Mental Illness

Caregiving: The Fun Of Sexual Dysfunction

There we were, Christmas Day, opening presents. And one of my presents from Mr. Juniper? Oh yes, it was 10 ¼ inches. I yelped with joy. How could I not? I never thought it would happen, but there it was.

All right, so the 10 ¼ inches was a Le Creuset. What? It’s gorgeous! And Mr. Juniper knows I’ve been fawning over the range for months now. It would have been lovely to think that those inches could have been an erection from my darling husband but I’m aware that an erection is neither something that can be ordered, nor is one appropriate for unwrapping in front of the rest of the family.

There’s been a change since I last wrote about sex and intimacy. A rather big change. Or lots of little changes. I don’t know. Life’s different, that’s for sure. We’re into 2013 now, and I can safely count the number of times we had sex last year on one hand and still have a finger spare. If not two. (I feel like there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere.)

There is something of a running joke in our house of my attempts to seduce Mr. Juniper. In a way, it’s done us good. With a straight face (and Juniper Junior in bed!), I’ll saunter into a room naked. “Sure you don’t want some, handsome?” I purr. “Oh, I’m sure,” he says, smiling. The smile turns to laughter as I straddle him, and whisper, “Really? That marvellous cock of yours doesn’t want to come out and play?” A kiss. A sigh. “No, it doesn’t,” he says, apologetically. Another kiss, and I run off in search of a blanket. It is the middle of winter, after all.

Ambushing him with my nudity and horrific attempts at sexy talk is fun, I’ll admit. I get to see him smile, see him laugh. It’s easier than the discussions of sexual dysfunction, that’s for sure. Some people would, I guess, say that sexual dysfunction is a small price to pay for something resembling mental stability. I can see where they’re coming from, to an extent. There are few, if any, medications in the world that don’t have some side-effects. So what’s the price you’re going to pay to get better? For Mr. Juniper, the price has been his sex life. Yeah, big deal – it could be worse, right? Of course it could be worse. He could be in a zombie state, he could be dealing with drug-induced suicidal ideation, he could be dead. That seems so brutal, put like that. Because of course I’m grateful that he’s here, that he’s getting better, that he is able to receive treatment. And yet, there’s a “but” amongst it all. But he now suffers from sexual dysfunction. A problem he never had before. His price for getting better, for beginning to overcome decades of trauma, is to no longer be able to make love.

And how quaint it sounds: making love. What a delicate way to phrase a desire for a good fuck. This is part of the problem with sexual dysfunction: it encompasses the basic, crude desire that can also be an experience of incredible intimacy and love. There are times where I feel like it’s some kind of cosmic joke. It’s written in The Fault In Our Stars that sometimes the universe just wants to be noticed. All right, universe. It’s been a few billion years since you had a good bang, therefore I don’t get one, either?

A lack of a sex life is more, for us at least, than the lack of sex. It’s losing a basic way of being intimate, a basic way of communicating, almost. It’s also being forced to see the side-effects of medication and trying to spend the least time possible acknowledging with each other that the side-effect could even be permanent. But it has to be acknowledged, otherwise it would be nigh on impossible to cope. We know what we’re dealing with and so, we can support each other. And it is a case of supporting each other. Of being able to talk with each other about something that had never previously been an issue. Because this isn’t an issue that is solely Mr. Juniper’s. It’s an issue that affects our relationship. That is about us.

And the thing is, neither of us want the medication to be stopped. And I think we’re both okay with that. He’s still here because of medication. If this is the price of recovery, maybe it’s not so bad. Not really. Though I’ll be honest, if Mr. Juniper happens upon a pencil full of lead, you can bet I’m coming.

By Juniper

Rarely to be found without herbal tea nearby. Team Unicorn. Often in pyjamas. Also: TEAM KATNISS!

7 replies on “Caregiving: The Fun Of Sexual Dysfunction”

Such a great post, Juniper (wish I had an appropriate, non-ironic, hand-on-heart gif or something). Because of course it’s so fantastic that Mr. has a treatment that is working well, but also of course it sucks hugely that your (plural) sex life has taken such a hit as a result. Because sex is important. Both things can be true at the same time.

I hope you’re still able to get some physical (naked) time even if there’s no sex involved – at least for me there’s an awful lot of intimacy in that too without any orgasms needing to be involved.

That sounds like a lovely gif :) It feels very much like a balancing act, I think. Balancing the gratitude of treatment that works, with the effect it’s had on us, too.

There is, I’ll admit, less naked time given the temperatures but we do make sure to have physical time together and, I have to say, it’s been lovely to … rediscover/become more aware of intimacy in a non-sexual way.

My husband and I have had to deal with this a couple of times because of my illness or medication. Sex was always our main form of intimacy, and when it stopped we struggled to find our equilibrium as a couple.

If I’ve not said it before (or even if I have, it bears repeating), big thanks to you and the Mister for sharing yourselves and the struggles. It means a lot to hear similar stories.

Leave a Reply