I have spent the better part of a week now trying to figure out just how the connection between my mental health and my sex life intersects. I keep finding a lot of data, but it is difficult to parse and even harder to explain.
What it boils down to is that I have been everywhere from hypersexual to functionally asexual depending on how manic or depressed I was at any given time. Various medications that I have been on have also heightened these effects in either direction as well.
Having an abusive former spouse who did not understand or did not care about the wild variations and how they affected me meant that my own sexuality as well as my mental health was used against me (in addition to bipolar disorder type 2 with rapid cycles I also suffer from an anxiety disorder and, due to the trauma of my marriage, PTSD)
I’ve been coerced, tortured, abused, and more recently, loved for the first time in my life. The decade of the coercion combined with my mental illness has left incredible scars on my psyche. Talking about sex can, at times, be impossible for me (and I’m a sex blogger so that’s gotta change), communicating my wants or needs is an arduous task at best, and simply allowing myself to want something, much less ask for it is a struggle. My partner has been incredibly, incredibly patient with me and wonderful to me throughout everything that has gone on both while watching my marriage fall apart and being unable to help and then afterwards when we ended up together.
Sometimes, an unexpected noise like a door creaking can derail sex because it triggers my panic attacks, sometimes I can’t even bear to be touched because of the flashbacks; other times I wake up screaming. All of these instances work in conjunction to take my sexuality and smash it into a bunch of tiny pieces that I can’t put back together. All because the connections in my brain aren’t wired quite right and someone chose to exploit that under the guise of loving me.
Having spent years of my life viewing my sex life through that lens of abuse has meant that I didn’t really know what to expect from my partner and that my partner has been, and continues to be, very careful with me at times. It is a safety issue for us that goes beyond things like safewords and best practices regarding safe sex. It is what reminded me that consent is sexy as well as necessary. I was introduced to the idea of using lube, because my ex thought that it wasn’t necessary, I’m learning that it is OK to talk and laugh and have fun, that it is OK if things don’t end in an orgasm, or six. Basic things, that I may have learned long before I was married, but I later had ripped from me and dismissed as frigidity, sluttishness (in a condescending usage), or simple stupidity as though I was incapable of knowing about my own wants and needs and clearly too dumb to attend to those of the “man” in my life.
I wouldn’t wish the things that I have suffered upon anyone, not even the ex from hell, but it is my hope that even just one person sees this post and knows that they are more than their mental illness, more than just someone to be used and tossed aside, more than just their cunt, their breasts, their penis, their body as sexual tool. You can be crazy and having a happy fulfilling sex life. You can be an abuse survivor and find a new normal. Mental illness and/or trauma does not have to dictate who or what you are.
That’s your job. Now, go do you.