Out Of Kilter

Food For Thought Friday - #F4TFridayGenerally I’ve been quite lucky in this respect. In the relationships I have had, my sexual tastes, appetites and desires have, broadly speaking, been evenly matched by my partners. That’s not to say they have always been in perfect synchronicity; there are always times one one or other of us was ill, or too tired, too stressed, too angry, or on certain occasions, just couldn’t be arsed. These things happen and it’s just part of being human and sharing a relationship with another human being. Yes, they can be frustrating, but they aren’t the end of the world.

For me, however, the thing that is most likely to throw me off my stride is depression. When my mood is low, sex is the last thing on my mind. It’s not easy to have much in the way of sexual desire when you have very little desire for living itself.

Mind MattersI’ve written before about the effects that depression can have on my libido. Arousal itself is sometimes hard to come by, and orgasm can be a hit or miss affair.

In a perverse way though, suppressed libido is a blessing in disguise. When I’m at my lowest, I don’t feel sexy, I don’t feel desirable; a lot of the time I simply just don’t feel anything apart from an overwhelming numbness. In such occasions lack of desire saves me from a frustration that would probably make me feel even worse.

This isn’t my most coherent post, I’ll admit. I suspect it hasn’t given anyone any deep insights into my personality, and I suspect it won’t tell you anything you don’t already know if you’ve followed me for any length of time.

The fact is, that with depression, often it is my whole life that is out of kilter. In such circumstances, the surprise is possibly that I feel any element of sexual desire at all.

ZeN

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Word for Wednesday – Recovery

Recovery

/rɪˈkʌvərɪ/

noun

  1. the act or process of recovering, esp from sickness, a shock, or a setback; recuperation
  2. restoration to a former or better condition
  3. the regaining of something lost

When it comes to depression, and indeed many other afflictions, both mental and physical, recovery is a lengthy process. Depending on the seriousness of your particular affliction, it may respond to a single course of treatment, or it may take much longer with many setbacks and reversals along the way.

For me, sadly, it is the latter. My recovery period can be measured not just in years, but in decades (so far, three decades to be precise).

Mind MattersIt follows a long and winding path, made familiar by repetition. The waypoints and landmarks provide a certain comfort in their familiarity, but it is comfort that is heavily tinged with the regretful knowledge that I have passed this way many times before.

It’s not an exact process. Not every stage is encountered on every pass, nor do they always occur in the same order, but they are similar enough to be recognisable.

Nor is it a straight through process or a direct route. There are often many relapses, false turns, diversions and retreats. There is often a sinking sense of déjà vu, a feeling of being trapped on a Möbius strip inside the darkest recesses of your own mind. All to often, the light at the end of the tunnel is a mirage that flickers into non-resistance as I struggle towards it; only to have my hopes turned to despair again.

The road to recovery is strewn with rocks and pitted with potholes. It is a long and tiring journey that saps your strength and your determination to see it to its end.

I have been travelling this road for 30 years, and the end still seems no closer. Sometimes it seems further away than ever.

That is my journey along the long road to recovery.

ZeN

Black Holes & Revelations

Mind MattersUsually, a post on a Monday would carry a link to Kayla’s wonderful #MasturbationMonday page. Sadly, however, this is not one of those posts.

Once again, I have been down in the deepest of holes, where only the very faintest glimmer of light manages to penetrate.

My head, these last few days, has been the very darkest of places. The constant voice in my head has been particularly insistent.

It’s been a time of withdrawal, both online and in real life; a time to shut myself off in an attempt to drown out the nagging, pervasive internal voices that tell me I don’t want to be alive.

It’s dark, it’s oppressive and it is extremely lonely, even with friends and family surrounding me and supporting me. There is a desire, a yearning for the peace of oblivion and there is knowledge that such peace is beyond me, because I am not prepared to give up; for the benefit of those who love and care about me if not actually for myself.

It’s a daily struggle. It’s another battle being waged in a war that has already lasted three decades. It’s a game of hide and seek where the finder always knows where the hider is. It’s a game of chess where black always knows what move white is going to make.

It is painful, draining; exhausting of mind, body, soul and spirit. It is never ending. Being overly melodramatic, it is a cancer of the soul.

There can be no victory in this war.  The best I can ever truly hope for is an eternal stalemate of staving off the ultimate defeat.

As I say in my “About” page, it’s not all about the fun things like sex; sometimes, by necessity, this blog has a darker side where I can let such thoughts out into the light and challenge my demons in public.

If you came here simply for the smut, then I’m sorry this post won’t have been for you. If you have got this far, thank you for sticking with me.

ZeN

Word for Wednesday – Reflection

Reflection

/rɪˈflɛkʃən/
noun
  1. the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected
  2. careful or long consideration or thought

Reflection is almost inevitable at this time of year. We look back at the things that have happened and how they have affected us. We look forward to the coming year and what might be for both good and bad.

The start of the year, although completely arbitrary, is almost by default, a time of reflection.

In my last post of 2017, I looked back at the highs I had in terms of my return to blogging. In this, my first post of 2018, my thoughts turn, as they often do, to the topic of mental health.

Helpful Numbers #MentalHealthLike many people, I find the festive period particularly difficult. I won’t bore you with my specific reasons, but suffice to say that by the time the end of the holiday period finally rolls around, I am more than happy to see the back of it. It is the one holiday that simply through the sheer effort of enduring it, leaves me more worn out and exhausted, mentally, physically and spiritually at its end than I was at its beginning.

I mentioned before, that I do not suffer from Seasonally Affected Disorder, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there is a very specific “season” that I find particularly hard to bear.

Mind MattersEvery year, somewhere between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, I make a conscious decision whether or not I carry on. In doing so, I make a positive affirmation that, having made it through the year just gone by, I will give it my best endeavours to make it to the end of the year that is to come. It isn’t a promise; it is simply a statement of what I intend to achieve. If I manage to achieve anything else between now and the end of 2018 then that is a bonus. The only resolution I ever set myself is that I try not to spend every day of the forthcoming year regretting the decision I have made.

This has not been a very positive post; mainly because I am not in a very positive place. For me it is the time of my darkest reflections.

ZeN

A Confession

#MasturbationMondayI have a confession to make; something that I just have to get off my chest. I have a dreadful, awful secret that I can no longer keep to myself. I know what I am about to reveal will shock some of you on the grounds that:

  1. I am a sex-blogger; and
  2. I am a man

But I hope you will be able to see past my confession and support me.

So, here it is… *deep breath*

I can’t remember the last time I had a wank.

There, I’ve said it. I feel so much better now.

So what prompted this?

Well, partially it’s because it is, of course, a Monday, which means it’s time for Kayla’s fabulous #MasturbationMonday meme (in which, last week, Kayla did me the great honour of , using one of my photos for the prompt image). Then, today as I was scrolling back through some of my older material, I stumbled across this poll that the wonderful Girl on The Net ran:

Quick poll: how often do you wank? Assuming you’re not having partnered sex at the time.

Well, that finally tipped me over the edge (no, not like that, or I wouldn’t be writing this post, would I? Pay attention at the back there…)

I’ve written before about my “wanking style” but, the sad thing is, in terms of practising the technique, the frequency has dwindled to so rarely I could almost claim to be masturbatorly celibate.

So why is this?

I am sexually active. My penis does what it’s supposed to do when I have the “appropriate” company (although my orgasm can sometimes be a bit reticent). I have urges, I have desires, so why do I so rarely indulge in them?

The answer lies, in part, with the “orgasmic reticence” I just mentioned.

Mind MattersAs many of you are aware, I regularly from suffer very serious bouts of depression. I have been on anti-depressant medication continuously since 2004. My medication has no real effect on my sexual appetite, but it does sometimes mean that I find it difficult to climax. Now, this prolonged “staying-power” might be seen as some to be a blessing, but in some instances it can be downright frustrating. It doesn’t happen often, but there are times when I am having sex that, eventually, I’m forced to effectively give up. I get close, but it just doesn’t happen (yes, this does actually happen to guys too). It’s a rarity when I’m having sex with someone else, but it’s much more frequent when I’m taking myself “in hand”.

And that is the beginning of the slippery slope, as it were.

Like most people, I wank because (a) it feels good, and (b) I have a certain need for release. Sadly for me, while (a) still holds true, (b) is very seldomly achieved. This, in turn, increases frustration until the point where the pleasure obtained is pretty much neutralised by the frustration experienced. A vicious circle ensures where, instead of relieving frustration, wanking actually causes more frustration. It loses it pleasurable qualities and, to all intents and purposes, becomes more trouble and effort than it is worth.

That’s kind of where I am now and, as a result of that particular stroke of ill fortune, why the longest and most productive “sexual relationship” that I have ever had is now more a source of bitter-sweet memories rather than an active source of pleasure.

Kind of sucks to be me really.

ZeN

Going Dark

Mind MattersEvery now and then it becomes a necessity; there is a need to step away.  The blogging/twitter community is a wonderfully supportive group, but sometimes space is needed.

It’s not that unusual for me to shut myself off from the world periodically. My mood, and indeed my general personality, tend to mean that I prefer/require a degree of solitude.

Depression itself can be a very solitary condition. It has a tendency to focus thoughts, feelings and emotions in on sufferer’s sense of self. It leads us to withdraw, to shut ourselves off, to distance ourselves from those who care for us because we feel we are a burden, that our own pain brings those around us down.

When the black cloud descends, it is difficult to see beyond it. It seems impossible that anyone would want to have anything to do with us, let alone love/care for us; especially as we feel incapable of doing these things for ourselves. It can, and does, put a strain on friendships and relationships.

So once again, I find myself down in the darkest of depths, howling at the moon. Each day another battle in a war that ultimately only has one ending.

ZeN

 

Word for Wednesday – Dispassionate

Dispassionate

/dɪsˈpæʃənɪt/
adjective

  1. devoid of or uninfluenced by emotion or prejudice; objective; impartial

My daily job is one that requires me to be objective and impartial. I go to great lengths not to prejudge and to weigh up the evidence in front of me before I make a decision. On Saturdays, on the rugby field, I have to make those decisions instantly and without hesitation, applying the laws of the game fairly and consistently.

However, for this post, I am concentrating on the “devoid of or uninfluenced by emotion” part.

As is the case with so many of us who struggle with mental illness, I tend to wear a mask in my day-to-day dealing with my fellow humans. It is a mask that I tend to keep very firmly fixed in place.

To the outside world, it does perhaps seem that I am without emotion, cold, reserved, withdrawn.

Mind MattersIt is also true that I am not particularly given to, or indeed comfortable with, public displays of emotion. I have a tendency to have a very fixed demeanour in the company of others.

The dispassionate mask is, however, simply that; a mask. Far from being devoid of emotion, it hides a seething mass that lies just below the surface; a constant turmoil that threatens to boil over at the slightest provocation.

The absence of appearance of emotion and the absence of emotions themselves are two very separate things.

ZeN

Word for Wednesday – Dissociation

Dissociation

/dɪˌsəʊsɪˈeɪʃən; -ʃɪ-/
noun

  1. the act of dissociating or the state of being dissociated

It’s one of those strange feelings that, I suspect, many of us who suffer from depression and other forms of mental illness experience. It is an odd feeling of being separated from one’s self. It’s as though there is an actual gap between our spirit and our physical selves; a feeling that we don’t fully fill our physical bodies.

It’s an oddly disconnected feeling; that somewhere between my skin and my soul there is a black void of nothingness. It’s as if I am lost within a hollowed out shell of my own being.

Mind MattersIt is a form of detachment. Not of detachment from the outside world, which is all too common an experience, but a detachment of spirit and body, where the former retreats into the darkest recesses of the latter to hide away and lick its wounds.

ZeN

Word for Wednesday – Insular

Insular

/ˈɪnsjʊlə/
adjective

  1. of, relating to, or resembling an island
  2. remote, detached, or aloof
  3. isolated or separated

The English poet, John Donne, famously wrote in 1624:

No man is an iland

The modern version of this is, of course: “no man is an island”.

Now, this may be true, but for those of us who battle mental illness, the feelings of being remote, detached, isolated or separated from the rest of the world are all too frequent. All to often it is easier to simply draw ourselves away, shut ourselves off from the world rather than to explain why we are the way we are and feel the way we do. Even the most well intentioned enquiries as to our well-being can cause a rush of anxiousness that makes us retreat.

Mind MattersSometimes we do it because we cannot cope with the outside world. Sometimes we do it because we believe it’s better not to inflict ourselves upon others, especially those we love and care for the most.

We become reclusive, shunning contact from friends, family and loved ones just as much we avoid interaction with others. Our daily lives are lived behind walls of our own creation, walls that both protect and imprison; keeping the world safely at arm’s length outside, while shielding it from our pain.

We withdraw, we retreat, we hide away, we become insular.

ZeN

Nowhere To Hide

Mind MattersI am completely open about my illness. It is a part of me and, much as I would rather it were otherwise, it has played a major part in making me the person I am. It is such an ingrained part of me that I cannot even begin to imagine what life without it would be like. It never lets me forget. Even in those periods where I have the illusion of having it under some sort of control, when I am free from the worst symptoms, it is always there, lurking in the background, reminding me that it can return, without any warning at a time of its choosing.

Life is a daily battle. It’s a battle where the only “victory” to be had is to stave off total surrender and defeat. I know it’s a battle I can never win; the very best I can hope for is some soul-sapping rear-guard action – retreat, regroup, then retreat again.

It is tiring. Not just a physical tiredness, but an emotional tiredness, a spiritual tiredness; a tiredness that burrows its way into your very core.

There is no escape, nowhere to hide. There can be no hiding from your own mind. You are battling an enemy that knows everything about you, that knows your every weakness and how to exploit them. It’s an enemy that intimately knows every flaw in your character and can use them against you.

The darkness is real. You turn away from those who care about you because you are a burden and they deserve better than to have to put up with you.

At its worst, it is all-consuming; it’s not that you have depression, it is that you ARE depressed – depression has you. It becomes a whole body illness; physical as well as mental.

In my case, I find it hard to sleep, I lose my appetite, I lose my libido, I suffer headaches. In the worst cases, it has been known to manifest itself by giving me dental abscesses and then there are the violent tremors that afflict my right arm.

When the tsunami of depression hits, there is nothing really that can be done other than just go where it takes you. Trying to defy it is futile. Fighting it simply wears you down faster.

And that’s where I am just now. I am in the darkness. I am still falling. Getting to the end of each day doesn’t even feel like a win, it is just a statement of the fact that I am still here, and tomorrow the onslaught will begin again.

Every day, every hour, every moment is a battle in this on-going civil war of attrition inside my mind.

Respite is scarce. There is nowhere to hide from yourself.

ZeN