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.
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!