Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 15 Jan 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.


If there’s one thing I wanted this blog to be about, it’s telling the truth, even if it hurts or if it’s embarrassing. And in that spirit, this one is going to take a look around the towns of ‘Hurt’ and ‘Embarrassing’ for a while, buy some property and move in. Should you be a man with depression, or if you’re interested in finding out how it wounds you in the most intimate way, then come on inside.

For many men, the side effects of taking anti-depressant medication is that you become permanently or occasionally impotent. Almost every man will have experienced impotence at some time or another and will recognise some of the feelings involved, but as this is a first person blog, I’m going to outline what I feel is the difference between medically induced impotence and the brief, fleeting kind, and why it matters.

When you fail to get it up in the conventional order of things, you think ‘Bollocks, I can’t get it up’ which is a thought swiftly succeeded by ‘Oh, fuck, please let me get wood’ and then a frantic attempt to recall anything sexual that has ever happened to you. The faster these thoughts cycle through and the more frantic attempts at recall you make, the less likely they are to succeed and the more your heart starts pounding in all the wrong ways.

You may then try and sneak up on the idea of an erection by pretending you don’t really care, only to flick straight over into agonising panic all over again when it becomes obvious that you can’t sneak up on your erection, either. And as soon as panic arrives in the bedroom, kitchen, farmer’s field or wherever you’re attempting to have sex or get tossed off, then you can forget it and may as well settle for a cup of tea and a good book.

The feeling you get the following day is that yesterday you failed and that you are less of a man. Everything you did will mock you and your every gesture will somehow be diminished because last night you couldn’t get it up. Other feelings will depend on who you were with and, at this point, I need to apologise because this blog will be hugely heteronormative and entirely from a male point of view. But stick with me.

Someone whose reaction is harsh has it in her power to emotionally maim you for months. And even if someone treats you with love and sympathy, there are words from what they say, whole phrases that you will select, to add to your narrative of self-hate, weaving them artfully together until what you have is a seamless story of your failure and humiliation which will only be partially expunged until you get it up again.

This sort of impotence is frustrating because you want to come, often really quite urgently, but the fatal blending of desire and fear kills the former. But Citalopram impotence is a whole new ball game. It’s not fear’s victory over desire, but the absolute absence of desire at all. You aren’t even aware that desire ever existed at all, except as the vaguest of vague memories or as something you once heard described to you.

It may be intermittent, this, coming, if you’ll pardon the pun, and then going of its own volition. Sometimes, desire feels as though it’s coming back, your pulse quickens and you’re alive to things that you’d previously barely noticed. And then it goes again and you’re back to amiably plodding through life, distantly thinking that there’s something you’re missing but not being wholly sure what.

I’m not criticising Citalopram. Far from it. The one time I tried to come off it, I nearly ended up chucking myself off a multi-storey car park and I know that it’s stopping me from tipping over again, so this isn’t me railing against the drug in any way. But I miss sex or, more accurately, I miss the way it used to make me feel alive and as though I was briefly at one with life rather than banging painfully up against it.

All the self-mockery that temporary impotence heaps on me is here as well, of course, with my brain telling me I’m wholly useless, but into that toxic soup is added the final idea of my desire as a vacuum through which nothing will ever pass again. It’s better, I think, than being dead, but I’m aware that there is one, fairly major piece of life that I’m missing, I’m aware that I used to like it and that makes me feel sad.

I was angry with sex for a long time for existing, because of what I do really need to own as my impotence. How much better things would be, as this line of thought went, if people could just lay eggs and somehow fertilise them after the fact. There would be no clumsiness and, more importantly, no aching desire that longs for someone else’s touch and joyful acquiescence. The terrible fact is that these are the things that make existence tolerable sometimes and that trying to build a wall to keep them out doesn’t work.

So there we are. It feels as though circumstance has exiled me from somewhere that I’d like to be and that, were things all normal and my mental health was robust and what it should be, I’d be resident in. Blogs are personal, even when they’re not meant to be, and this one is, for the time being, no more than a howl of pain that what you see above you is my lot.

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