Sickness and Sex

Sex positivity is a learned behavior in our sex negative culture. Letting people other than men learn to own their bodies and seek pleasure is a radical attitude that deserves to permeate our culture. Decoupling pleasure from the taboo and from the ‘dirty’/’clean’ dynamic is…frankly a struggle. And it’s something that I’ve come up against recently.

Two weeks ago, I went in to see my GYN for some routine testing and to talk about my menstrual depression. I was seen and heard by this woman who valued my concerns, who thoughtfully made some suggestions about coping with my anhedonia. When I left, I had a bandaid on my arm and a prescription in my hand that I cautiously hoped would ease me back into being the vibrant human being that I am. I was ready to contribute to the posts advocating getting tested and voice my support for tearing down the idea that STIs made everyone dirty.

Of course, until my syphilis test came back with an abnormality. According to the doctor,  my test had come back with something amiss and I would need secondary results. I felt like I’d run into a brick wall. I felt…blind sided and sideswiped and…I loathed myself. I felt dirty and disgusting. A chill of fear that twisted my guts as I told my partner that he might need to go in for treatment. I stumbled over my words as I told him that I couldn’t explain how it could possibly have happened and that it must’ve been a false positive. He held me and told me that even if I were positive that this was an easy fix. I shuddered in his arms as he reassured me that he didn’t think I was dirty or nasty and that he still loved me. For the next two weeks, he would repeat over and over again that he still loved me and he wanted to be with me even if he did have to get a shot. The support from him was vital, and it made the days easier knowing he was on my side.

Those two weeks I was in a deep funk. I was adjusting to new medication which messed with my libido in addition to battling my own internalized shame. I didn’t masturbate or have an orgasm for two weeks. I didn’t touch my toys for fear of getting them ‘dirty’. I felt ashamed to take food from the delivery person, wondering whether or not I was able to spread it to other people from just casual contact. The intellectual side of me knew that I wasn’t ‘contagious’ and that a simple shot was all that would be required if I were positive…but my emotional side said ‘he’s gonna leave you, you crazy dirty bitch’.

Just this Friday, the 22nd of February I received notice that my result was a false positive. Relief flooded through me as I showed my partner the results. If I’d slipped the hangman’s noose I don’t think I could’ve been more giddy. But even as I celebrated, something tickled my mind. Understanding. Having a sex positive attitude is work. These are ingrained attitudes in us and it takes time to unlearn the toxic crap our culture inundates us with. And it takes effort to confront how these attitudes manifest in your own mind. I came up against my own attitudes in these two weeks and learned how fucking valuable it is that there are bloggers and sexuality educators fighting the stigma and trying advocate for sexual health. To anyone fighting the good fight and to make sex healthier and more normalized, I see you. When I was angsting out of my fucking mind, I looked frantically for resources and I fucking found them thanks to y’all. Scarleteen, Planned Parenthood and many more provide resources and sex education. But more than that, the blog squad is there, with people like Kelvin Sparks and Suz Ellis providing information and positivity with regards to sexual health.

If you’re struggling with depression and sexual health, there’s people who understand. I’ve learned that I deserve love no matter my diagnosis. And you do too.

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