with my partner or by myself. Though orgasm is not necessarily the goal of sex, this quickly became frustrating and then enraging. I felt like my body was betraying me. Like I had to choose between having a properly functioning brain and a satisfying sex life.

The turning point came when my then-partner pulled out a wand vibrator after about a month of this issue. That thing finally broke through the orgasm block. And, once that dam broke, it became easier and easier to get there again. I invested in a wand for myself pretty quickly after that, and it became my go-to toy.

Breaking Through the Depression-Haze

Even now, when I’m not currently on any psychiatric medication (though I accept I might be again in the future), I’m most likely to reach for my wand vibes when I’m in the middle of a bad depression funk. Contrary to popular belief, it’s still possible to feel horny at the same time as being depressed. Sad people need pleasure and orgasms, too! There have also been times when I haven’t felt horny, but I knew intellectually that an orgasm would make me feel better.

Sometimes, when I’m very very depressed, I feel as though there’s a kind of fog around me. The fog keeps me at least partly disconnected from everything and everyone around me. At its worst, it creates a sense of being somewhat outside and detached from my own body. In this state, many types of touch that would normally be pleasurable struggle to penetrate the fog. When that happens, I need intense stimulation and lots of it. It’s times like this that I might crave certain BDSM activities even more than usual. It’s also times like this when knock-your-socks-off powerful wand vibes are a Godsend.

The thing with my favourite wand vibes is that ultimately, they can wrench an orgasm from my body with very little active input from me. This has a lot of fun potential (forced orgasm scenes anyone?) It’s also extremely useful during periods of significant depression. If I want to orgasm at my own or a partner’s hand, or with a lower powered toy, it can be fun but often requires significant effort, mentally if not physically. With a powerful enough wand, I basically just put it in the right spot and wait for the orgasm to happen. In this way, I can access pleasure and the positive physical and mental health benefits of orgasm even when I feel so low I don’t want to leave my bed.

Sexual Pleasure Matters

When someone is dealing with severe health issues, either physical or mental, it’s often tempting to see sexual pleasure as trivial. Certainly when I spoke to my doctor about the side effects of my various medications, they dismissed my concerns. Did I want to be able to orgasm or did I want to not be sad? Because I couldn’t have both.

Except I actually could, and I needed and deserved to have both.

If you’re struggling with pleasure or orgasm due to health issues and medication, I want you to hear this: sexual pleasure matters! It’s not trivial and it’s not unimportant. If it’s important to you, then it matters. And you deserve to have what you need to feel sexually satisfied – whether that’s a change of medication, a super powerful vibrator, or just to change up what you’re doing.

Thanks to Honey Play Box for sponsoring this post. All views and experiences are my own!

The Words I Claim

“The day I changed was the day I quit trying to fit into a world that never really fit me.”
– JM Storm

At some point, I became aware that I am many things that our society does not like. I am queer, I love more than one, I am mentally ill, I am a woman who speaks her mind and won’t shut up and loves sex. I felt weird, out of place, and sometimes broken. For a long time, I wondered what was wrong with me.

It took me even longer to realise there is nothing wrong with me.

At some point, I realised I could claim the words that had once been used to hurt me. I realised that it was others who had ascribed negative value judgements to those things and that I did not have to accept them if I didn’t want to. That was the day I began to step into my identity.

So yes, I claim the word queer. You don’t get to throw at me, with hatred in your voice, the most beautiful part of my identity. I love women, I love men, and I love people between and outside and beyond this binary. You will never make me feel ashamed of that again.

I claim polyamorous. Our society tells us that we must only love one person. Not only that, but we must only ever have loved one person for it to be real and true, rendering all other loves retroactively invalid. Love isn’t more pure and true by virtue of how many people you extend it to, or don’t. Love one or love many, it’s all wonderful. Because love? Love is everything.

I claim slut. Depending on who you ask, slut is a term of empowerment or the worst thing a woman can possibly be. Slut, when you throw it at me hatefully, says that you see that I live my sex life on my terms and you can’t stand that. Slut, to me, means that my body is mine, my sexuality is mine, my choices are mine.

I know it makes many people uncomfortable, whether it’s because they think people like me are dangerous or in a more benign-ableism “your illness doesn’t define you” way, but I claim mentally ill. I didn’t ask to be born with a chemical imbalance in my brain or to live through traumas that would leave lasting scars. But that’s the hand life gave me. And no, maybe it doesn’t define me, but it does impact my life every day. And I have survived and even thrived in the face of that, so hell yes, I claim it.

Women like me, women who speak their minds and won’t minimise themselves for men’s comfort, are often called difficult. I think I was 15 the first time someone told me I was difficult, too opinionated, too much. What I understand now is that that said far more about them than me. So yes, I claim difficult woman. If you can’t handle someone who won’t make herself smaller, well, that sounds like a you problem.

Finally, I claim survivor. People don’t like to acknowledge that abuse happens, let alone how widespread it is. They don’t want to see it because once they see it, truly see it, they will feel compelled to speak up against it. Most people do not want to or cannot do that so instead, they shut down and deny that it exists. What happened to me was not my fault or my choice, but I get to decide what I do with it. I was hurt but I survived, and I am proud to claim the label of survivor.

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I Need Noise!

Say something – do it soon, it’s too quiet in this room
I need noise, I need the buzz of a sub
Need the crack of a whip, need some blood in the cut

– K Flay

Something I’ve heard multiple times throughout the pandemic is the assumption that introverts will be fine. After all, we like staying inside and keeping things low-key and not interacting with anyone… right?

Well, as it turns out, not really.

I’m an introvert and I am decidedly not fine at all. Yes, I value my own space. Yes, I sometimes prefer to stay in as opposed to going out (sometimes.) And yes, I’ll often choose spaces that are a little quieter and a little less crowded. But the keywords in all of this are sometimes and often.

No-one, not even the most introverted introvert, is supposed to live like this for a year or more.

For me, once the initial tidal wave of panic and fear passed sometime in late March last year, the not-okayness has been a slowly rising fog. Some days it’s denser than others. Sometimes I almost think it’s almost cleared, then I’ll realise I can’t see a metre in front of my face. And one of the things that is driving me absolutely crazy is the relentless fucking quietness of everything.

As I recently told my friends, “I want to go clubbing. I don’t even really like clubbing any more, but I want to go.” I want to go to a packed London bar, the kind of place where you have to fight your way through a crowd just to get a drink. I want to dance shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, make eye contact with a girl I’ll never dare approach, accept a drink thrust at me by a guy I’ll never fuck.

I want to be the first on the dancefloor at a sex club, shamelessly pulling my dress off over my head to reveal something extraordinarily black and tiny and lacy underneath. To take a spin around the pole before I’ve drunk enough to render it a bad idea. To blow a kiss to that cute couple and wonder if it’s their first time when they blush. I want to hear the music punctuated by whip cracks and squeals of blissful pain and moans of pleasure.

I want the kind of place where you have to shout to be heard. Where the music thumps so loud and heavy that I can feel it rising through the floor and throbbing in my legs, my stomach, my cunt. I want somewhere I can be anonymous, one of a crowd. Somewhere I can get out of my head. Somewhere that’s such an overwhelming assault on the senses that I couldn’t think clearly even if I wanted to.

It’s too fucking quiet and I can hardly stand it any more. I need noise. I need the kind of noise that silences what’s in my head. Now. Please.

So please check in with your introvert-identified friends as much as you do with the extroverts. Please don’t assume we’re fine. And please don’t make the jokes about how we’ve been training for this our whole lives – we’ve heard them all and they’re not funny anymore, if they ever were.

Who wants to go somewhere BUSY and LOUD when all this is over?

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How to Maintain Balance When Everything is On Fire

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
– Albert Einstein

Balance, however you define it, is important. But it’s also really hard when everything feels overwhelming. And oh my goodness, everything does feel overwhelming right now, doesn’t it?

As of right now, the UK is in what has been not-so-affectionately dubbed “Lockdown 2.0”. After completely failing to take care of my health in any reasonable way during Lockdown The First, I’m trying really hard to maintain balance and a modicum of self-care practice this time.

To that end, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite tips for staying balanced and grounded when things are hard everything is on fucking fire.

Rest

I put this first on the list because it’s by far the one I’m worst at. It can be so, so hard to switch off, unplug, and decide to do nothing for a while. But rest is absolutely vital. Without it, your health will suffer and you’ll hit burnout before you know it.

Here’s a hack that works for me: put time for yourself in your calendar, like a date you’d make with someone else, and stick to it. Then use that time to binge that Netflix show you’ve been saving, read for pleasure, take a bubble bath, or just take a nap/go to bed early.

Rest isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Eat something

When did you last eat? If it’s been more than a few hours or if you feel hungry right now, go and eat something! I recommend something with complex carbs and protein, rather than something that will give you a sugar high and then make you crash an hour later. But hey, if a sugary treat is what sounds good right now, have at it!

The trick is to listen to your body. It knows what it needs.

Move your body

I don’t mean “go out for a ten mile run” (though if that’s what makes you feel balanced and centered, knock yourself out.) Just move your body in whatever way feels good. That might look like hitting the gym and working up a sweat, or it might look like practicing some gentle yoga, or it might look like dancing to some music in your bedroom, or it might look like just doing a few stretches without even getting out of bed.

When I’m feeling sad or stressed out, I find getting on my yoga mat or having a play with my hula-hoop really helps me to regain and maintain balance.

Say no

If you’re feeling stressed, stretched, and overwhelmed, it might be because there are too many demands on your time and energy right now. Practice saying no.

If a client wants you to take on some extra work last minute? Sorry, no. Yet another Zoom happy hour? Pass if you don’t feel like it. Colleague wants you to pick up their shift? No can do!

If it doesn’t serve you or make you happy and it can possibly be avoided, just say no. Saying no firmly but politely doesn’t make you a jerk, it makes you a person with good boundaries.

Masturbate

I had to throw this one in the mix – this is supposed to be a sex blog, after all! Seriously though, masturbation is amazing. It not only feels good, it has so many benefits for your physical and mental health. Need to get out of your head and into your body for a while? Grab some porn or erotica and your favourite vibrator/stroker/hand, and give yourself some love.

Ask for help

The idea that we are all supposed to be self-reliant is so, so toxic. You know what’s a sign of strength? Asking for help when you need it. So if you’re struggling, reach out to someone. Talk to your partner or a friend, call a helpline like Samaritans, make an appointment with your doctor or therapist. Whatever it is you need to help you ground and maintain balance, you can ask for it.

You don’t have to do this alone.

You’ve got this.

It’s going to be okay.

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Sex Tips for Bad Depression Days

Hi, I’m Amy and I have depression. (Plus anxiety, PTSD, and a whole fun laundry list of Brain Stuff! But today we’re focusing on depression).

My depression and I have learned to live with each other over the years. It’s not exactly a good relationship, but we’ve reached an uneasy truce of sorts. One of the biggest challenges for me has been navigating the impact of depression on my sexuality.

To that end, here are some of the things I’ve learned about sex on bad depression days. Take the ones that work for you, discard the rest. We’re all different, and what works for me might not work for you.

It’s okay to not have sex

I feel like this should-be-obvious-but-isn’t point is often missed out of conversations about sex and depression. If you just can’t right now, that’s okay! You’re no less of a partner or a sex-positive person if you sometimes can’t or don’t want to have sex at all.

If you don’t feel like it? Give yourself a break and let your libido return in its own time.

But you’re also allowed to want sex!

There’s a school of thought (that I hate) that says it’s not okay to have sex with a depressed person. Well if that was the case, I wouldn’t have gotten laid at all since… March?

If you want to have sex, even while you’re depressed, that’s okay! As long as you have capacity to consent, there’s no reason not to go ahead and enjoy having sex if you want to.

One of the worst things past partners have done when I’ve been depressed is decline sex (that they otherwise would have wanted) to “protect me from myself”. A depressed person is still a grown-ass adult capable of making choices, and doesn’t need to be protected from their own desire for sex.

See sex as self care

If you’d like to have sex and think it would make you feel better, why not conceptualise it as being in the same category as drinking a glass of water, going for a walk, or meditating? That is, as an act of self-care.

I find this particularly useful when it comes to masturbation. If I push through the fog and get myself to masturbate, an orgasm will invariably make me feel better… or at least help me sleep (which will make me feel better).

Have low-energy sex

For many people, including me, one of the primary symptoms of depression is debilitating exhaustion. When I’m in that space, four-hour marathon fuck sessions in all kinds of creative positions are just not going to happen.

But lying back while my partner fucks me? Crawling over their lap for a spanking? Pushing a wand vibrator against my junk (possibly through clothing) and just leaving it there until I come? That I can do!

Use the physical to take you out of your head

Lots of people find intense workouts or adrenaline-fuelled challenges comforting when they’re depressed. This is because focusing on something very physical can take your focus away from the dark places your brain is going to.

For me, that intense physical experience is sex and/or kink. If I have highly physical sex, it allows me to focus on something else besides the hell my brain is dragging me through. Whether it’s the thud of body-on-body or the slap of a heavy flogger across my butt, physical sensations take me out of my depression spiral and ground me in the moment.

Honour where your body is at

Sometimes, depression can mess with physical arousal. In other words, the brain might be willing, but the body has other ideas. For people with penises, this might result in difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. People with vulvas might struggle with a lack of natural lubrication.

The best way to have great sex on bad depression days is to honour where your body is and meet it there. That means staying curious, staying adaptable, and trying not to get frustrated or cast blame.

If you can, see it as an opportunity for learning and experimentation. If you want to have sex but your penis just isn’t getting hard today, why not pleasure your partner with your hand, your mouth, or a toy? And if genital stimulation is difficult right now, you could trade massages, experiment with kink, or just hold your partner and whisper filth in their ear while they jerk off.

Use the tools that help

Sex toys are amazing any time, but they really come into their own for me on bad depression days. If a partner’s bio-dick isn’t getting hard (or they don’t feel like using it), they can use a dildo on me. If I’m not up for penetration, clitoral vibes can provide tonnes of pleasure.

Then of course there’s probably my favourite depression-sex tool of all time: lube! When I’m sad, I can be mentally turned on but my body might not have the physical response to match. Tonnes of lube keeps things painless and fun.

So there you have it – my sex-and-depression tips. I’d love to know if any of these work for you, or if you have any favourite strategies I’ve not thought of!

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Masturbation Monday: Masturbating When Depressed

I know I’m depressed when I start masturbating not out of horniness, but out of a desire to just feel something. I know I’m really depressed when I stop masturbating completely.

Heads up: this one talks about severe depression and briefly mentions suicidal ideation. I also discuss needle play in a kink context. Please take care of yourselves.

The reasons for the former are perhaps self-explanatory. When you’re depressed, you can feel adrift, listless and lost. Finding a way to simply become grounded in your body again can be tremendously helpful. Orgasm releases endorphines and dopamine, the body’s natural “happy” chemicals. That’s why you sometimes feel spacey and euphoric after really good sex.

As both a writer and a person with a laundry list of mental health issues, I spend a lot of my life in my head. And my head isn’t always a calm and happy place to be. This means that the opportunity to get out of my head and into my body is precious. Masturbation can be a way to give that to myself.

Even if I don’t really want to masturbate, I sometimes make myself because I know it will help. It’s a bit like making yourself drink a glass of water when you’re feeling crappy. You don’t wanna, exactly, but you know it’ll make you feel better so you do it. And usually it does help, at least for a short while.

The latter, though, is harder to both explain and deal with.

When I’m in my deepest, darkest pit of depression – the kind where I either cry for days or lie on the sofa doing nothing while I seriously contemplate killing myself – I sort of lose the ability to properly feel anything physical. I’ll know intellectually that I am, for example, hungry or thirsty or needing to pee or that my left arm has gone to sleep. But I don’t really feel it, at least not in the usual way. It’s like all sensation is masked under a thick layer of cotton wool or a heavy fog. The best way I can describe it is that my sadness is so dense that it sits around my body like a physical barrier.

It’s at this point in depression that my sexuality completely vanishes. It’s at this stage where I’ll recoil if a lover touches me, and beg my partners not to talk about anything sexy. “I can’t bear it,” I wrote to one of my lovers the last time I was this sort of depressed. “Can we just forget I even have genitals for a bit?”

It’s at times like this that I neglect this blog and my social media accounts and seriously consider just shutting it all down because I’ll never ever want to have sex again anyway , right?

I think there’s another element to it, too. Depression, for many sufferers, is intimately bound up with feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing. This is definitely the case for me. When I’m in the grips of it, I feel on a deep level that I’m somehow bad, broken, not worthy. And of course that drives a feeling that I don’t deserve pleasure, so why would I have sex or masturbate?

I’ve tried, in the past, to use kink to pull myself out of this headspace. The results have been mixed. Partners are often, very understandably, reluctant to do things like hit me when my ability to consent may be compromised by my mental state. This is especially true when I’m in the aforementioned self-loathing spiral. On at least one occasion, a Dominant partner has realised that I’m asking them to hurt me not out of kinky desire, but out of a feeling that I need to be punished for some fundamental flaw in me… and, rightfully, refused to play under those circumstances.

On another occasion a few years ago, I invited Fondlebeast over when I was in the depths of this kind of depression. I asked him to do play piercing (sometimes called needle play) on me. The express reason I asked for this was “I want to feel something so I know I’m still alive”. And you know what? It actually did help.

As an educator I don’t necessarily advocate for this approach. But in that instance and in that time, it was what I needed and it worked. There was also a very specific relational context at play. I’ve known Fondlebeast for well over a decade and we’ve played together dozens if not hundreds of times.

To bring this back around to masturbation, though, I really don’t have any easy conclusions or solutions. When the fog of depression is this dense, I don’t think the “just make yourself masturbate because you know it’ll help” would be effective. Chances are I wouldn’t physically be able to reach orgasm or probably even feel much pleasure anyway.

Sometimes mental illness just fucking sucks and all we can do is sit in the suckyness, waiting for it to pass. One of the most useful coping strategies I’ve found is to remember that it is always temporary. The fog always does lift. My sex drive always does come back. Eventually, I feel wanting of and deserving of pleasure again.

Something else I’ve found helpful is to think of my sex drive as the canary in the coal mine of my mental health. Under this schema, losing all desire is a warning light to heed, rather than a symptom to manage away.

How do you handle masturbation and sex when you’re depressed, lovelies?

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Masturbation Monday: 5 Great Reasons to Wank

I’m trying to embrace the spirit of Masturbation Monday as being for both smutty stories (things that make you want to masturbate) and essays about masturbation. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about good reasons to wank – besides the obvious “because I’m horny” – and have realised they are surprisingly diverse. So here’s five great reasons to masturbate today!

To help you fall asleep

I masturbate before bed probably five or six nights out of seven, on average. If my brain is feeling restless or my body won’t quite shut down but I need to get some sleep, a quick wank is an ideal way to help me doze off. Canadian sexuality therapist Judith Golden explains that ” because blood pressure is lowered and relaxation is increased through the release of endorphins, masturbation is a good sleeping pill.” (Source here.)

For pain relief

Back before I got an IUD, I used to suffer from absolutely debilitating menstrual cramps. They could render me virtually bedridden, unable to go about my normal tasks. Over the years, I learned that orgasm was one of the few things that really helped.

One study from the University of Münster in Germany found that 60% of their participants experienced reduced migraine symptoms as a result of engaging in sexual activity. Stefan Evers, MD, believes that this could also have to do with the endorphins released at the point of orgasm. Another study from Rutgers University found that people with vulvas could tolerate up to 75% more pain than usual during orgasm. (Source here.)

There’s much more research to be done, of course, but so far the findings seem to agree that orgasm can have a positive impact on pain levels.

To pick you up if you’re feeling down

I always joke (darkly) that I know I’m depressed if I’m masturbating more often to help me feel alive… and really depressed if I just don’t want to wank at all. Seriously, though, despite outdated nonsense about too much masturbation being bad for our emotional wellbeing, masturbation can be great as a tool for managing mental health. It’s a great self care technique, a way to show yourself some love and affection, and I’ve found that the post-wank haze breaks through the depressive fog like little else.

Phychologist Jennifer Rhodes, PsyD, suggests that “masturbation helps to release dopamine and oxytocin, the feel-good chemicals, which would help with symptoms of anxiety or depression.” (Source: here.)

To turn your partner on or to explore a different kind of sexual intimacy

Let’s get a little sexier, shall we? For many people, masturbating in front of their partner or watching their partner wank is sexy as hell. Masturbating for your partner can help to arouse them and get them in the mood for sexy time with you, as well as giving them vital information about how you’d like to be touched.

Don’t forget that masturbating together doesn’t have to lead to sexual contact with the other person or to intercourse. Masturbating side by side, or masturbating while your partner holds you, kisses you, or talks dirty to you, is sex in and of itself – and it can be amazing! Whether one of you isn’t in the mood but is happy to help the other get off, one or both of you isn’t up for sex for physical or mental health reasons, or you’re just feeling like a relaxed session of getting yourselves off, shared masturbation is consistently underrated. Try it!

To learn more about your body

It’s a sex education cliche, but it’s also true that it’s much harder to show a partner how to please you sexually if you don’t know how to please yourself. Masturbation is a brilliant way to explore your own body, your arousal and responses and desires, in a safe and low-pressure way. Whether you’re not having partnered sex yet (or don’t want to ever!) or have been having regular sex for decades, there are endless new things we can learn about ourselves. This is especially true because our bodies change as we age.

Jenny Block writes that “masturbating allows you to stay in touch with your body – how it feels, how it likes to be touched, what brings you pleasure. Your body is yours. It’s your place, your home, your pleasure. It is your right and honour to enjoy it. Sharing it can be a wonderful thing. But if we don’t masturbate, we risk becoming someone else’s vision of ourselves and not remaining true to our desires.” (Source: Block, The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex, p. 85.)

Have you found great reasons to wank beyond the obvious one? Tweet me or share in the comments!

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WWAD? (What Would Amy Do?)

I’ll be honest with you, dear readers. I’m having a really hard time with a lot of things right now. This is for a variety of reasons, not least that my body image is at its lowest level ever (even lower than when I wrote this,) my day job is…. challenging, and I’m currently working through intense childhood trauma as well as the abuse from my ex with my therapist. Basically, I don’t like the person I am at the moment. I’m a sluggish, grumpy, emotionally unavailable shell of myself.

And one of the things I’m finding particularly hard right now is polyamory. Jealousy is biting me hard. Compersion has fucked off somewhere and ghosted me. And I’m forgetting everything I supposedly know about how to handle this shit.

I don’t want to be like this.

In my “real” life (air quotes because this world feels more real to me than my day-to-day life), I have a different persona. Another person I have to be. Let’s call her… Sarah. Sarah is significantly less cool than Amy. She works in an office instead of writing about her vagina on the internet, she wears comfy sweaters and jeans instead of corsets and lingerie, and she plays the role of a straight, monogamous “good girl” in a play called “Small Conservative Town And Judgemental Job”. She’s the person I was for most of the twenty six years of life before I started this blog, found “Amy,” and learned how to be the person I always wanted to be.

Sarah is also many of the traumatised, fucked up, broken pieces of me.

Something that frustrates me is how often I forget how to do the things that I advise other people on all the time. I know how to handle a jealousy flare-up. I know how to own my own shit. And I know how to talk to my partner about a problem without it escalating into a fight. People come to me for advice on this stuff. I run classes on it. And write a fucking column on it! I. Know. This. Shit.

Or at least Amy does.

But Sarah finds it so very hard to tap into this knowledge when I am neck deep in brutal insecurities, non-existent self-esteem and the sense that all I want is for these feelings to STOP.

Sometimes, when I’m struggling with a situation and so deep in panic that I don’t know what to do, I try to ask myself a question: What Would Amy Do? That is, I try to step outside of the immediacy and the pain of the situation, and think: if a reader came to me with this question, what would I tell her to do? What would my advice be? Usually, when I look at it like that, the way forward is much clearer (if still equally difficult to enact in practice.)

So what would Amy do? She’d probably start by apologising to her partner for being an insufferable shit and get her ass back to therapy.

Hey, maybe buy me a coffee to help me keep paying for books and vibrators therapy.

[Guest Post] “Liberating Myself from the Confines of Sex and Love Addiction” by Taylor Morley

This post is the second installment in my “new voices in sex writing” project. This was actually the first pitched piece that I read, and it went straight into the YES pile, on the grounds that it made me cry. Taylor’s story is extremely powerful and I think will resonate with lots of us who have had our perfectly normal and healthy sexuality and/or romantic life pathologised. I have long been in the “sex addiction is not a thing” camp, and if you want to learn more about this from an expert’s point of view, I suggest you check out Dr David Ley’s fantastic book, “The Myth of Sex Addiction.”

Now over to Taylor… 

“Liberating Myself from the Confines of Sex and Love Addiction”

“Maybe she abuses sex as a means to cope like her dad abused alcohol,” my psychology classmate said, as she tapped her leg against the barstool, waiting impatiently for her second beer.

“No,” the next one said, as she hung up with her boyfriend for the third time in 15 minutes. “It sounds like she has borderline tendencies. Like, she’s not actually borderline, she just has the borderline-like tendency to act out sexually and lose herself in each and every partner.”

My friend inhaled as if she was about to speak. Finally, an ally coming to my defense, I thought naively. “I think Taylor just picks the wrong men and she lets sex negatively impact her life. She’s definitely an addict.” Then, she changed the subject to talk about her last failed casual hookup.

I had been the subject of many armchair psychology sessions such as this one. In these scenarios, my body served as the blank screen onto which people projected their greatest sexual anxieties, judgments, and fears. I would often sit quietly, as I did that night, listening to people talk around me as they attempted to diagnose and explain me away. I suspect that it was easier for them to categorize me and squeeze me into neat little pathological boxes than to listen to my lived experience. If I were the only broken toy in need of repair, then no one else would have to engage in any self-examination.

At that point, I had been in recovery for over 3 years, after my therapist and psychiatrist had agreed on a diagnosis of sex and love addiction at age 21.

But I had been a part of this process, as well. The tricky thing about sex and love addiction is that you have the opportunity to diagnose yourself. You can even do it online with a vague questionnaire. In reality, this ludicrous practice opens up far too much space for people who have been shamed sexually to convince themselves that they are, in fact, damaged. When you are raised in a society that defines ‘healthy sex’ in such a narrow fashion – heterosexual, procreative, monogamous sex with cis bodies and few partners – there is far too much room for everyone else to fall into the cracks. Down I fell.

It hadn’t always been this way.

With no basis for self-love, body positivity, or confidence in my youth, I had somehow managed to build and sustain it on my own for a few beautiful years. As I look back on it now in adulthood, I realize how magical and unique that was. When I was 18, I wrote in my diary that sex was “exhilarating and life affirming.” I basked in my own glow. I noted the way my freckles curved around the right side of my back, and named my legs as my favorite body part. I wrote with excitement about my last sexual encounter, reveling in the limitless feeling of orgasm.

While my friends pined for monogamous relationships, I preferred casual dynamics that spoke to my need for exploration and freedom. But that kind of authenticity and self- assuredness had no place in a world that refused to see me as a sexually autonomous being, especially as a young woman. My wings would have to be clipped before I reached the sun.

In those same years before the diagnosis, I was harassed and stalked both on and offline, slut-shamed relentlessly by friends and classmates, sexually assaulted, and victimized by image-based abuse (also known as revenge porn) on more than one occasion. The last encounter with image-based abuse destroyed my budding career and all of my future ambitions when the photos were sent to current and former employers and coworkers.
These events sent me tumbling down the rabbit hole of self-loathing, which had been the goal all along. Once I had convinced myself that sex was negatively impacting my career and relationships, I surrendered to the label of sex and love addict.

I went through the 12 steps, making amends to friends and loved ones, apologizing for “acting out” and allowing my quest for sex to overrule my life.

I examined past traumas, attended women-only meetings as often as possible, and took the program seriously. But as the years drudged on, questions and doubts loomed in the back of my mind. Why were straight and bisexual women overrepresented in all of these recovery meetings? Why were men defined as sex addicts, while women were always identified as sex and love addicts? If the scientific community had never legitimized this addiction, why were we so convinced that these diagnoses were correct? How could doctors even diagnose someone with a condition that did not exist in the DSM? These questions were left unanswered in meeting rooms, and they were always met with pushback and anger, as if I had pulled the rug out from underneath us all.

The underlying, bare bones message from clinicians and fellow addicts were the same: “We see that you enjoy sex, but you don’t seem to feel an adequate level of remorse or self-disgust about it.” The brazenness and the confidence, the casual nature of my relationships – these were the attitudes and behaviors that needed to be fixed, or eliminated entirely. While other people in the program insisted that recovery would bring freedom from shame, I could not taste the independence. Instead, this so-called
‘recovery’ was a pillow held firmly over my face, suffocating me with shame. Every subsequent sexual experience was an exercise in self-flagellation. Whenever I looked at a man and felt a mere twinge of lust, or yearned for a casual encounter, I berated myself internally for falling back into toxic behaviors and ran off to a meeting with my head
hung low.

When society grows tired of policing women’s sexual activity, they teach us to police ourselves, and I was monitoring my own behavior so closely, no one else had to weigh in. It was a dull, colorless existence, and it only served to exacerbate the depression that was already simmering underneath.

If authenticity was my goal – and it was – I would have to liberate myself.

The first step was to exit the program and leave the sex and love addict identity behind. I sought out a sex therapist that had worked with other defectors from the program, and over the past few years, he has helped me re-learn how to have pleasurable, exhilarating, life-affirming sex without the existence of shame. It is a process that has yet to reach its
conclusion, but for the first time in over a decade, I have no interest in contorting myself to fit into a tiny box in order to be more palatable or acceptable to society. My healthy relationship with sex will not be explained away, or pathologized. You will just have to sit there quietly, and listen to my lived experience.

Taylor Morley is an activist, writer, and advocate who writes and speaks on topics ranging from sexual liberation, to anti-imperialism and human rights issues. She does marketing and development for non-profit organizations in Los Angeles, where she resides with her Dorothy Parker books and her vinyl collection.