Body Lego is what porn looks like to me, albeit less angular.
Discovering I have the same reaction to it as I do to any blank wall isn’t exactly a cause for celebration because it confirms what I already know.
Libido has eloped with lust, new development that isn’t much of a surprise. A parasite by the name of major depressive disorder has been living in my head for quite some time before this infelicitous epiphany slaps me in the face.
My marriage is already a dead bedroom, too, a term I’ve never heard until I turn to the internet for clues about what’s happening to me. All my attempts to broach the topic go nowhere so I eventually stop trying.
A dead bedroom is a sexless relationship and how I’ve lived since 2013 without knowing exactly why.
Then again, my illness is so incapacitating I can’t work so it turns into a source of resentment in my household and I begin to dematerialize.
Depression disappears me.
For five years, I stop being a woman, much less a human or even a wife.
Instead, I’m just another bill, another burden, another questionable choice you put up with out of duty even though you would prefer not to. If the assumption at the time is that divorce might accelerate my mental decline, I can’t help but wonder now whether it might have saved me instead.
I become totally dependent and housebound; marriage feels like a life sentence I fear I won’t survive.
Under those conditions, sex is the last thing on my mind, which is why I don’t notice right away that it has gone missing.
And when I do, it hurts then I shrug, resigned.
I reason my sex life is one more thing depression has destroyed, which can never be the full story as there’s always more than one person in a relationship.
I may never know what the full story is. All I know is that I question my humanity and womanhood during the years I’m left to hold my own hand as I try and figure out the best way to die.
Not because I’m not getting any or my husband no longer fancies me but because the pain of living has become unbearable.
When you’ve always enjoyed sexual intimacy, the loss of lust and libido feels like a bad omen.
As my depression is chronic, I fear I’ll never again experience the life-affirming release of orgasm, self-inflicted or otherwise.
Could it be that heterosexuality and I are breaking up?
Is my body as broken as my mind?
I ask myself many questions, some sensible, some less so.
Or perhaps I’ve grown physically repulsive. But if that’s the case, how can my husband even know as he doesn’t look at me and hasn’t seen me naked in years?
Because ours isn’t just a dead bedroom but two; we do not share sleeping quarters.
Back when we used to, his extreme snoring precluded sleep and I spend over a year, perhaps two in a state of raging insomnia and constant jet lag. Combine this with depression and it feels like I’m being flayed alive, day and night, without respite. Much as you love them, you cannot fancy someone who puts you through this kind of physical and mental torture. And you cannot fancy someone who won’t do anything to remedy the issue until you break down.
And break down I do as something within me comes loose and gets lost forever. We rearrange our home so I can have some undisrupted rest for the first time since I moved to the US in 2013. By then, depression is so fierce even sleep fails to trigger any kind of improvement.
I look less dead and that’s about it; neither my thinking abilities nor my writing voice will return until summer 2018.
As for libido, mine has rarely if ever been aimless. While there are times when I get frisky on my yoga mat and long for sexual intimacy, it is just a tingle in the nether regions.
And it stops the minute I realize there is no one in my life to apply it to.
Back when I’m still trying to unravel the mystery of my sexless marriage, I turn to porn.
I’ve always viewed porn as a healthy and fun add-on that can inspire both consenting partners to explore each others’ bodies and embrace a more varied sex life.
I’m curious to a fault and believe that porn provides an essential service to humanity. Although not everyone has the privilege of a dedicated partner or indeed any partner, sex is a physical need common to all humans.
There’s nothing shameful about turning to porn and self-relief to satisfy urges that would otherwise go unaddressed. In the same vein, prostitutes are people I have the greatest respect for as they provide human warmth and sexual connection to those who aren’t getting their needs met.
But porn fails to stimulate me: I am numb and feel nothing but incomprehension and sadness, both of which reinforce the impression that I am dying slowly.
I won’t become aware of this until a friend points out the obvious and I find myself agreeing with them.
More than bedroom gymnastics, I miss physical closeness to another person.
The holy grail of human interactions becomes a simple hug.
I yearn for a benevolent fellow human to take me in their arms and hold me tight for as long as they can manage. Back then, I’m so disconnected from life and all the people in it that loneliness is killing me.
For the longest time, depression renders me unrecognizable to all, including to myself when I look in the mirror and see a stranger staring back at me.
If my illness crushes and dehumanizes me, my personal circumstances contribute to the rapid erosion of the self until I have no idea how to be a human in the world anymore.
In the summer of 2018, I start coming back to life. At the time of writing, the process is still ongoing and it continues to call for immense patience and self-forgiveness.
Against all odds, I still wholeheartedly believe we humans need one another to thrive, regardless of how self-sufficient we often pretend to be.
If some people can take away your humanity, others can also give it back to you if you let them.
And to my broken brain, there’s no sexier thought.
I’m a French-American writer and journalist living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.