You and your carrots can FUCK RIGHT OFF!

I take antidepressants. Two of them actually. Every day. Morning and night. Do you want to know why? They get me out of bed and they get me into life. They are my flashlight and my high-vis jacket, my survival tools in my ongoing battle against the dense, grey fog that surrounds my brain. I use them to break free from the confusion and stride towards the road ahead, flagging a little from the exertion perhaps, but seeing the way forward and powering on without fear. 

So tell me I’m the pharmaceutical industry’s bitch. Tell me I’m weak. Tell me your story about how you cured yourself using only glo-sticks and cucumbers. Go on….I dare you! 

It seems to me that there is a counter-productive and dangerous trend emerging. A trend towards distancing oneself from the “weak ones”, i.e. those brainwashed by the pharma industry and too feeble-minded to even know it. Those who seek to medicate. Those who gladly hand over their hard-earned cash for the sweet relief of psychopharmaceutical intervention.

Depression survival has emerged from the shameful shadows of it’s past, to a time when it’s acceptable for it to be worn like a badge of honour. Honour being defined as having overcome “that nasty episode” by channeling your inner strength. And vegetables. And vitamin shakes. And jogging. And hypnosis. And whatever other bullshit you want to peddle as long as it doesn’t come in pill form. Or have to be dispensed by a person in a white coat.

It seems pretty clear to me that none of the following are acceptable responses to an article where somebody has BRAVELY publicly declared their mental health difficulties:

  • The pharma industry makes a trillion bazillion dollars every year from people dependent on anti-depressants and it’s all a big ruse and you are just part of it you sad bastard
  • My mother’s cousin’s sister had depression and then she went jogging every day and now she is fine and owns a ferrari
  • I thought I was depressed but then I realised it was my lifestyle, so I cut out all gluten, sugar, alcohol and liquids and now, living on sunflower seeds alone, my life has never been better

And yet every day I read these inane comments. The discussion turns away from the bravery of the author, the stigma meaning we even need to label the author as such and the ways in which “normal” people can better understand and help those of us in difficulty. Instead, we turn in on ourselves and we ostracize those who medicate and we criticise their choices, with each person trying to outdo the other to tell the anecdote that *proves* the non-medicinal way is best. And we need to STOP. We need to stop right now. How can we expect the world to stop judging us when we can’t even stop judging ourselves?

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You and your carrots can FUCK RIGHT OFF!

Lets Talk About Sex…!

I feel like I know you guys well enough now to pull up a cocktail, kick off my shoes & indulge in a good ol’ chat about “sexy time”. There’s a point in every good friendship where someone broaches the topic of sexuality and the reaction of the other person determines the relationship forevermore. A shared laugh makes a sex-friend for life, one who you can tell your funny “vibrator in my handbag on the tube” stories to. An embarrassed silence puts that friend firmly in the “hobbies & shopping chats only” file. And maybe you might wait a week or so to call them again. So lets jump right in and see where we end up!

You’ve made it past the first hurdle. Your partner lovingly caught your hand as you walked down the street, or caressed your neck from behind while you were cooking dinner. Whatever the trigger, you’ve made it all the way to the bedroom (or couch, or balcony, or…ahem, I digress!). You can feel the tingle in your “special place”. That football shirt your partner is wearing is suddenly as sexy as anything worn by Colin Firth in Pride & Prejudice and you are the sexiest woman alive. Bow-chica-wow-wow! Forget the FHM 100 list cos they ain’t got nothin’ on you right now. You strip off your “round-the-house” leggings and hell, you might even leave a light on tonight (dimmed of course…let’s not get too carried away). For a moment in time you’re the star of your very own porno (a classy one, well scripted) and with a twirl of your nipple tassels you turn expectantly to the door as a stranger enters. The third participant in your sexy party has arrived. He saunters into the scene with a sly grin on his face and a swagger in his step. You take a moment to regroup, to register his presence, to assess the situation. And faster than you can say “lube me up” you’re launched slap bang into the middle of your very own farce. The score changes from “I wanna sex you up” to “Ice Ice Baby” and as the rose-tinted glasses are ripped from your eyes you see your surroundings for what they are. No porno movie. No fancy lighting. No FHM Top 100 model. Just you, hairy legs and stained t-shirt, straddling your partner in your untidy room with the cobweb on the ceiling. Mr D. Pression has arrived.

Yes, I want to talk about sex, but more specifically I want us to talk about that all-too-common and not-so-understood side effect of being a tiny bit crazy: sexual dysfunction.

Antidepressants are not known for their sexy qualities. SSRI, SNRI, MAOI….whatever you’re taking, none of them add up to S.E.X. They murder your libido and if abstinence could reverse virginity, well we’d be the purest damn people on the planet. For men getting or maintaining an erection can be impossible and for women, well lets just say the Sahara should remain a desert in Africa. And probably most insultingly of all, should you miraculously make your way over all of the hurdles, with your end goal in sight, so close you can almost touch it….almost….almost….almost….ooooooohhhhh bloody hell…..nothing! Anorgasmia is the final insult in our tale of woe. And the evil doesn’t stop there, it can continue even after you no longer take them. The wisdoms at Wikipedia tell us:

Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD) is a name given to a reported iatrogenic sexual dysfunction caused by the previous use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. While apparently uncommon, it can last for months, years, or sometimes indefinitely after the discontinuation of SSRIs. It may represent a specific subtype of SSRI discontinuation syndrome. This condition has not been well-established or studied in the field of medicine.

Indefinitely?! Are you frickin’ kidding me?! Any why is it that the condition has not been well established or studied? I am often struck by how sparse any real, helpful medical information on sexual side effects is while at the same time being bowled over by the sheer volume of anecdotal evidence on the topic (i.e. patient forums, questions on google, etc.). Not to mention how unhelpful medical advice is. Don’t get me started on the article that advised me to “schedule your sexual activity to occur before you take your medication”. I question why this imbalance exists. Are we ashamed to admit that we are having sexual difficulties? Are we suffering through the very worst type of “keeping up with the Joneses” phenomenon? In this day and age it’s hard to believe that so many of us feel that we shouldn’t prioritise our sexual selves. That if we are mentally well and our medication is working we somehow don’t have the right to complain because we don’t feel sufficiently lustful. Would we be more likely to express ourselves about side effects such as heart palpitations, fainting or low blood pressure?

I am a (physically) healthy 30 year old woman in a relationship with a kick-ass bloke. I fancy him. I am confident that he finds me at least a bit attractive (he assures me that he does in fact want to have sex with me). I know that I want to have sex with him. I just can’t seem to get my mind to play along. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me complaining about that.

Lets Talk About Sex…!

Can’t Go, Won’t Go

I spend a lot of my time convincing myself that I really do want to leave the house & socialise. I remind myself it’s my illness talking when I say I don’t want to go. So when I’m actually looking forward to leaving the house & something else gets in the way I seriously resent it.

For the last two days I’ve had the most painful headache. Not a headache actually, more like a skull & brain ache. It hurts to use my eyes, to close my eyes, to lie down, to stand up, to be awake, to sleep….you get the idea.

Today I have a social event and as I sit here having gotten dressed nicely, done my hair and covered myself in SPF 50 all I want to do is go home and crawl under my duvet. And it’s not my brains fault this time. Well, okay it is my brain….but it’s not my Mind! And boy do I resent it. Sometimes it feels like I can’t win. Just as one part of me plays the game of life another part of me throws a tantrum.

Like a child I want to stomp my feet and shout “not fair not fair”. Except doing that would hurt my stupid brain.

Can’t Go, Won’t Go

Rats Don’t Get Depression – Do They?

Can you be against animal testing while pharmacologically stupefied? The thought struck me this morning as I noted during my daily dosing that I need to restock my cruelty-free supplements, which means a bus trip to a specific health store.

I guess some people would call my activities hypocritical. I eat meat. I wear leather shoes. I don’t try to convince my friends to adopt my way of thinking. I won’t wear fur however, and I try to buy only cosmetics and household products made by reputable cruelty-free companies. This is not the post to get on my “why the Body Shop is especially evil” soapbox, but anyone who’s ever mentioned them to me has never made the mistake twice! I am generally pretty happy with where I sit on the food chain but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that the animals we use for human gain shouldn’t be treated with dignity and without pain and suffering.

However, as my daily survival depends entirely on an industry not know for it’s animal loving ways, I find myself in somewhat of a moral dilemma. The pharmaceutical companies to which I owe my mental stability are not generally commended for lulling baby rabbits to sleep while gently apply exploratory ointment to their ears. Or for providing tasty treats to rats who have been dosed, ever so gently and with full informed consent, with high levels of anti-psychotics.

Are my mental health problems making me a hypocritical, animal-torturer?

Rats Don’t Get Depression – Do They?

Rats Don’t Get Depression – Do They?

Can you be against animal testing while pharmacologically stupefied? The thought struck me this morning as I noted during my daily dosing that I need to restock my cruelty-free supplements, which means a bus trip to a specific health store.

I guess some people would call my activities hypocritical. I eat meat. I wear leather shoes. I don’t try to convince my friends to adopt my way of thinking. I won’t wear fur however, and I try to buy only cosmetics and household products made by reputable cruelty-free companies. This is not the post to get on my “why the Body Shop is especially evil” soapbox, but anyone who’s ever mentioned them to me has never made the mistake twice! I am generally pretty happy with where I sit on the food chain but that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that the animals we use for human gain shouldn’t be treated with dignity and without pain and suffering.

However, as my daily survival depends entirely on an industry not know for it’s animal loving ways, I find myself in somewhat of a moral dilemma. The pharmaceutical companies to which I owe my mental stability are not generally commended for lulling baby rabbits to sleep while gently apply exploratory ointment to their ears. Or for providing tasty treats to rats who have been dosed, ever so gently and with full informed consent, with high levels of anti-psychotics.

Are my mental health problems making me a hypocritical, animal-torturer?

Rats Don’t Get Depression – Do They?