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  • Author : suzanne
  • support : 10
  • Topic : Special Events
Senior Contributor

There were so many individual variations on the mental illness(es) played out but there were also some common themes:


  • Lacking confidence: people talked about not feeling worthy of a relationship or love within their relationship.  They felt insecure about their bodies and sexual appeal.  They doubted that their partners (or potential partners) could really fancy them.


  • The impact of the illness:  whether it was anxiety causing over-thinking or the inability to relax, or depression leading to exhaustion or anger, trauma creating flashbacks, OCD triggering fears, paranoia affecting trust….there were so many possible impacts from the conditions that people were living with that affected their desire or capacity to act on that desire.


  • Physical or emotional isolation: People talked a lot about needing space as a result of their illness.  Some described a cycle of become more unwell, which created a sense of emotional isolation, which then turned into a need for physical isolation.  Sometimes it could be a literal retreat or it could they could be physically present but disconnected. 


Based on their experiences people also talked about not wanting to be touched either at all or when they are unwell.  And about the need to build walls to keep them safe and limit the demands on them.  Of course this disconnection from their loved ones, or from people generally, impacted on sex and intimacy. 


Many had chosen to stay single as a result of their illness.  At the end of the conference presentation someone stood up to share that she felt that she had to choose between staying well and a relationship.  Relationships were too de-stabilising and challenging and it was enough for her to manage the illness without the complication of a relationship. But she was understandably sad that she felt she had to make this choice.   


Someone else summed up her experiences in one line:  I’m too busy having a relationship with my OCD! 


  • The impact of medication was also a big theme. It can reduce desire and the ability to orgasm.  It can cause weight gain that has a flow on effect on self-worth.  It can also contribute to general sense of disconnection and a lack of feeling.


That quite a list of barriers isn’t it?  And it’s certainly not the full list.


Does any of this sound or feel familiar?


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