Monday, Jan 31, 2011 7:01 PM UTC

I choose sanity over sex

I used to be crazy in bed -- and everywhere else. Now that I'm on antidepressants, my wanton abandon is gone

I choose sanity over sex

I’m a fan of Sasha Grey. She’s inspired a lot of my photographic work. I also like her because she seems to have a great sense of humor (in one of her movies she has sex with a man in a bear-mascot costume). I must have some, too, to deal with my peculiar dilemma. So I’m a fan. And I’m also a fan of pornography in general, but lately I don’t watch smut that much, period.

I’m on antidepressants. 

I’ve been on them for some time and they’re more effective than the Net Nanny when it comes to limiting the time you spend seeking adult content online. Incidentally, I don’t seek sex all that much either. I mean, I have it and it’s good but if I stopped having it, I’d probably forget about it.

In a recent piece for Salon, Tracy Clark-Flory interviewed people about how antidepressants affected their sex lives. I worry about the 25-year-old photographer who stopped taking his happy pills because, he said, it wasn’t worth the side effects. But I’m envious that he has the balls (pun intended) to forgo his sanity to satisfy the urge to frolic and fornicate.

I’m also envious of Sasha Grey, or rather of women that I imagine her to be like — not necessarily porn stars but women who have high libidos and prefer sex to chocolate, not the other way around. Because when I was younger and so-called crazy, I was full of that abandon. Chocolate could go and fornicate itself in favor of a good lay.

Ever since I can remember I loved sex. I found my parents’ secret copy of Marquis de Sade’s ”Justine” before I’d even kissed a boy. That book horrified me but also confirmed that what I had already glimpsed from the windows of local sex shops, quickly changed TV channels and something I had once seen in a public shower at the pool. There was some wacky sex stuff out there.

I grew up and moved out and was (almost) always lucky enough to find partners who liked to have sex. A lot. Over the years, I had revisited all those formerly taboo places. I was never into watching pornography together but I never had to hide it. I spent a lot of time thinking about sex and having it.

At the same time I was also growing a bit (OK, a lot) depressed. I struggled with anxiety and an eating disorder. So someone eventually suggested antidepressants. And lo and behold, with longer and shorter breaks in between them, I went through the alphabet of happy pills, finally settling on good old Prozac.

One side effect of antidepressants is a lower sex drive. My libido didn’t decrease over night. Not even over 365 nights. It took a while but I can safely say that I’ve arrived at a sort of — for me — sexual inertia. This means that I sleep-sleep at least three nights a week. That may be fine for you but it’s not fine for us, me and my lover.

Theoretically. For me, actually, it’s becoming kind of fine. My lover and I talk about this a lot and I would feel really broken up about it … if I could only feel properly broken up.

But if I could feel properly broken up about it, I’d probably be really, really broken up. I’d be so broken up, I’d possibly be broken for good. And my lover — having been with me for almost a decade now — knows this about me. He’s been there when I wouldn’t leave the house for long stretches of time, when I threw my bicycle into the street in the fit of rage or when I sat in the room for hours and cried for no reason.

Me: “Would you rather more sex, but with a crazy devil?”

Him: “No, I’d rather less sex.”

We had this conversation just the other day. Because I do go through periods when I mourn my high libido and do feel somewhat broken up about it, and guilty, even — perhaps unreasonably — guilty for deceiving my lover into thinking that I was wild and crazy in bed when he met me. Maybe I was — either way, the crazy sort of carried over past the bedroom so he supports curbing it.

I can stop taking my pills and try some alternative methods (hitting head against the wall, board games, nature) to curb the craziness inside me, but why? It’s not like the pills have robbed me of my ability to see or hear. I can still come even though it’s not as intense, and once in a while I even do stupid things like take my pills every other day because I imagine — placebo effect or not — that it brings back that spark that I’m missing. But then this also means sitting with my heart in my throat at the end of the day and who needs that? So I don’t do it often.

I’m reminded of former sexual thrills when I see someone like Sasha Grey (though lately I see her popping up in the mainstream, which is what I’m mostly interested in these days). And, yes, I realize that she’s probably got her demons and who knows, maybe even conquers them with happy pills. And even though I wouldn’t trade the peace of mind for the sexual abandon, I still miss it.