The Beauties of Sertraline
The SSRI Has a Reputation for Stifling Testosterone Production, Thus Making Life Infinitely Easier
The two greatest benefits of aging, so far as I can gather, are that the mundane becomes richer and more savory, and my sex drive has dropped significantly.
More, it’s almost disappeared entirely due to an SSRI I’m taking called Sertraline (Brand name “Zoloft”).
When I first started taking this pill almost two years ago, I was frustrated by the fact that I could not bring sexual activity to its blissful conclusion. This was certainly frustrating (particularly when I was rolling solo), but it was especially troubling when I had one or two partners in the room who wanted me to share in the fun. Worse than this, sometimes I couldn’t even party at all, and while I love offering manual and oral delights, at a certain point the endeavor started to seem one-ended.
Beyond the vicissitudes of peaks and crashes, however, there is a deeper personal struggle buried within my recovery narrative that is at least as problematic as the alcohol abuse itself.
After six or ten months of this, I stopped taking it and relapsed on alcohol. “Good riddance!” I thought. “I may not be healthy but at least I’ll have fun!” And what little fun I could have during that dry period of my life. It seemed there was work, getting ready for work and, sometimes, sex. With that kind of banality it’s no surprise I was miserable.
But now I’m not miserable. I’ve done an entire year of deep-tissue psychotherapy which has allowed me to become more in touch with my subtler emotions which were often veiled through the opacity of my subconscious. And I’ve taken a more lighthearted approach to my prayer, meditation, and spiritual life. These practices are no longer duties but have instead become healthy upkeep like brushing my teeth — ostensibly mundane but pleasantly refreshing.
From this vantage, I’m enjoying the balance. And with the addition of Naltrexone, my desire to drink has faded into pattern behavior which can be altered with a few subtle tweaks. I still fuck up. I trip and make mistakes — sometimes painful ones. But on the whole, this shift has affected me such that I am no longer as attracted to painful highs and lows, and the allure of boredom gains a luster as it promises the opportunity to enjoy intellectual endeavors (something my soul and spirit have been lustily thirsting for, and which I have misdirected toward romantic relationships in the past, forgetting that I can get a lot of that juice while enjoying solitude and platonic friendships).
So Sertraline has helped this whole thing even more. Not only am I not likely to be physically able to have sex, but I also have less desire to have it in the first place. This works for me, at least for now. To want what I can’t have is torturous. To not want it in the first place is a glimpse into Nirvana.
Beyond the vicissitudes of peaks and crashes, however, there is a deeper personal struggle buried within my recovery narrative that is at least as problematic as the alcohol abuse itself. That is, of course, co-dependency—the unfortunate tendency I have to become instantaneously attached in an emotionally dependent way very quickly. Unlike some people who are able to more or less have casual sex without attachment, even sans Sertraline I’m unable to cavort without some element of trust and affection. (This can come instantaneously if my chemistry just happens to gel with another’s, or it can take time for them to earn the trust.)
Either way, once I’m able to open enough for blood and oxygen to flow to the necessary anatomy, I’m incredibly vulnerable to emotional attachment. While some of this may be natural and common, as a participant who has endured early childhood violence and maternal attachment issues, I need to be vigilant about setting boundaries and practicing delayed gratification as I force myself to interpret the situation rigorously, asking lots of clarifying questions. (Incidentally, I need to do all of this while sober if for no other reason than I need to remember the answers.)
Because of all of this, a decrease in libido is a blessed thing. I consider it a privilege to have my desires tempered, and my intellect enhanced. While the Naltrexone does make me a bit slow-witted and dopey at times, it’s not for lack of awareness. Consider it chemically-induced humility. “That’s something my body needs, anyway.”
As my therapist has assisted me in recognizing when my sex drive and unconscious push on the accelerator and brake at the same time, slowing down the velocity and speed of the machine gives me a chance to spend a little more time with my feet on the ground. If you want to learn how to drive, a good place to start is a parking lot. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my pedestrian lifestyle.