Whither Joy

 

My German doctor has prescribed me one tablet a day- the same 40mg in the morning. I wash it down with the first sip from a large glass of water into which I then dissolve a soluble Vitamin D3 tab, a self- care hack of which I’m enormously proud. In England I took two capsules of 20 mg each, and, other than the bitter minty flavour, the only difference resulting from the change of delivery is that I have pretty much entirely lost my orgasm.

 

For months I have lamented the loss of spontaneous arousal that Prozac inflicts. This ain’t my first rodeo with SSRIs- I knew what I was in for and wasnt going to go out without a fight. After six months on the pills I had got to the point where, if I put my mind to it (without fixating) and committed to the task I could make myself come. It would take longer to get from taxi to takeoff, granted- sometimes nearly half an hour of determinedly gentle digital cajoling- but I got there in the end. I no longer wanked daily, and the whole affair was a bit of a palaver, but the machine was still ticking over, albeit more quietly than normal.

 

But now, since I changed brands… well, it’s like stone down there. Gentle strokes of my unresponsive clit turn to impatient pounding with gritted teeth, and there’s precious little arousal, spontaneous or otherwise. Masturbation has become a thing I do in order to prove I can still in fact masturbate; it’s profoundly not sexy.

 

It’s happened. Prozac has entirely mugged me of my orgasm and libido both, and I’m quietly furious about it.

 

The whole situation might not be so bad if I was at least still writing, but I don’t. Or not about sex anyway. I sit in cafes, the kind with low wooden tables and mid- century light fixtures and Prenzlauerberg types in polo necks, tapping on their laptops whilst sipping their Americanos, and I write: I describe the light fixtures and the coffee and the polo necks, telling myself that if I carry on writing about the things that surround me then one day, when I want to have sex again, I will be able to write about all those sweet internal things that beg to inhabit the page when I’m wandering the world in a state of quiet erotic activation.

 
For me erotic energy is creative energy; when I’m turned on my hyperactive brain stills and quiets and I am in touch with fragrances and sounds and textures. I crave sensation and then naturally want to translate the sensation into words. That’s how this whole sex blogging thing had been working: writing about fucking made me horny, so I had sex, which I then wrote about, which made me horny… It became a beautiful feedback loop.

 

But the anti- depressants have had the same effect on my writing mojo as they have on my libido. I read back what I’ve written, and the results are listless, shallow and disjointed. It’s fucking depressing. The irony is that SSRIs render two of my favourite activities less enjoyable than depression does.

 

Anti- depressants work because they build a protective barrier between you and your feelings (I say ‘you’ and ‘your’- I mean me and my, obviously). That’s the point of them- that’s what they’re for. The painful thing about anti- depressants is that they build protective barrier between you and your feelings- feelings of eroticism, intrigue, sensual connection. As a writer I want to feel stuff hard; it’s okay that I am over- sensitive and self- obsessed and hyperfocussed on minutiae. As I writer I want to be in the world, sucking it up and soaking it in and spitting it out. And I can’t be in the world, really in it, up to my knees; the pills won’t let me. They’re supposed to protect me from the feelings I can’t handle- but they’re also protecting my from the feelings that I don’t want to live without.

 

I have struggled all my life to find a version of myself that felt attractive, sexy, enticing. I knew she was around somewhere, I’d carried a picture of her in my mind for so long. She didn’t become real until I had clothes for her to wear, though, or words to describe her.

 

And then suddenly- finally, after years of searching- I found the words: kinky. Filthy. Masochist. Submissive. Slut. I wrote the words like a spell, and in a puff of smoke, there she was- all red lips and spread legs and fat, impudent nipples, grinning and grabbing, letting herself be groped, fingered, marked, made use of in dark corners and enjoyed for an consenting audience. She- I- was made readily available and, like a true slut, relished the degree to which supply increased demand. Being that slut was me playing a role and simultaneously being absolutely myself, and that contradiction made me feel incontrovertibly alive.

 

________________________

 

I want to buy a new dress with a tight bodice, a dress that shows off a little bit of cleavage and the span of my belly and hips. I want glowing skin and bouncing curls and smiling eyes. I could desperately do with a haircut and need to shave my legs and underarms- they’re overgrown and mossy, I think, and out of nowhere I imagine an attractive chair sitting rainsoaked and abandoned in an uncared- for garden.

 

I want eroticism to be something I feel and wear and carry again, a thing do that I do, something that takes me over when I’m sitting on the bus and walking through town on a dark November evening. I want the smell of burning leaves to make think of one hand on my throat and another between my legs- I want that one bassline of that one song to set off a craving for warm breath and an unknown body, to hear the determined rhythm of my boots on the concrete paving stones louder than the music, louder than the thump of my lonely heart.

 

Instead I smell bonfires and listen to podcasts where Podcasty men talk in Podcasty voices about the internet. I get on the UBahn and I get off the UBahn, not before dropping a twenty cent piece into a styrofoam cup to thank a middle- aged busker for singing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ (a song that I have always hated) in a timbre that makes me feel… something. I drink coffee and write aimlessly about midcentury light fixtures. Increasingly often I wonder if it might soon be feasible to wean myself off the Prozac, whether I’m at the stage where the angst caused by losing my libido counteracts the effects of the medication anyway.

 

I can’t go on like this. I miss dancing topless in fetish clubs, and dressing up, and being a plaything. I miss orgasms and pain, inhabiting my body, dressing it in stockings and suspenders and peekaboo bras. I hate not feeling desirable or available, I miss my slutty kinky alter ego. I miss Joy.

 

7 Replies to “Whither Joy“

  1. Exquisite writing, such a talent you have. While the subject is an unhappy one, the desire to be that Joy again comes through plain and clear – I hope you one day rediscover her.

  2. New reader, but I completely recognise your symptoms: I’m a long term venlafaxine user and my libido feels like it was locked in a box years ago, and the key long since lost.

    Keep your chin up. Your writing style is spectacular and I’m envious of your capacity in it.

    1. I’m hoping that I can try Wellbutrin now I’m in Germany- it’s not prescribed for depression in the UK, I dont think. And thank you very much!

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