I’ve had pain and inflammation in my joints for over a month now which is debilitating and worrying. Blood tests show I have raised RH (rheumatoid) factor and am slightly anaemic. Both typing and walking are painful but it’s the inability to do simple things that has got me down – putting a hair band in, cooking, opening jars and washing up. I’ve been popping painkillers like candy, which makes me feel tired and irritable and has made the inflammation worse. Interrupted sleep means my body isn’t healing properly and I feel less able to cope with the day’s demands.
Having a physical condition you can’t predict or control affects your mental wellbeing. I’ve found myself withdrawing from social activities and wanting to spend time alone. I’m not my usual juicy self and have had no interest in sex or self-pleasure. I’m staying with the pain – trying to breathe into it and separate my thoughts from it via meditation and mindfulness. A friend who is an NLP practitioner said after a bad car accident she used to set an alarm to go off every hour so she could monitor her thoughts and make sure she wasn’t spiralling into negativity.
Depression is a common illness affecting 1/6 of us according to the mental health charity MIND and there’s lots of support available online via a depression helpline . The brain chemicals norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine (neurotransmitters) control our moods and wellbeing and an imbalance stops us taking pleasure in normal activities. This affects libido, erectile function and our ability to enjoy sex, says David MacIsaac PhD, a psychologist based in New York. Depression makes you feel disconnected from your body and also slows down the body’s systems so you won’t be as sharp to respond physically, says Christine Webber, psychotherapist and life coach. ‘There can be adverse effects on any activity that requires verve, spontaneity, good co-ordination – and that includes sex.’
So what’s the solution? I’m trying light therapy, daily walks, yoga, hydrotherapy and Epsom salt baths. Swimming helps to build up the fluid in my joints. I’m trying to slow down a little and this has forced me to take a break from the laptop. I’m nurturing myself with good food, water, aromatherapy oils and organic skincare products. Last night I went to a wonderful Tibetan soundbath, which had a deep healing effect and my left hand feels almost normal today. The sound frequencies penetrate every area of the body and alter your brainwaves so you are deeply relaxed. My Biofeedback practitioner recommended I try grounding sheets to counteract the WIFI and a copper bracelet for my joints so lots to explore.
As for sex and depression, regular cuddles and touch are a must. Massage calms the nervous system, helps the body detox and encourages healing and it doesn’t have to be sexual. Being touched and nurtured physically will build up your libido over time. Energetic quickies might not be an option but tantric slow sex is something you can find pleasure in.