It Happened To Me Contest Entry: I Went off Antidepressants, But My Sex Drive Never Came Back

I’m left to wonder: Was sex just a phase for me, like reading Ayn Rand or doing Bikram yoga?
Publish date:
February 19, 2013
antidepressants, ihtm contest, ihtm raw, lexapro, Sex,

[If you like this IHTM contest entry, comment to that effect below and that will help the writer win the big money. Feel free to critique below too, so we can weigh that in our decision. --Jane]

I guess I was what you could call a “self-made nymphomaniac.” I came from a good home with a loving family, I was never shown any untoward sexual attention, no psycho-sexual skeletons rattling around in any of my family’s closets.

At the age of eight, I came across a huge porno stash festering out in our garage. I still hadn’t had the birds-and-the-bees talk, but yet I knew there was something off about what I saw. And I also knew not to tell anyone about this fleshy treasure trove.

It wasn’t the pictures that moved me so much as the words. I read articles like "Perspectives on the Penis," excerpts from the writings of the Marquis de Sade, and Penthouse Forums for days. I just knew I was going to love sex.

The universe conspired to keep me a virgin: I got stuck in predominantly girls private schools. But when I was 14, we moved and I went to a public high school that was teeming with boys. Two months into the fall semester, I had a boyfriend. Three weeks later, we consummated the relationship –- with his best friend watching and joining in. It was sweaty and intense and as gloriously cinematic and pretty much everything I had been imagining for the past six years.

It was finally confirmed: Sex IS awesome, and I wanted to have a lot of it. So unbeknownst (or maybe beknownst) to my boyfriend, I started messing around with the best friend. And unbeknownst to the best friend, I started messing around with his girlfriend.

Once I entered my 20s, sex went from being a hobby to a habit to a lifestyle. Every weekend night I spent teetering around in 5” heels, a see-through blouse and a micro-miniskirt –- even when I was not in the club, but running errands to Target or Home Depot or getting a Subway sandwich.

During the week, I had Internet dates –- sometimes as many as three a night. I let myself be picked up at the supermarket, the gym, driving on the freeway, looking at porno mags in Tower Records (RIP). I was never not looking for sex.

In the summer of my 28th year, this lifestyle started to bite me in the ass. One of my fuckbuddies who I was secretly falling for texted me from Burning Man: “I just got a herpes breakout, never had this before. Did you give these to me? If not, get yourself checked.”

I was crushed: not only that he thought I was a germy, unethical sex partner, but because I knew I didn’t have it, he must have been fucking someone who did have it, and I wanted to think I was the only one.

Then I got a bad dye job that turned my already overprocessed hair into an ashy bird’s nest that was so brittle, inches of it disintegrated when I ran a comb through it. I got laid off (didn’t really have anything to do with anything else, but it was like a punch to the gut when you are already down).

Everything snowballed, and I found myself at a low that not even sex could lift me out of. I didn’t want therapy, I didn’t want anyone trying to fix a life that I enjoyed, but I did want to stop feeling shitty.

I polled my friends for a good shrink (i.e., one who would give me meds); I got a name and by the end of my second session, I had a prescription. We did an abysmal trial run with Prozac, but it was Lexapro that ended up sticking.

My therapist suggested that I might want to keep it in my pants for a while; I knew she was right and I focused on putting structure back into my life. Once the Lexapro had settled down and normality settled in, it was if my libido had been surgically removed, and every part of my body that was supposed to feel good was numb.

I didn’t have physical urges, sex no longer dominated my brain, but for a while, I was on autopilot. Like being home on Saturday night and reflexively trolling Craigslist and hooking up a Casual Encounter –- because that was just what I did.

I tried three times –- three soulless, mechanical couplings that left me feeling some combination of unsatisfied and angsty –- before I realized it just wasn’t worth doing.

After a year, I felt not-depressed enough to try life without Lexapro. My therapist agreed and I weaned off the meds. Though, by this point, I had other reasons for wanting off the drug, I was really excited by the prospect of having a libido again.

After six months off meds, I got my first big sign that my sex drive hadn’t rebounded.

One night I was walking around my neighborhood, waiting to cross a street, and some kid –- some tall, strapping, hot 20-year-old guy –- started talking flirty to me. Thirty minutes later, we were naked in my living room.

This would have been a dream-cum-true for my former self –- I had to exert no effort; he was practically a stranger (stranger sex was always the hottest kind), but I was so mehhhh about it. Kissing him was OK. Groping was not horrible. But the sex -– I was so not into it. Boredom isn’t quite the right word, but it’s close.

I started fantasizing…first about other guys, other people watching us. I fantasized about girls. Finally, I thought about clothing, picturing the pretty dresses from the Bloomingdales catalog that came in the mail that day. These thoughts did not make me come but they offered my brain a nice place to be while my body was doing something tedious.

Fast-forward to now: It’s been seven years and my libido never came back, not even for a little while, not even a little bit. I look at guys and think, “Oooh, handsome!” But never, “…and I want to put my mouth all over his body.” I don’t get any physical sensations of lust –- no butterflies, not stiff nips, no moist or throbby loins.

In this time, I have been in two real relationships. The first one, I thought, maybe I am not sexually attracted to him because he’s such a sweet, caring fellow and I am just hung up on the fact every other guy I’ve dated was an asshole. To test this hypothesis, I turned to some of the hot assholes from my past and decided to find some hot new assholes to fuck on Craigslist.

Yeah, cheating, I know, no bueno, but if it turned out that I could have hot sex with one of these assholes, it would then be the humane thing to do to dump the nice guy, if I wasn’t into having sex with him. All my would-be Casual Encounters ended the same way: me awkwardly telling my date to put his/her pants back on, me not feeling it and shutting the whole thing down when my hormones failed to spark.

I dumped the princely boyfriend anyway -– it was 50% out of human decency, 50% because I could not imagine having to continue to have sex with him on a regular basis.

The no-sex-drive-thing makes me feel like less of a woman. We’re in this time when there is so much and so many different kinds of sex available, and we can freely ask for it and admit we enjoy it, and I’m frozen from the waist, down. I hear and read people talking about how sexual they are and my intellectual response is to be jealous, but the truth is, I just don’t care.

It’s also completely fucked up the dynamics of my friendships. I feel alone, freakish and left out when I’m in a conversation that turns to sex, or the trading of carnal anecdotes -- I am sure my discomfort makes me come off dismissive, rude or crazy. I’m totally unsympathetic to the inevitable friend who does the “My ex treated me like shit, I’m still fucking him and he still treats me really badly, but I’m all ‘whatever’ because I’m only in it for the sex.” (Even though I was that girl, times without number.)

Lately, most of my good friends are older women, married folks and other types people who don’t wallow in the details of their sex lives.

There’s nothing physically wrong with me. My nether regions always pass their annual inspections. I get complete blood and hormone panels done on a yearly basis. I’ve talked to therapists about my cooled ardor; when we fruitlessly exhaust the conversations about what could be happening in my head or in my life to so dramatically shut my sex drive down, they refer me to doctors I’ve already seen and tests I’ve already taken.

It’s not entirely bad. I mean, stating the obvious, it’s not cancer. Stating the obvious again: You get a lot done when you’re not obsessing about sex. And I’m glad I got the chance to invest myself in a monogamous relationship, like the one I am in now.

The sex is easier, a little, because I am head over heels for this guy, and I want to make him happy. At first, sex seemed so new. But then came disinterest, followed by antipathy. At least I have enough tricks up my sleeve that I can get him off quickly and get it over with.

Maybe something will change. Maybe as I approach sexual prime-time, things will wake up down there. And female Viagra could happen soon. But the thing is, the longer I live without it, the more distant it feels to me -– there’s no urgency, no more rage or sadness at not being able to enjoy this wonderful thing that used to be my life. And it must be said that rest of my life is very good.

I’m left to wonder: was sex just a phase for me, like reading Ayn Rand or doing Bikram yoga? Did I already burn through my cosmic allotment of sex for this lifetime? Or is there something wrong with me?