I come from an anxious family.
We’re door lock checkers, sun tan lotion smotherers, insomniacs, and chuck in the random obsessional thoughts about killing family members- yep, that’s us. We’re really popular people 😉
I worry about ridiculous things- whether my friends like me, whether I’m boring, if I put too many exclamation marks in that text message, whether the man who works in the cornershop is making enough money to pay rent . I even worry about being worried (so meta!).
Unfortunately, anxiety also has a huge impact on my sex drive.
It’s the one thing (alongside stress) that shortcircuits any sexual urges I have.
And because talking about sex and mental health is so taboo in our society, this is rarely discussed ( although JoEllen Notte does some amazing work around depression and sex.)
So I’ve detailed below the 5 ways anxiety can impact on your sexual well-being.
If you suffer from anxiety, perhaps you recognise these too?
1. You’re stuck in your own head and can’t focus on the task at hand
Anxiety causes us to have a monkey mind- constantly flipping between thoughts like a monkey jumping from tree to tree. This makes it so hard to be present and just focus on pleasure, our bodies, and the feelings sex and foreplay evoke.
I desperately want to relax, but instead I start worrying that I’ve started worrying, and before I know it my thoughts have spiralled out of control and I’m so tense I’m stiffer than him! It can feel really overwhelming, and distressing to feel like you’re not in the room, and your body is completely disconnected from your mind.
2. You worry about EVERYTHING
When it’s time to get down to business, your brain decides to go haywire.
Instead of engaging in the moment, I’m worrying about whether I am wet down below, if I smell, when I’m next going to eat, what that buzzing noise is coming from the bedside light and if it’s going to break and kill us all in the night, if my thighs are slapping together and I sound like a hungry hippo…… so much so that I’m distracted from what feels good and end up trying to make myself “do” sexy rather than just be myself.
Because of this I’m awkward, can’t let loose and loose control, and I end up doing the female version of this:
3. You can’t get wet because it’s hard to relax
You overthink getting turned on, and so this became a horrible catch 22 where you just became more and more stressed about not being wet… so then you can’t get wet. The struggle is real. And it’s exhausting!
4. You become paralysed in the bedroom
For my brain, sex feels the perfect time to go into worry hyperdrive because I’m actively trying to concentrate on something else.
Because my brain is stuck in debilitating spirals of worry, my body becomes paralysed.
I find I want to be in missionary so I can stay still-ish- that way I can let my brain continue to worry uninterrupted.
There’s some safety, security and positivity in worrying for me- it helps me retain my anxieties, mull them over and think my way out of them. So the pull of letting myself wallow in the anxiety is really strong, and I find myself stock still and stuck in my own head.
5. You can’t talk to your partner because you’re worried about being judged
Because anxiety is also incredible pervasive into other areas of your life, I find that I can’t express myself in bed because I’m worried I’ll be judged. I’ve been with my partner for nearly five years and he’s really supportive- and would actively encourage me to be a freak in the bedroom- but I hold back, scared of what he might think if I went full wild woman.
The problem is that expressing what I want and need in bed is the secret to making sex a thousand times better. So I’m stuck in a situation where I can’t tell him what I want, and because sex probably doesn’t feel as good as it absolutely can be, I probably want it less than I might do if I was completely passionate and free in bed.
Flash forwards to today and my anxiety is less like a flood and more like a dripping tap. Thanks to some tips I followed, I’m much more able to catch the anxious thoughts when they come now, and challenge them.
I’d love to know how you feel– does anxiety impact on your desire or ability to have sex? Let me know in the comments.
P.S. Check out this article for more stories from Bustle on how other people with anxiety deal with having sex