ANXIETY, SEX & ADULTHOOD.
Somewhere in Vietnam: a hotel room that looks kind of French, two empty passion fruits and half-drunk cups of coffee, morning light that hits the rooftops outside the window. Pierre says, “I think you have general anxiety disorder.” Well, if that didn’t trigger every single cell of my anxious ass self I don’t know what will. First off, I was immediately taken back to my freshman year of university in San Francisco (read “San Francisco: A History” https://clarkeaudrey.wixsite.com/sexandroses/single-post/2018/03/14/SAN-FRANCISCO-A-HISTORY for the whole story), when I was the most anxious and depressed I had been in my entire life, to the point of hospitalization. My boyfriend at the time had asked me, in my tiny dorm room that overlooked the bay and downtown, to not talk to him about my anxiety and depression because it brought him down. So I held it all in and thought about how nice it would be to not exist. That was a dark time and I needed a lot to get me out of it: a breakup, a gap year, a summer in the mountains, medication, therapy, and time. But I did get out of it - and then I moved to Paris. The panic attacks came back, plus a new symptom! Hypochondria. Again, therapy, exercise, pills when needed, and simple things like listening to the rain, cooking and lighting candles. I got better. Panic attacks subsided and I didn’t need pills. Flash forward to 2019 and having anxiety is as normal as having an iPhone, but what does that mean? Is that a good thing? Don’t get me wrong, mental health awareness is so important and I’m beyond grateful for it; but there is a difference between anxiety, which is a normal human emotion, and feeling a disproportionate amount of anxiety that impacts your everyday life and becomes a mental disorder. When I went off my anti-anxiety and depressant medication four years ago, I would have a bad day or an anxious thought and think immediately, “I need to go back on the meds.” But then I realized those thoughts and feelings were normal, and even quite special, because there is no good without the bad. And I believe recognizing your anxiety for what it is can make you really powerful. So now, in 2019, I feel all mentally healthy and in control and shit, and someone who I love and who spends all their time with me, googles general anxiety disorder, reads the symptoms and goes, “That’s you babe!” What??? But I’m fine!!! I say as I pull all the hair out my damn head. Granted, that was maybe not the best way for Pierre to handle it, but also, maybe I’m not fine. I do pull my hair out all the time, grind my teeth, obsess over my weight, get headaches, and more. And lately, I’ve had like no libido, which for me, is really fucking rare. I did brake a rib, which has totally tensed and stressed my entire body, made me lose weight, and occasionally break out in stress rashes. Pierre and I both had bad pink eye infections which made us feel like we couldn’t even cuddle. And I am in Vietnam dealing with all of this, but nonetheless I have felt so NOT in my body, that I felt I could not have sex; Like it wasn’t me. Perhaps I do have general anxiety disorder, I’ve been diagnosed before. But as someone who is generally anxious and unmedicated, it’s hard to know the exact line, between manageable anxiety and having a medical disorder. It’s hard to feel sexy and let go when you have a million and one thoughts. Sometimes sex can help anxiety- it can act as a momentary release for your mind and body. Sometimes sex just seems fucking scary when you don’t feel in control of your body or your thoughts. Lately, my anxiety has been extremely present. And I know if I was home I would check myself into therapy and have a daily exercise routine. But I’m not home and I have a broken rib so I can’t workout, and every couple nights I’m in a different bed, grateful for my days in Asia but reminded I have a giant America-sized capitalist created pile of college debt I have to start paying back, a serious long term relationship I never thought I’d be in at 23, a degree that qualifies me to do nothing but waitress and write this blog, a sense that nowhere is home because I grew up in California but became a woman in Paris and I can’t see myself long term in either, and a perpetual identity crisis because of my Sagittarius desire to never stay put. Sometimes, I think about all that bull shit and I get really fucking hopeless. It’s why I went vegan. I thought it was the one simple everyday thing I could do to make the world a little less hopeless. All in all, with the state of things, and my anxiety disorder making a surprise appearance on my backpacking trip, sex has just been different. Personally, in these past couple weeks I haven’t felt in my body but more in my head, and I’ve been working on allowing and accepting and getting to know my non-sexual self. I’ve been saying, “No, I don’t feel horny” and then teaching myself to not feel bad about it. When you’re anxious, everything takes a lot of energy and sometimes you just don’t have that energy for sex. Sex can be a very high energy activity and you have to want it. Be patient with yourself. Make a list, sort your thoughts, read a book, drink lots of water, eat well, go for a walk. Don’t pressure yourself to feel sexual or have sex, the urge will come again. My libido is coming back here and there, in waves and moments. It’s like an old friend coming back into my life. When you do feel sexual again, it can be so fun to explore your body or someone else’s body or your partners body like they’re new. When Pierre and I have had sex recently it feels brand new and everything is so heightened. To me - true sexual empowerment is having sex when you want to and not having sex when you don’t want to. This can be hard in a society that teaches us jack shit about consent and pleasure. So I started writing this blog a day ago and something wonderful happened this morning that I must include. Writing this piece yesterday cleared my mind and allowed me to relax, a little. So earlier I gave Pierre the sex eyes and we did it before breakfast. Then after breakfast, Pierre was getting my ingrowns and tweezing my pussy hair (he loves doing this as I don’t have much hair from three years of waxing so the little hairs are satisfying to pull out) and I was so aroused because he was near my pussy but not licking it. I told him I was horny and when he finally started licking me it so was so incredible. Some moments I was in my head but I focused instead on really releasing and being present and I had a beautiful all-encompassing orgasm. Then I rolled over and we did it from behind. A first since my accident! And all today we’ve been all loved up and horny in rainy Hoi An. I guess I want to say that if anxiety is getting in the way of your libido, be patient with yourself; good sex is worth the wait.