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 is a meme created and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week! If you enjoyed this piece, please consider buying me a coffee to show your appreciation… or join my sexy patron community on Patreon!

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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Masturbation Monday is a meme owned and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week, or check out all my previous MM stories and essays! If you enjoyed this story, please consider buying me a coffee or joining me on Patreon. Every single £ helps keep the blog going!

Antidepressants: My Longest Relationship

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I have depression. Apart from a brief period between 19 and 21 where I struggled along drug-free, I have been on antidepressants for my entire adult life.

A white woman's tattooed lower legs, wearing black high heels and black knickers around her ankles. By Hot Octopuss. For a post on antidepressants and sex.Today, I wanted to share a few true stories about how these drugs, which probably saved my life, have interacted with my sex life with occasionally hilarious, sometimes sad and frequently frustrating results.

That Time I Didn’t Have Sex for 9 Months

A pretty older woman with long flowing hair, wearing a patterned shirt. Sitting at a table with a mug in front of her, smiling into the camera. By Hot Octopuss, for a post on antidepressants and sex.My first go with antidepressants came when I was 18. I was in a horrible corporate job that was basically slowly ripping out my soul. My boyfriend was abusive (though I couldn’t name it as abuse at the time). I was trying to come to terms with my bisexuality. And most of my friends had gone off to university, leaving me isolated and lonely in my hometown. It was a bad time.

I went to see my GP, adamant I didn’t want medication. What did I want? Just someone to talk to, I think. To feel less alone. They told me I wasn’t sick enough for counselling, and sent me away with a prescription for Prozac.

Prozac and Amy, it turns out, are not friends. It took me from depressed to suicidal. It gave me horrible heartburn and killed my appetite such that I lost a stone in a few short weeks. And worst of all, it killed my sex drive. I couldn’t feel anything, I didn’t want anyone touching my body, and I was so sad and exhausted that evenings and weekends were for mindless TV, naps, and the kind of writing that only comes out of me when I’m trying to stay alive,  not for hot passionate sessions or dirty quickies in the kitchen.

During that time, my boyfriend raped me a handful of times, but I didn’t have consensual sex for about 9 months.

That Time I Discovered My Denial Kink

A male/female couple lying on a bed, face down, him on top of her nuzzling her face. By Hot Octopuss for a post about antidepressants and sex.I’ve already written about how I came to be on Citalopram at the age of 21 (be warned if you click the link, it’s not a pleasant story). A few weeks into that saga, my boyfriend (a different boyfriend to the one discussed above, this one even more abusive) and I were having sex. I was rubbing my clit while he finger-fucked me, a surefire way to get me off. And I just… couldn’t get there. It wasn’t happening. My vulva became sore, and then numb, as I kept chasing that elusive orgasm that just. would. not. come.

Loss of orgasm when on antidepressants is, it turns out, extremely common. So why didn’t my GP mention this to me when they gave me the prescription and we discussed possible side effects? Why didn’t the leaflet included with the pills, which I read religiously three times before popping the first one, say a single word about sexual side effects? Probably because our culture doesn’t regard women’s orgasms as important. And certainly not depressed women’s orgasms. So when I asked for help, my doctor essentially said, “trouble with orgasm is the price you pay for not being depressed”. Okay then.

I made it my mission to learn how to orgasm again while on the medication – which, in all other ways, really was helping me! I masturbated until I was too sore to carry on. My partner and I had sex in all kinds of different positions and configurations. Being poor and without access to good toys at the time, I tried with the vibrators I had. But they were too weak to get me anywhere. It took me a month before I finally reached orgasm again, after over an hour with a high-powered vibrator borrowed from my metamour.

During that month, I was pissed off – at myself, at my doctor, at the pills – and frustrated as all hell. But I was also… more turned on than I had ever been in my life. I soon realised that I kind of enjoyed the ache that came from having a really good sex or masturbation session but not reaching orgasm. I liked the submissive feelings I got when my partner came and I didn’t. When he laughed at my frustration during a particularly Dominant moment… woof. And when my orgasm finally reared its elusive head once more, it was the most explosive one I’d ever had.

I was relieved to have the option to orgasm again, of course. But I’d had a taste of something I liked. I started playing with edging and waiting before coming, both in my masturbation and during sex with my partner.

And that, friends, is how citalopram taught me I have an orgasm denial kink.

That Time I Started Coming Off My Medication

A woman's body from behind, wearing jeans and naked on the top half. She has long flowing hair. By Hot Octopuss, for a post about antidepressants and sex.Which brings me to a couple of months ago. Together with my doctor (a new one, who is amazing) I’m working on coming off citalopram. This is because, having been medicated since the age of 21, I don’t actually know what I’m like without it any more. And I want to find out.

The first two weeks on a half dose were hell. I was crying endlessly, arguing with my partner, barely sleeping, and pretty much oscillating between numbness and crushing, unbearable sadness. And, for that period and a little longer while my body adjusted, my sex drive went haywire.

Specifically: I was horny as hell every moment I wasn’t sobbing, but I at the same time I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone touching my genitals, including myself. It was disconcerting and strange to say the least. My body was all “yeah, lets go!” while my brain wasn’t having any of it.

And Now… What Next?

Mercifully, things have calmed down. I’m still on the journey towards coming off the antidepressants, currently on a half dose with a view to cutting down further in the next few weeks. But the effects on my sex life so far have been fascinating.

Firstly, I’m finding I can come more quickly and easily than I used to when I was on the full dose, especially while masturbating. Gentler toys or my fingers can get me off more often and more reliably. I still love my power tool vibrators, of course, but it’s not all about them now. I can have multiple orgasms more quickly, and more often. And I’m enjoying more than ever experimenting with different sensations, and trying out all kinds of new, different and interesting toys.

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Heads up: this post was sponsored by the wonderful people at Hot Octopuss, who make fantastic and innovative sex toys for both penises and vulvas. Check out their stuff, particularly my personal favourite, the Queen Bee. Images are property of Hot Octopuss and not to be used without their express permission. A banner ad for sex toy company Hot Octopuss, who sponsored a post on sex and mental health