I don’t feel like it

There are lots of things I could be doing, but I don’t feel like it.

I’ve been writing this and that. I have lots of drafts, both older and current, and I still have ideas of things to write about. But I usually run out of enthusiasm well before they’re ready to publish.

Cuddling is great, but I don’t feel like kissing or having sex. I could get myself off but – shrug.

I could take some photos of myself. It’s been a while, and I’ve hardly used the tripod I bought. But I’d have to clear a space or at least tidy, and even if I didn’t, I just don’t feel like it.

I have a stack of nonfiction to read. This is usually a daytime endeavour because I prefer fiction before bed, but I have a book that’s an easy enough read that it doesn’t wind my brain up and ruin my sleep. I have another one on the go for daytime. I just don’t usually feel like reading them. I end up catching up on Twitter instead.

Tidy the basement and declutter? Do some baking? Sometimes I’m too tired or busy for this stuff, but when I’m not, I don’t feel like it.

Apathy and flattening of affect can result from depression, but I don’t feel depressed any more. Down moods are very infrequent and mild, and I feel content more often than I feel down. My usual mood is OK, probably about 6-7 out of 10.

I felt like doing things was nearly impossible before. Sometimes if I felt like my brain was on enough to try to work, I’d sit in front of my computer, keen to start but unable to do so. Things don’t feel all that difficult now, but I feel like I care less. I just can’t be bothered.

I stumbled upon an older article of JoEllen Notte’s (The time Celexa ate my brain), which led me to brush up on the side effects of citalopram, an SSRI that I’ve been taking for over a year now:

  • Loss of libido – check. I was warned about this, but it was still frustrating when it happened because it feels so much like pre-epiphany disinterest that it felt like retrograde motion. What if it never comes back? What if this is the real me?
  • Change to sleep and alertness, brain fog – check. I now sleep an extra hour at night, and often feel blah during the day. I also have this mystery fatigue that’s been a problem for the last number of years, and attributed my current fog to the continuing fatigue. But maybe it’s not 100% responsible after all.
  • Problems with memory and concentration – check. This was a problem with the depression so I didn’t think about it much. It feels better than it was, but I’m still not functioning well. I used to find it easy to learn things because I would just remember them, but with memory affected, I feel a bit dumb, which is a hit to the self-image.
  • Change in weight – actually, yeah. My weight has always been really stable but I’ve gained about 10 pounds in the last year, which is 5 pounds over my previous maximum weight. (My breasts are looking great, actually, but I prefer them smaller.)
  • Gastrointestinal effects – check. I get the occasional feeling of mild nausea out of the blue. And then there’s the near-constant bloating, though I seem to have developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome about a year prior to starting on these meds, but surely they’re not helping.
  • Dizziness, vertigo – check, I think. I have issues with dizziness related to blood sugar levels, but this feels different. I spoke to my doctor about it, and he figured it was Benign Positional Vertigo, caused by crystals forming in one of the semi-circular canals in the ear. They dissolve on their own and there isn’t anything you can do except not move your head quickly. But I’ve now had spontaneous dizziness of this sort a handful of times since starting the meds, and prior to that the last (and, as far as I recall, only) bout was over 20 years ago.

So, lots of things going on that might have other causes, but taken all together, I think a lot of this is likely caused by the citalopram.

I found an article positing SSRI-induced indifference as a way of understanding behavioural apathy and emotional blunting. “I don’t feel like it” sure seems to fit here.

The citalopram has definitely helped me. I’m glad I’ve had it and would take it again. But it seems to me that it’s time to be done with it now. I’ll be seeing the doctor in a couple of weeks and am hoping he OKs me to start coming off the stuff.

NYE with Rosa: a coming-out story

New Year’s Eve, a day marking an arbitrary end point on the yearly cycle, doesn’t mean a great deal to me. I didn’t expect it to coincide with a real ending and new beginning.

I went out for coffee with my good friend, Rosa, as we do about once a month. We’re surprisingly alike in the sense that I think we were both surprised to have found someone so much like ourselves. We’ve shared a lot with each other, which is something that neither of us do readily – we’re both introverts, highly sensitive, cautious, self-sufficient, etc.

I’ve told her plenty about the family difficulties I had a few years ago that led to serious personal growth and ultimately (though indirectly) the creation of this blog. I told her about the blog itself (its existence, not the URL) at least a year ago and she treated it as a total non-issue. (She has never really asked me about it which I’d interpreted as disinterest, but now I wonder if she has refrained from asking about it because she’s leaving the decision whether to share entirely up to me. She’s like that.)

She takes privacy and confidentiality very seriously and is as much of a dead end for confidences as I am so I knew that I could trust her with the information.

I’d been thinking about telling her about Jaime since I’d told her about the blog, if not before, because, frankly, Jaime is much more exciting. But caution, as always with me, prevailed. I suppose I worried that she’d judge me as “cheating” on Wolf.

At some point my reason for wanting to tell her had gone beyond “hey, something fun is happening in my life” to “this relationship is really important to me and not sharing it feels inauthentic, like I’m cutting off a part of myself”. The last couple of times we met up, I’d been actively thinking about telling her. The same was true this time and it popped to mind from time to time while we chatted.

After a couple of hours Rosa looked at the time and announced that we should probably think about leaving soon; it was in fact the time when we would ordinarily leave, but we’d gotten there 30 minutes later than usual so I wasn’t ready to go yet. Also, for the previous 10 minutes, I’d been thinking seriously enough about confiding that I had begun to feel nervous. Fuck it. I took a deep breath, smiled and stared off into space somewhere beside her head while I tried to figure out what to say.

I’d thought so much about the fact of telling her but I never considered the words themselves. I don’t really remember what I said ­— something about having something I wanted to tell her but wasn’t sure how to say it — and when I paused to take a breath she said, “I’m all ears!”

So I took another deep breath and, by way of preamble, told her that this was something that no one* knew about, except for Wolf. But … I was also in a relationship with someone other than Wolf.

From there the conversation is even more of a blur. I remember that she started a sentence with “He” and then caught herself — “Is it a he?” — and I said yes, and she continued on with her sentence. How sweet, I thought, that she should be so conscious of not making assumptions about me, and that she has also pre-emptively accepted that I might be bi. But then I don’t expect anything less from her.

Though she hadn’t guessed or predicted it, she said that in a way she wasn’t surprised because she figures I already live a bit outside the box. She didn’t know whether I would take that comment well or poorly, but I found it reassuring. I suppose it’s comforting when someone knows you well enough to expect you to be weird and to be open enough to difference to be OK with that.

She did a lot of the talking and I really don’t remember what she said, though I recognised at times that she was filling the silence with a stream of comforting words to say, “I see you, I (still) like you, and I approve of you.” She recognised that the relationship with Jaime was something I hadn’t undertaken lightly, and respected the fact that I was circumspect about the effects on Wolf and Jaime (and others).

I didn’t tell her a great deal about Jaime — I didn’t even mention his name. I did explain that he’s the person I was visiting on certain of my recent trips. She and I don’t really talk about sex, so it didn’t make sense to lead with that aspect of the relationship but I told her about some other things that make Jaime special to me: that I feel deeply loved by him and that his emotional support is unwavering.

She basically was cool with it all and happy that I was happy. On top of that, she was very happy that I trusted her that much to tell her about it. And she told me she loved me.

Throughout it all, I found myself on the verge of tears despite not being sad or upset. I think it was just the intensity of the vulnerability, like holding my ribcage open for an hour, hoping she wouldn’t reach in and crush my heart.

She shared a couple of personal things with me too, though not so intense. An hour and a half after I launched into this confession, we decided it really was time to leave.

And that’s why I began 2018 feeling happy, accomplished, and even more full of love than before.

 

* I also mentioned it briefly to Lucas, after he first confessed his own BDSM-based poly situation; and to a mutual acquaintance of Rosa’s and mine who I unexpectedly ran into at a play party, after she first confessed her own queer poly situation.

a year on anti-depressants

I was diagnosed with depression just before 2017 began, at which point it had been brewing for about three months but I’d found it difficult to identify.

Aside from a consistently down mood (which felt “normal”), the biggest problems I had were poor cognition, indecisiveness, complete lack of confidence, and a feeling that everything was too difficult to manage. Indecisiveness and lack of confidence were difficult to spot because I always have them to a degree and I didn’t notice how much worse they had gotten. In addition to the depression itself eroding confidence, my awareness of my difficulties with cognition and concentration also damaged my confidence.

I’ve heard it said that depression lies. That’s very true. It affected my ability to think, which in effect made me partly blind to the very symptoms it created — like walking into a fog that makes you hallucinate the absence of fog.

(Having been through a depressive episode a couple of years earlier, I found it disconcerting that this could happen again without me really seeing it. As I started to come out of the fog, I noticed I was finding laundry easier to do again, and I then realised that I’d found it almost impossible for a while but remembered that before that it had been easy and kind of enjoyable. My new rule of thumb is that if laundry ever feels like total drudgery to me again, I’ll take it as a red flag and consider whether I need some help.)

When everything feels insurmountably difficult, seeking treatment can be incredibly challenging too. I found it difficult to ask for help, but I’d already accepted that (1) I’d probably been depressed before and (2) therapy wasn’t useful this time, so when I made the doctor’s appointment I’d also already accepted the idea of being diagnosed. Even so, in that moment when he proclaimed the diagnosis I felt vulnerable and damaged. But in the next moment I knew there was the possibility of some treatment that would help, and that felt like a little ray of light.

After a year on citalopram, my mood is very stable. About two or three times per month I’ll have an inexplicable down mood, which I find fairly easy to identify because they contrast with my regular mood and aren’t situational (i.e. they aren’t caused by negative thoughts or bad news). I find these fairly easy to accept and roll with, especially because they’re always gone by the next day.

Work continued to be a struggle this past year: it’s hard to find work satisfying or even know whether I’m in a suitable career when I’m not experiencing any enjoyment from any projects. Things have recently improved to the point where I sometimes feel a mild to moderate sense of competence and satisfaction, but it hasn’t been consistent enough to know whether it will continue. I hope it does.

And then there’s the fatigue thing. I’ve never been much of a planner and it’s been especially frustrating when I don’t know whether I’ll have the energy to do anything tomorrow, let alone next week or next month. As a result I’ve become miserly with my time. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten into the habit of not deciding what I’m going to do until I assess my capabilities and limits on the day in question; after innumerable abandoned plans, the disappointment had gotten to be too much.

Lately, however, I’ve been making plans a little further out. My cognition has improved somewhat and I’ve been chipping away at a couple of projects and getting some positive reinforcement from that. Like the work situation, it hasn’t been going on long enough that I can confidently predict how I’ll be doing in a month or two, but it has been enough of a contrast with before that I’m cautiously optimistic.

Sex is not happening. I have no libido to speak of and this is causing me some distress, in part because I don’t know what the cause is. There’s a good chance that I’ll come off the medication this spring or summer, at which point I’ll discover whether it’s a side-effect or something else. I’m hoping for side-effect: it’s a disappointing to miss out on arousal and sex, but it’s easily reversible.

Another possibility is that, even post-epiphany, I haven’t made much progress on rewriting my maladaptive sexuality script, and this echoing absence is the sound of the other shoe dropping. It’s hard to remind myself that there may be a simple chemical explanation because this utter lack of sexual interest feels gut-wrenchingly familiar, and the part of me that still feels sexually broken is saying, “See? Told you so.”

If that’s the devil on my shoulder, the angel is my tolerance for ambiguity. I don’t know when I’ll be off the meds but it won’t be too long now. (My doctor’s policy is not to take a person off anti-depressants during the winter in case seasonal affective disorder is playing a role.) I don’t know whether the meds are responsible for this but I’ll find out in the not-too-distant future.

review: Satisfyer Pro 2

I started writing this review not long after receiving the product, but then struggled for months to complete it, so I must extend my sincerest apologies to Satisfyer for taking so bloody long. In the interim I realised that in order to write a review I’d be satisfied with, I needed to think more analytically about my own pleasure — a worthy goal in itself.

The Satisfyer Pro 2 is a rechargeable vibrator with “pressure wave and touch-free clitoral stimulation”. (Note: Since I received this product, a newer version has been released — the Satisfyer Pro 2: Next Generation.)

The exterior of the Satisfyer Pro 2 is rose-gold ABS plastic and white silicone, so it’s non-porous and body safe, and the silicone head can be removed and cleaned, sterilised, or replaced. The USB charging cable attaches to the toy by means of a seriously strong magnet, so no worries about it coming disconnected. The indicator light on the toy shows whether it’s charging, fully charged, or on. The Satisfyer Pro 2 does not come with a storage bag (nor does the Next Gen version).

The Satisfyer Pro 2 has no patterns but has 11 levels of intensity, controlled with a single, large button that scrolls from low to high and back to low again. (This interface did not prove popular and has been replaced by + and – buttons on the Satisfyer Pro 2: Next Generation model.)

The Satisfyer Pro 2 is described as “touch-free”, which I’d found a little confusing until I saw how it works: the silicone head touches the vulva around the clitoris but does not contact the clitoris itself. There is a moving part (visible, but set well back from the business end) that creates pulses of air (or water if you’re in the bath) and it’s these pulses that create the sensation. Stimulation of the clitoris is thus indirect, in a manner of speaking.

I was optimistic that the Satisfyer Pro 2 would work well for me since it is a focused toy  and my preferred method of masturbation uses the tip of a bullet vibe.

I was wrong.

The mechanics of the Satisfyer Pro 2 create something like suction or pressure though it didn’t actually feel like either. At level 1, I could feel something but it seemed not quite enough; level 2 had potential in terms of intensity but wasn’t the right sensation; level 3 was too much. I found that I got worn out and felt uncomfortable easily.

Using it in water gives a more intense sensation because the water is denser than air. Counterintuitively, I used this fact to reduce sensation because the pulses were now strong enough to be felt without placing the head in contact with my body. But I only found the resulting sensations mildly pleasant at best.

Sadly, I was unable to get anywhere near orgasm with the Satisfyer Pro 2. Why didn’t it work for me when it seemed so promising? There were a few reasons.

First, it turns out I don’t enjoy direct stimulation as much as I thought I did. Although I like to pinpoint my clit with my bullet vibe, I’ve subsequently observed that I don’t do this all the time or even all that much. The resulting sensation is often too intense and will simply desensitise me. The Satisfyer Pro 2 stimulates the (glans of the) clitoris and nothing else, which is a definite drawback for me.

Related to this is the fact that I always use my vibe on the “wave” setting: sensation is variable throughout the cycle, and at times is super mild. I found that I also adjust manually by reducing the pressure of the vibe against my vulva frequently, often to the lightest possible touch. Although the Satisfyer Pro 2 has a variety of intensities, pulling it away ends sensation instead of subtly lessen it.

Finally, my sweet spot seems to migrate unpredictably. Things can be feeling fantastic and I’ll feel that I’m getting close, when suddenly it doesn’t feel like anything at all and I have to go looking for the goodness again. Since the Satisfyer Pro 2 can only be used in one location, I can’t use it to chase down my wandering sweet spot.

I so wanted to like the Satisfyer Pro 2 but it’s not the toy for me.

The Satisfyer Pro 2 was provided to me by Satisfyer in exchange for an honest review.

Boobday: holidays

It’s the end of the year. I’m at Wolf’s mother’s place, the very place where I launched this blog just over three years ago, as a matter of fact. The weather is cold and I don’t want to go outside and my back is complaining about the long road trip and subsequent inactivity.

I took this photo at home, in the newly painted bedroom. It’s a dark colour, and rather more reminiscent of the London dungeon Jaime and I visited back in March than I’d intended, but it’s also about my favourite colour in the world so fuck it.

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Boobday: on closer reflection

I’ve been back home long enough that it feels normal again. Well, mostly. Having been in a place where the sun was nearly overhead, somehow it seems like at home it’s even lower than it was last year at this time. And the days are so short.

I don’t think I’ve talked much about my fatigue here. It’s an ongoing issue, like for years now. I don’t have a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, though I could probably get one if I wanted it; my doctor doesn’t disagree with it but he doesn’t find it helpful so he hasn’t branded me with it so far.

While I was away, I didn’t notice any unusual fatigue. Granted, I was on vacation and actually took things easy, but still, it stood out. At one point I wondered if I might actually be better. And then I got home, and after recovering from the exhaustion of long haul travel and jet lag, I feel like I still have the same fatigue problem as before. Curious but somewhat encouraging that it went away, if only briefly.

This photo was taken during my trip. There’s nothing green outside my window at home.

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Boobday: mile high 20

Hello all! I just got home the other day from a lengthy trip to visit Jaime. It was wonderful to spend time with him again after so long apart, but I’m now getting re-accustomed to my regular routine. And time zone. And hemisphere.

If anyone asks about my trip, I can tell them that the weather was good but it was rather disorienting to go to a country where the sun is too high and on the wrong side of the sky, and that it took even longer to get used to because half the days were cloudy. It’s been disorienting coming home too, with snow on the ground and what feels like 5:30 pm sunshine at 1:30.

But I won’t tell them how it’s both comforting and bittersweet to go from the care of one man I love to that of the other, in either direction. Or how, even though there’s been a net increase of love, I regret the fact that the competition for my time is a zero-sum game and I must always disappoint one of them.

These photos are from the outbound trip.

 

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