Today our heroines are Anna* (26 years old), Vika (23) and Svetlana (28).
Anya and Vika are free, Sveta has a boyfriend with whom they have been together for 4 years.
How old were you when you were first diagnosed with depression?
Vika: 21 – that’s when I was first taken to the doctor. In fact, I’ve suffered from depression since high school.
How much does depression affect your sex life?
A .: When I have a period of severe depression, I do not want anything. I’m sad, I sleep for days, I cry a lot, so I don’t have time for sex. When I have a mild depressive background (about 40 percent of the time), I try to distract myself with something – and at this time I am more interested in sex, because I like it.
B.: She completely influences her. Before I started taking medication, I had severe mood swings. On the rise, I was ready to sleep with anyone who moves and has a dick. When I felt bad, I was still drawn to someone, but always – to someone inappropriate (for example, to married men) to fill the void or experience relief. Now I’m on pills, I’m better, but I still have bad days and my libido is low.
S .: Yes, depression greatly affects my sex life. My depression and anxiety go hand in hand, and most of the time I feel too tired or stressed out to think about my sex life. I know my meds have a big effect on my libido, and since I’ve been on them since I was a teenager, I often think that my sexuality might have developed differently if I hadn’t taken all these pills for the past 15 years.
How do you think treatment for depression affects your sex life?
A .: I have been taking antidepressants since the age of 18, when I just started to have an active sex life, so it’s hard to say how it affected me. I know it takes forever for me to have an orgasm and I think it has to do with the drugs I’m taking, but I didn’t want to refuse treatment so I just waved my hand.
V: Completely. I haven’t had sex for three months, and I blame it on the drugs I recently started taking, because before I started taking them, this did not happen to me. Recently I met a guy, came to him – and experienced zero desire. This is so unlike me.
S: It’s hard to say, because I started taking pills at 14, three years before I started having sex. I know it certainly affects my sex life because I have a very low urge, but it has always been that way.
How often do you have sex?
A: At every opportunity! Usually once a month, because I’m single, and a lot depends on how I manage to find someone, and not just how often I want.
V .: Except for the last few months (when I changed the drug), this happened two or three times a month.
S .: Rarely, maybe once every four to six weeks. I know my boyfriend would prefer more, but he respects me and tries to be understanding when I don’t want to. Before, it wasn’t a problem at all because it’s my first time in a long-term relationship and my first time living with someone.
How often do you masturbate?
A: About once a week.
B: Before, about once a week. Now – almost never, hardly even once a month.
S: Literally never. I have only tried it once in my life.
Do you have a favorite sex position or method?
A: No, I don’t care.
V .: I love cunnilingus, because then I do not have to look into his eyes. When his face is occupied by my intimate places, I don’t have to worry about what impression I make, whether I’m beautiful, I don’t have to pretend how much I enjoy. In addition, I look good in this angle and can mess around. Sheer benefit.
S .: The easiest way for me is “doggystyle” – no eye contact, no unnecessary emotions, and he tries to finish as soon as possible. Many times, sadly, I caught myself having sex to please him, even though I myself wanted to get off as soon as possible. My boyfriend doesn’t know how I feel and he never will because it opens Pandora’s box. He is very attentive to me and always says that he wants to bring me to orgasm, but I feel uncomfortable from his care, so I try to turn my attention to him and please him.
Do you think sex improves your mood?
A.: Yes. Anything constructive lifts my spirits, especially if it’s something physical.
V: Yes, absolutely. I relax, become less tense and able to think more clearly.
S: I have a bit of an ambivalent attitude. I don’t like to take the initiative in sex, and often I agree reluctantly when my boyfriend starts kissing me and saying nice things. When we have sex, I like it, but after it I feel pretty neutral.
Can sex ruin your mood?
A: It didn’t happen.
V .: Sex itself – never, but some sexual episodes made me understand that I no longer want to be with this person. I generally prefer casual sex, it makes me feel more powerful and desirable.
C: Like it or not… I just have sex with my boyfriend and then I go back to the feelings I had before sex.
Question for singles: do you have difficulty with casual relationships?
A.: No. I had a serious relationship for five years, but five years ago it ended. Since then, casual relationships have been the norm for me.
V .: Because of the drugs, they no longer appeal to me. I would like to, but I can’t.
Have you ever told your partner about your depression before having sex?
V .: I could mention the fact that I am depressed or on antidepressants, but I did not conduct any detailed conversations on this topic.
S .: With former partners – no. At the very beginning of my relationship with my boyfriend, it happened several times that I burst into tears during sex, and after that we started talking about my depression, but I did not warn him before sex. He was very good at comforting me and went out of his way to understand when I explained the situation.
How do your partners deal with the effects of your depression on your sex life?
A .: One of my ex struggled with my depression, because it affected my libido. He said, “Well, you’ve been depressed the whole time we’ve been together, but we’ve had more sex.” He suggested that there was less sex because I didn’t love him the way I used to, and maybe he was right. We were having relationship problems and it was hard to tell if I didn’t want to have sex because of depression or because I was emotionally distant from him.
V .: Only two knew, and it turned them on. I think they thought they had to try harder to impress me as the Nesmeyana princess, and I liked that.
S: He’s definitely not happy about it. He tries to be understanding about my depression in general and why it lowers my libido, but it’s very difficult for him because he’s never really been depressed. On top of that, he’s been cheated on before, and I’m afraid he sometimes thinks that if we don’t have sex, then I’ll do it with someone else, although this is clearly not the case.
And I have to comfort him, when in fact it’s me – the one who needs comfort. We have already said that the concept of “enough sex” for each person and each couple is different, and my lack of sexual desire really has nothing to do with him and with my feelings for him. I remind him that my reluctance to have sex is not due to how much I love him and how attached to him, but to my internal problems.
What do you think is the most stupid myth about the sex life of people suffering from depression?
A .: That we do not want sex, that we are not sexual people. I may want sex, I may not. The state is different, and if I feel bad now, this does not mean that I am not a sexual person in general.
V .: People think that if you have depression, you are not interested in anything at all, including sex. Sometimes it happens, but I think about sex a lot, I love it and I want it to happen more often.
C.: That we don’t have an intimate life or that we don’t care about it. Exciting and my depression is exacerbated by worry that I’m not trying hard enough and that my low libido is taking a toll on my boyfriend.
What advice would you give to other people suffering from depression who are trying to have an active sex life?
A: Mental health is more important than anything else. If you don’t care about sex, don’t have it. Your partner must understand you. And yet, no one bothers you to look for motivation for yourself to get off the couch and stretch out properly. Treat sex like exercise. It’s great if you can do it (but don’t let anyone pressure you for the wrong reasons). Hold on, because you’re still a beautiful, sexy being, and you can’t let depression take that away from you.
V .: Find that person who is ready to go through all the difficulties with you, because sometimes it is not easy.
S: Honestly, it’s very difficult, but I always try to remind myself that everything in the world requires effort. And when I manage to overcome myself, it turns out that it is pleasant – I should only allow myself to enjoy.
* Names changed