Making the Beast With Two Backs... with the Black Dog

In my more goth yearsI’m quite possibly crazy.

It’s been suggested I have lots of things- severe depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder. I don’t really subscribe to any of those except, perhaps, bipolar- anyway, whatever I have, I’m pretty good at managing it most of the time. Or so I tell myself- I mean, I do still have impulsive tendencies, both on the manic and depressed sides of the spectrum. Still, generally I’m at a level state- a bit more panicky than others, maybe, but functional, even happy.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 12, basically right when I was discovering my sexuality. I was immediately put on medication and my weird relationship with my sexuality started then. I was one of the last children I knew to lose my virginity- partially because I was deeply in love with one guy, but also because I wasn’t particularly rarin’ to go thanks to Zoloft and Lithium. Lithium also made me gain weight, something that made high school near unbearable.

I spent a lot of time in and out of institutions for troubled teenagers- places teeming with hormones out of control. But I noticed there were two types of kids- asexual ones, or ones who did sexual things in order to feel anything, anything at all. Not the healthiest way to relate to your pink bits! It taught me a lot about sex and mental illness. I knew I needed to develop some ideas on things to try to make it work in a healthier way.

When I first started having sex with more than one person, I was very uncomfortable with my weight, had scars on my arms from cutting, and was generally trying to fuck my way to better self esteem. I desperately wanted to be accepted and told I was pretty, because I didn’t believe it. My depression was like a haze through which I saw everything, including sex, and it took some intensity to make it break through the clouds. For me at least, depression went either of two unhealthy ways- never wanting to have sex, or lots of promiscuous, numb sex with people in a quest to find meaning and self-worth through orgasms. It didn’t really work.

Then there was a period of time where I was struggling with flashbacks and couldn’t stand to be erotically touched. That went on for 6 months at least, though I begrudgingly allowed myself to be touched sexually even when I wasn’t in the mood after that 6 months. I’m still twitchy about sexual touch sometimes- it can occasionally feel demanding, or  serve to remind me that I can’t cum like other people, making me feel inadequate.

Even today there are days when sexual energy drains me beyond belief, and days when it leaves me singing in my blood. And it’s very hard to anticipate which is which, even now, when most of the offer effects of an unstable mood are behind me.

In relationships, I’ve noticed is that I am a rescuer, or perhaps just a wallower. Oh god yes. I am attracted to people who are like me- potentially mentalists. They tend to seem like my people- artistic, politically frustrated, sexually experimental, interested in the macabre. I fall for people who are like shelter cats- in need of a little more love and care to make them feel safe. Skittish people, sometimes, or people who will strike out when scared. Sometimes it works out ok- the girlfriend who needs lots of alone time to build up her energy is happy for me to go out and see other people, for example. Sometimes it doesn’t- the poly-curious girl who has a poor body image and anxiety disorder can struggle to put herself out there and meet people, or the long distance depressed boyfriend can struggle to accept their lover having other local lovers. It’s easy as it stands for jealousy to cause anxiety and/or self-blame, but it becomes potentially a minefield when you add emotional instability to that.

This means I’ve had a lot of experience on both sides of the vibrator of sex and mentalism.

Struggling with mental health issues in a “sex positive” community can be really difficult. The continuous loud declarations of hatred for “baggage” or “drama” can lead to people who have trauma histories or depression feeling isolated and unwanted, or like they have to hide their issues to fit in. There’s not a lot of open, friendly, accepting discussion on this, something I find really troublesome. Sex and kink are fun, sure, but both also lead to us relating to our emotional states sometimes very differently- we might be triggered by a specific word said in a scene, for example, or fall into a depression when orgasm is impossible to achieve. This, too, is part of being sex positive, in my opinion- welcoming and talking about when things are difficult.

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