Any tips? Sex and mental illness

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-09-2010
Any tips? Sex and mental illness
17
Tue, 02-09-2010 - 6:58pm

Heya,

I've been watching these forums for a long time and finally got the guts to post. I know you guys are pretty upfront and brutally honest but please go easy on me.

My problem is that I've had severe depression all my life and, as a result, no libido. I've tried a majority of the medications on the market and had stints of being on none for a long time too, and as a result I've found that it must be the actual depression itself that's stopped me from having a libido. At first I wasn't really concerned about it, I guess because I've had partners where it was just a physical thing, not emotional. And it was fun, because I was not aware of this "emotions associated with sex" thing.

Now I am going out with a guy (well, we've been together 2 years) and since we started, he's sort of shown me how there ARE emotions in sex. I was quite dumbfounded at this - my parents or friends never told me this and we never learnt that at school! So I've been looking it up on the web and its like everyone knew except me.. lol. I was shocked, but happy about it - it's a good concept. I always thought the idea of "making love" was just an old fashioned romantic type thing. But its true!

But before you go and blast me about that.. I kinda think that maybe since I had depression all my life, my "receptors" to that kinda thing are somehow turned off. So even though people were "making love" to me, I just couldn't feel it. Or something along those lines. I would really like to experience having emotions during sex, instead of it just being physical. My current boyfriend is really good like this.. he is all in it for emotions and intimacy, etc.. I never really understood it until now. I asked him about it and he said he can't have sex WITHOUT emotions. Which is good cause he is very loving and I think it would be great having sex like this.

So I guess I have one question in particular. I'm going to a certain type of psychotherapy to address the core issues of my depression and its looking good. What I want to know is, how can I make sex good for him in an emotional way until I am a bit better and can participate in this manner? Until my "receptors" come back online, so to speak? He's been upset about sex a lot but I never understood until I found out about this emotions thing. Now I get it and I feel slack for putting him through it.. so I want to make some sort of change to make it good for him. We do all the other intimacy things like cuddling, spooning in bed, deep talks, etc, but he said the only intimacy that counts (for him) is in the bedroom. We do have sex a few times a week unless he is angry at me about it, but even then we will just have a break for a week and then get back into it. Even though I have no libido I still do stuff with him and try to make it enjoyable for him and don't groan about it. He seems to have a good time but he says the emotions are lacking, and I also think it upsets him that I can't get turned on. I understand that everyone (except me apparently, lol) has needs so I want to fulfil his needs and make him happy.

So I guess I would like to know if there is some middle ground here? I know psychotherapy can be a long, arduous process but I'd like to do something starting now, something to get him through until I can do the emotions thing for real. I can understand his point of view, it's just that there is no switch I can just turn on and everything will magically be better. And yes, he is aware of all that I've just stated. I guess he is just frustrated that what comes naturally for most people is not there with me (and I am frustrated too!). And it really gets to him that I can't orgasm with him - I have told him I've never orgasmed with anyone but myself but he still takes it really personally. And now I can understand why.

So yeah.. any ideas? :)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-10-2009
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 6:40am

I don't know if I can help at all, and feel it very unlikely you'll get any brutality here.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2007
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 11:20am

He seems to have a good time but he says the emotions are lacking, and I also think it upsets him that I can't get turned on...I guess he is just frustrated that what comes naturally for most people is not there with me (and I am frustrated too!).


I'm an HL and I'm rather mystified by these statements. What is it he wants you to do or say before, during or after sex that would show him that you're getting some emotional charge out of it? Does your face reflect discomfort or fear? Are you not achieving orgasm and he can tell? Are you just not very eager to engage in sex or to talk about it? Is it that you don't engage in the post-sex wrap-up talk with him?


I guess I'm wondering what would happen if you attempted to fake an emotional experience during sex (as opposed to faking an orgasm). For me, personally, sex causes me to feel an emotional bond and a sense of acceptance. Other than a reluctance to engage and a look of discomfort or complete neutrality on her face during sex, or some negative comment about it before, during or after, I really can't think of anything that would diminish the experience for me in the realm of "emotional engagement".


Do you understand what he's saying or are you as stumped as I am?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2004
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 12:48pm

<>

I do understand, having experienced a complete lack of emotional engagement from my DW during sex. She really didn't understand that it should or even could be different. Her past experiences had left her feeling no emotional connection associated with sex.

Fortunately for us, that changed significantly. It took many months of intimate conversations, deep discussions, and some very heated arguments. During the process, I often felt more like a therapist to her than a partner. It would have been a much easier process had we involved a good therapist.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-04-2006
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 1:06pm

So she now feels an emotional component to sex? Or she manages to appease your need for her emotional engagement in some way? What is different about it now, vs when she wasn't engaged?

I'm just curious, because I've never felt this enormous emotional connection along with sex, and don't believe I ever will, and am wondering how that could even be brought about.

roo and snowy siggie
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2004
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 2:31pm

She absolutely does now. There wasn't any one specific thing that triggered the change in her but rather a combination of factors, I believe:

- She feels safer being vulnerable with me, in general. She is not as afraid of being judged or criticized.

She was also afraid that I would think less of her if she was sexual because she had always thought less of herself when she had been sexual in the past. There was definitely a part of her that believed that sex was wrong and dirty and she couldn't overcome that completely just because we were married.

- She's accepted that she is responsible for her own sexuality. I'm there to enhance it, not own it or control it.

- She is able to let go of control during sex, though this is still a work in progress.

For example, it is still hard for her to let me make her orgasm even when it it imminent. Our routine now is for her to finish herself off with a vibrator as part of foreplay.

- She is more present in the moment during sex as far as being able to relax and stop her brain from wandering too much during sex.

To this end, we try to incorporate things that help us both switch gears and get into the mood like lingerie, candles, music, etc.

I definitely notice the difference in her now. She tells me -- and I can observe it directly in her behavior -- that she feels closer to me after we have sex. It truly has become "making love" rather than just having sex.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-04-2006
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 2:58pm

Hm...interesting. I can let go of control, be in the moment, and feel vulnerable, have many orgasms at the end of either person's anatomy, and still not feel any "emotional connection" regarding the sex. It's still just sex to me. I don't feel any closer to the person afterward, except in a "cool, we just did something great" sort of team player way. I definitely don't get the whole "making love" vs "having sex" thing....never have understood exactly.

It's good that you guys were able to get on the same page about this though. That's what's important. To that end, I think DH is starting to learn to appreciate "having sex" without the need for "love" in it, so maybe we will get on the same page from the opposite side as you and your DW, who knows.

roo and snowy siggie
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2007
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 3:39pm
What are the observable signs of emotional engagement? Is it identifiable by what the person says about it or something else? Can emotional engagement be faked?
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2004
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 5:36pm

<>

I'm sure it could be faked but she is not that good of an actress and I can read her emotions very, very easily.

(Too easily actually. In some sense, I feel emotionally entangled with her to a somewhat unhealthy degree. That's something I'm working on. But that's another subject altogether.)

Basically, it's this sense of peacefulness, contentedness, and connectedness, I suppose. Behavior-wise, she is much more inclined to show other types of affection afterwards: more kissing, more hugs, more touching. She is also "nicer" and more tolerant. There is an increased "softness" to her where is normally a bit more "rough".

These signs apply to me as well. I respond in a similar manner.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-09-2010
Thu, 02-11-2010 - 8:14pm

Heya, thanks for the reply :)

It's not that I want to FAKE the emotional experience. I guess I'm wondering (and forgive me because I'm new to this emotions-during-sex-thing) what is it that a person does with you during sex that gives you satisfaction emotionwise? He knows I do enjoy it and find it fun, try to do things he enjoys all the time, but he does notice that I don't really display anything emotionally during it. I think he's looking for a deeper connection there than just "having fun". I've asked him this kinda stuff but he says its not something you can just put into words, which I can understand.

I suppose its hard to understand unless you've been there yourself but when you are severely depressed, its like you go numb mentally and all the emotional signals you normally get from other people just don't register. To you they just aren't there. Now I know that they actually are there, I just wondered if there's any way I can show/tell/something I can do to show my boyfriend during sex that he does satisfy me and i love him, etc. He knows I don't orgasm so that rules that one out. But there has to be another way, right? I have always had great fun having sex with him so there have been no instances of me lying there like a blowupdoll with a sour look on my face or anything. I'm always enthusiastic about trying new things, etc but obviously theres something emotional that i'm missing.

I was reading another thread and someone mentioned about how his wife giving him a look of "you're welcome" or something along those lines really made him feel good. If you're reading this, can you explain it? It sounds like something I am interested doing.

Hopefully after a few months of therapy (which involves me finding out who I am etc), I will find out what I like and don't like sexually, so it will be more of me just being honest, I guess. And I hope than then this emotional connection thing just kinda comes naturally (and I hope I end up with that "need" for sex that most people have). I just need something in the interim to show him that I do want him sexually, emotionally, etc.

I apologise if this doesn't make much sense. :)

Avatar for holdingontoit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-02-2004
Fri, 02-12-2010 - 9:34am

>>>>> He knows I don't orgasm so that rules that one out. <<<<<


I think we have hit on the core issue.

When you see it coming, duck!

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